Bain Luxury Goods Worldwide Study: Spring 2013 update

Consulting firm Bain issued the latest in its series of important studies on the global luxury goods industry last month.  Thanks to Bain, I’ve just received a press copy of the study itself.

I’m going to write about it in two posts.  Today I’ll cover Bain’s view of industry prospects for 2013.  Tomorrow, I’ll write about longer-term structural changes underway for luxury goods.

2012 results

(It’s important to note that the study, conducted by well-known Bain analyst Claudia D’Arpizio, is done in cooperation with the Italian luxury goods trade association, Altagamma.  This means the sales figures are presented in €.  Also, the concept of luxury goods used has a strong traditional European emphasis.)

in € terms

In € terms 2012 was an above-trend sales year, one very close to being on par with 2011.  In both period luxury goods revenues grew by just over 10%, in an industry whose long-term growth rate is closer to +5%-6%.

in constant currency

In constant currency terms, however, 2011 was a +13% year (meaning strength in the € understated how strong the worldwide luxury good business was).  In contrast, 2012 was a +5% year in constant currency (meaning half the revenue rise came from € weakness).

the holiday season

Four factors characterized the key yearend holiday sales season in 2012:

–weaker than expected traffic in the US and Europe

–purchases tended to be for the buyer’s own use, rather than as gifts for others

–online sales, especially mobile, were very strong

–online sales were increasingly driven by special offers and by discounted shipping

2013 prospects…

1Q13 appears to have been a low point.  Sales were up a mere 3% year-on-year in constant currency.  € strength cut that in half in current currency terms.

Bain forecasts a 4%-5% full-year rise in €-denominated sales.

…by region

Japan:  Sharp devaluation of the ¥ has had a strong negative effect on Japanese luxury goods consumption–driven by the resulting loss in wealth and purchasing power of Japanese citizens.

Bain expects luxury purchases by Japanese abroad–notably Hawaii and the EU–to be down by 40% yoy as foreign travel declines and because $- or €-denominated goods have become less affordable.

Bain estimates that an estimated 10% increase in domestic luxury goods purchases will offset some of the shortfall.  But the overall effect will be about a 20% yoy contraction in luxury goods consumption by Japanese this year, a figure more or less in line with the fall in the Japanese currency.

In  Bain’s view, continuing ¥ weakness will limit the luxury goods industry in Japan to +4%-6% growth in € terms in 2013.

China

Chinese spending on luxury goods grew by 20% in constant currency last year, and by 30% the year before.  Bain is forecasting a relatively modest increase of +7% for 2013, however.

The main reason is change in policy by the newly installed central government.  The new leadership in Beijing is discouraging conspicuous consumption by the ultra-wealthy, particularly those with family connections to high-level present or former Party officials (although Macau gambling doesn’t appear to be suffering).  Perhaps more important, the administration has launched an anti-corruption campaign aimed at the widespread soliciting of “gifts” by officials from those seeking, say, business or construction permits.  Some estimates I’ve heard are that such gifting has made up as much as 25% of the sales of certain luxury brands.  Bain only mentions that sales of watches have been especially hurt.

No mention of a shift away from European to domestic Chinese luxury brands, but I think this is also part of the story.

Europe

Although it seems to me that Europe has passed its cyclical low point, and will gradually improve through 2013, the region will scarcely grow at all this year.  As a result of continuing economic weakness, aspirational buyers of luxury goods continue to trade down.  Japanese tourism has slowed dramatically.  And Chinese visitors are purchasing less on their European trips, as renminbi weakness makes €-denominated goods look more expensive.

Bain pegs European luxury goods sales in 2013 at 0%-2% growth.

US

Bain has little to say–good or bad–about US luxury goods buying.  It has penciled in growth of +5%-7% for this year.

the world

Asia ex China’s the best, at +7%-9% growth.  China’s a close second.  Europe’s the worst.  Overall, Bain thinks worldwide luxury goods sales will advance by +4%-5% in 2013.

More tomorrow.

11th Annual Bain Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study, October 2012 (iii): market structure

Yesterday I wrote about long-term trends in the personal luxury goods industry, as seen by the Bain Luxury Goods study.  The prior day, Monday, the topic was short-term revenue growth prospects.

Today’s post will deal with the responses by luxury goods firms to the development of the global market for their products.  I’ll close with Bain’s estimates of the size of the personal luxury goods market in the context of the market for all luxury goods.

continuing slow vertical integration

The traditional model for luxury goods companies has been to design and manufacture their products and sell them at wholesale to third-party retailers, like department stores or multi-brand specialty retailers (think, e.g.: jewelry stores).

The virtues of this way of doing business are:

–it’s simple and

–the time that company cash is tied up in inventory is, under most circumstances, the shortest.  So its financing needs are the least.

Over the past decade or so, however, luxury goods firms have been entering retail themselves by opening free-standing stores of their own or company-owned boutiques in department stores.  Where necessary to do so, they’ve also been buying back territorial distribution rights they had previously granted to third parties.

The rate of change toward vertical integration is slow, but steady, at the rate of about a 1% increase in market share per year.  Currently, luxury goods’ distribution is still predominantly wholesale, with 30% through company-owned retail channels.

Why the shift?

After all, going all the way to the retail customer requires a much more complex company organization and a lot more capital to meet the heavy extra expense of building and keeping up a store network.  At the same time, a firm’s existing wholesale customers can scarcely be thrilled to see the luxury goods company entering into direct competition with them.

Several reasons:

–the price markup from wholesale to retail for luxury goods is immense

–the company has much better, and more current, information about customers, sales trends and inventories if it has a retail operation

–it has much better control over the brand message and the customer experience

–the company has the opportunity to make the customer its client, rather than the department store’s, thereby increasing the size and frequency of purchases.

single brand vs. conglomerate, private vs. public ownership

the rise of luxury conglomerates

In 1995, according to Bain, a majority (55%) of personal luxury goods sales were of products made by a single-brand company.  The rest came from multi-brand groups.

Today, in contrast, sales by multi-brand groups are double the size of those of their single-brand counterparts, which account for only a bit more than a third of industry revenues.

…and publicly owned firms

In 1995 companies that had raised expansion capital in the stock market represented only 30% of luxury goods revenues.  The vast majority of sales were by privately held firms, mostly family owned.

Today, those proportions are reversed.  Only 30% of industry sales come from traditional privately held companies.  Firms representing 65% of total revenues are publicly traded.  Private equity and sovereign wealth funds hold the other 5%.

The reasons behind this transformation are a bit more complex.  They include:

–the massive rise in world GDP over the past few decades that has made the luxury goods market accessible to many more consumers.  According to Bain, the personal luxury goods market has almost tripled in size since 1995

–the development of supply chain software, which makes the management control task more manageable

–revival of once moribund businesses through modern management techniques–Gucci, Tiffany, Coach are names that immediately come to mind, which has attracted capital to the industry

–often a diffuse group of second- and third-generation owners of a private firm would prefer to cash out rather than remain involved in the family business.

where the personal luxury goods industry stands in overall luxury spending

According to Bain, global luxury spending breaks out as follows:

luxury cars    €290 billion, up 4% from 2011

personal luxury goods     €212 billion, up 10%

luxury hospitality     €127 billion, up 18%

luxury wines/spirits     €52 billion, up 12%    (no beer?)

luxury food     €38 billion, up 8%

design furniture     €18 billion, up 3%

luxury yachts     €7 billion, up 2%

Total     ~ €750 billion

Note:  in the food and beverage category, Bain detects a trend toward in-home consumption rather than in restaurants.  Apparently even the wealthy need to economize somewhere.

11th Annual Bain Luxury Goods Worldwide Study, October 2012 (ii): long-term trends

post # 2

This is Day two (of three) blogging about the 2012 Bain global study of personal luxury goods.  Yesterday I wrote about Bain’s analysis of the industry’s growth prospects.  The consulting company’s general picture seems to be that after a post-Great Recession surge in luxury goods spending the industry is settling back toward trend growth.

In the Worldwide Study, Bain has pencilled in 4% – 6% annual revenue expansion as being “trend.”.  My sense, however, is these numbers are there more as prudent (read: low-ball) placeholders than the product of hard core analysis.

Trends

That was yesterday.  Today I’m going to write about the major trends Bain sees in the luxury goods market.  They are:

–tourism  

According to Bain, 40% of the total money spent by buyers outside their home country!  I knew that this phenomenon was big, but I didn’t realize it was so large.

Why not spend at home?

price   Prices are cheaper in the EU than anyplace else.  This is partly because luxury goods makers set prices higher in Asia and partly because of government duties imposed on foreign luxury goods imports.   Outlet shopping may also not be available in the home country (more below).

selection  Two-thirds of worldwide luxury goods distribution is through third parties like department stores, which may focus on only a small number of items.  In some cases (think: China) there may not be stores nearby

anonymity  Buyers may prefer to make purchases that don’t advertise their affluence to their friends and neighbors

–authenticity  Buying from a luxury firm’s retail store gives greater assurance that the merchandise isn’t counterfeit

vacation atmosphere  buyers may be less careful about spending when abroad.

How does Bain know this?  Traditionally, the information comes from credit cards, although in today’s world more progressive companies will be using “big data.”  If so, they’re probably not telling anyone, though.

the geographical spending mismatch

Chinese citizens do 25% of global luxury goods spending; China accounts for 7% of worldwide sales

Europeans do 24% of global spending; Europe accounts for 35% of worldwide sales

Americans do 20% of global spending; the US accounts for 31% of worldwide sales

Japanese do 14% of global spending; Japan accounts for 9% of worldwide sales

Everyone else does 17% of global spending, everywhere else accounts for 18% of worldwide sales.

In the aggregate this is an East/West phenomenon.  Yes, Americans do a little bit of luxury shopping in Europe and Europeans in the US.  But Japanese and Chinese citizens do the majority of their personal luxury goods buying abroad.

–China accounts for 25% of the global luxury goods market.  That’s more than any other country.  And it’s up from basically nothing 12 years ago.

–accessories, not apparel   Accessories, typified by leather goods and shoes, are now the largest segment of the luxury goods market, comprising 27% of total sales vs. 26% for the #2 category, apparel.  They’re also growing faster than apparel.  Reasons:  lower prices, greater recognizability, faster innovation

–men, not women…  Fifteen years ago, men made up a third of the luxury goods market.  Today, that’s up to 41%.  The impetus for this change is the emergence of younger male consumers in China.  Now luxury brands are beginning to cultivate males in the US and Europe as well, where men hav e traditionally been second-class citizen, on the view that men “normally” buy less than women–and are much more highly business cycle sensitive customers.

–…except maybe for China, where Bain notes, for the first time I’m aware, that women business owners, “power women,” are becoming a significant force in luxury goods consumption

–off-price  Outlet shopping, long a staple in the US (59% of global off-price sales this year) , has arrived in Europe–and is being rapidly developed from a very low base in Asia.  Bain reports growth in luxury outlet sales from Chinese customers in Europe of up to 100%+.

The category as a whole will likely grow at a 30% clip in 2012, although it will only account for about €13 billion in total sales.

–online  This market, which is still tiny at an estimated €7 billion in sales this year, is growing at about a 25% annual rate.  It’s 2/3 full price, 1/3 off-price, with off-price growing faster.  Private sales, flash sales and sites for men are the hottest sub-categories.

That’s it for today.  Tomorrow, structural features of the personal luxury goods market.

11th Annual Bain Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study, October 2012 (i): short-term performance

the study

Bain and Company published its 11th annual study of the global luxury goods industry in Milan last month.  The study is authored, as usual, by Claudia D’Arpizio, the head of Bain’s luxury goods practice.  It’s developed in cooperation with Altagamma, the Italian luxury goods trade association.  (Thanks to Bain for giving me access to the study, a summary of which can be found on the Bain website.)

three posts

I’m going to write about this year’s study in three posts.

Today I’ll cover Bain’s assessment of the personal luxury goods industry’s prospects for the upcoming holiday season and for full-year 2012, as well as what’s likely to be in store for 2013 and beyond.

Tomorrow I’ll write about the longer-term trends developing in the luxury goods market.

On Wednesday, I’ll add Bain’s view of the geographical structure of the luxury goods market, in addition to–something new this year–the consultant’s sense of where the €212 billion in annual sales of luxury goods stands in the context of the overall €750 billion “market of markets” of all worldwide luxury expenditure.

€ vs. constant currency

The Bain study is framed in euros.  This makes sense, since a majority of the important luxury brands are European and the largest single bloc of affluent customers still remains the EU.  Also, historically the € has been relatively stable.  However, the currency has been uncharacteristically volatile over the past several years, as the Great Recession has brought long-simmering economic, political and demographic issues in the EU to a head.

From an equity investment point of view, it’s no bad thing in an area under economic strain to hold stock in companies with strong global brand names and lots of overseas sales.  So luxury goods firms will find support from local investors.

We’re not all €-based buyers, however.   Also, almost 2/3 of luxury goods sales, and the lion’s share of the growth, lie outside the EU.  For both these reasons, it’s important to separate underlying expansion in demand from fluctuations in currency.

2012

the recent past

The personal luxury goods market hit what was then an all-time peak of €170 billion in 2007.  The market fell by 10% over the following two years to €153 billion in 2009, before rebounding to hit new highs of €173 billion (+13%) in 2010 and €192 billion (+11%) in 2011.

Bain predicts another new record of €212 billion in personal luxury goods sales (+10%) for 2012.

2012 to date

The first two quarters of 2012 are already in the books, showing +14% growth.

Although publicly traded companies have by and large not yet reported 3Q12 earnings (many have fiscal periods ending in October), monthly sales announcements, industry data and anecdotal evidence give us a good sense of how the quarter will play out.  Year on year deceleration is the operative word.  Bain has pencilled in a 7% yoy revenue advance.

two forecasts for the holidays

For the upcoming holiday season, Bain has two forecasts.  Its base case is that 4Q12 will show the same yoy gain as 3Q12, up 7%.  It’s optimistic case is that the holidays will show the same yoy growth they did in 2011, +12%-+13%.  (For what it’s worth–personally, I’m not familiar enough with Ms. Arpizio’s work to have an opinion–both Bain’s base case for 4Q11 (+8%) and is optimistic case (+10%) were conservative.)

Bain continues to project annual +4% to +6% growth in personal luxury goods growth in constant currency over the next several years.  This will be driven by Asian consumers, tourism, deeper penetration of emerging markets and of second-tier cities in developed markets, and rapidly expanding online and outlet channels.  I think this figure may prove to be too low.

Accessories–leather goods and shoes–will likely be the best categories.

weaker than it looks in 2012

2010 industry growth of +13% breaks out into +8% in constant currency and +5% from € weakness

2011 growth of +11% breaks out into +13% in constant currency and -2% from € strength

2012 growth of 10% breaks out into +5% in constant currency and +5% from € weakness.

The Bain study, then, is projecting a continuation of the current environment of slower growth through 2015.

my take

There’s an increasingly large separation between the nationality of the buyers of luxury goods and the places where the purchasing takes place (more about this tomorrow).  If we look at the economies where the large groups of buyers reside,

–China (25% of the market) is, I think, at a cyclical low point from which growth will accelerate next year.  Luxury purchases should be a high-beta function of this rebound.  +20% in 2013?

–Europe (24%) is a continuing mess, from which I’m expecting no better than flat

–the US (20%) is an enigma.  Layoffs of high paid bankers will continue to dampen growth in luxury goods purchases.  But the current slowdown in luxury goods sales is more widespread.  Who knows why?  My guess is that this isn’t the affluent anticipating higher personal income taxes.  Rather it’s the worry, symbolized by the “fiscal cliff,” that gridlock in Washington will undermine economic growth.  Legislators on both sides of the aisle appear refreshingly open to compromise in their post-election statements.  The administration doesn’t sound so willing.  Negotiating stance?…tin ear?  We’ll know more in the coming few weeks.

If I’m correct about Chinese growth in 2013, that country alone will provide Bain’s 5% constant currency growth.  The big imponderable for me is how much the US will add to that number.

At this point, therefore, to me the safest bet–maybe the only safe one–seems to be on accessories sold to Chinese luxury consumers.

the 10th Bain luxury goods study, October 2011(II): trends

Yesterday, I wrote about prospects for the luxury goods industry this year.  Today’s post is about trends in the business.

areas of current strength

Bain’s estimates current growth prospects by category as follows:

hard luxury (jewelry, watches)     +18%

accessories          +13%

luxury goods in general     +10%

apparel          +8%

perfume/cosmetics          +3%

art de la table          +3%

cyclical forces…

As you’d expect, more expensive items, those sold through wholesalers (who stop buying, period, in recession and turn all their efforts into converting their existing inventory into cash) and those with a large percentage of aspirational buyers all fare the worst in an economic downturn.  Luxury watches are the prime example.  Anything sold through department stores might also qualify.

Men’s apparel is also highly cyclical.  For whatever reason, women continue to buy luxury goods during a downturn.  True, they may trade down a bit and space their purchase farther apart.  But men tend to stop dead in their tracks.  One reason is that big traditional men’s categories like business suits and formal wear are expensive and easily postponable purchases.  Another is that women control the purse strings in most households around the world.

So it’s no surprise that this year watches, expensive jewelry and men’s apparel are all doing extremely well.

Maybe the unusual strength of luxury goods indicates there’s some pent-up demand being met.  In any event, luxury buyers are clearly signalling with their wallets that, for them,  the economic downturn is a thing of the past.

…and secular

who

The traditional picture of a luxury goods buyer is: female, older, from either Europe or Japan.

That’s changing.  Increasingly, customers are younger, more casual,  and male.  These may be trends in many geographies.  However, the main reason theses attributes are appearing on the radar screen is that they describe the Chinese luxury goods consumer.  At 20% of the market, Chinese buying is already very big, and it’s growing very quickly as well.

where

For at least the past decade, makers of luxury goods have been upping their own retail presence.  They are doing this so they can capture the wholesale-to-retail markup.  It also gives them greater control over their brand image and their inventories.

Nevertheless, the luxury goods industry is still predominantly wholesale.  But Bain thinks that the percentage of industry sales through wholesale channels will have shrunk in 2011 to 72% of the total from 75% just two years ago.  This comes despite the business cycle strength of department stores.

online

Internet sales comprise only 3% of total luxury sales at present.  But the category is expanding very rapidly.  Bain thinks online sales will be up by 25% this year, to €5.6 billion.

Online has two segments:  full price and off-price.

Full price is is growing faster than overall luxury sales and comprises about two-thirds of all internet business.  But it’s being left in the dust by off-price, which is one-third today but which amounted to only 20% of online sales four years ago.  Private “flash” sales are the fastest growing part of off-price.

outlets

Off-price non-internet sales amount to about €10 billion, or 5% of the overall luxury market.

Outlet sales grew by 22% last year.  Bain projects them to expand by another 13% in 2011.  That’s faster than the overall luxury goods market, despite the return to health of the full-price market and the consequently smaller amount of unsold merchandise sloshing around in the system.  (Although Bain doesn’t talk about it, part of the answer to this apparent contradiction is that luxury goods companies also produce low-end “outlet only” merchandise.)

This isn’t news.  Outlets are a long-standing, mature channel in the US and Europe.

What is noteworthy is the rapid growth–around a +30% clip–that’s just starting in off-price sales in Asia and Latin America.

brand proliferation, company consolidation

Over the past ten years, the market share of the top five luxury brands has shrunk from 26% of the market to 21%.  In contrast, the share of the top five luxury goods companies has risen from 30% to 35%.

To me, this means market power is shifting from the owners of iconic individual brands to companies that are sophisticated enough provide a common platform–supply chain, support for in-house retail, dealing with consumer preferences in many different geographies–on which a group of disparate brands can operate in an increasingly complex global environment.

More and more, these technology and management factors will be the keys to success.  This also implies that these factors will increasingly be the selling points used to convince acquisition targets to join a luxury conglomerate.  The recent sale of Bulgari to LVMH is a case in point.

Bain Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study: Spring 2011 update

Note:  you can also get my analysis of the October 2011 Bain Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study.

Last week Bain released an update of its annual Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study, created by the head of its luxury goods practice, Claudia D’Arpizio (thanks to Bain for providing me with a copy of the presentation materials).

While the buying habits of the affluent may have some interest in themselves, studies like Bain’s (which is the best I’ve seen) are particularly significant for investors. Publicly traded global luxury companies are an excellent way of participating in the superior growth of emerging countries without having to take the risk of owning consumer-oriented stocks in local markets.

The main conclusions from the April update:

1.  The 2010 holiday season was surprisingly strong.  To some extent, we already knew this from earnings reports, but–

–in addition to Greater China (the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan), the US was notably robust

–the high end did the best

–internet sales, although still small, are growing more quickly than the overall industry

–when the final reports are in (not for another month or two for some companies), 2010 will likely show global luxury sales surpassed the 2007 peak of €170 billion.

2.  2011 is following in the same vein. 

–retail continues to show double-digit same store sales growth, resulting both from higher traffic and from higher average purchase

–Chinese tourists are boosting business in Europe (over half of Chinese luxury spending is done abroad)

–wholesalers are restocking, after a couple of lean years.  Highly cyclical categories, like watches and menswear, are enjoying a rebound.  More stable areas, like leather goods and women’s shoes, are also showing strong growth.

3.  Greater China will pass Japan as the #2 luxury goods market this year, likely posting sales of €22 billion (up 25% year on year) vs. Japanese revenue of €17 billion or so (-5%).  The US will remain the #1 market at about €52 billion (+8%)–although, if we counted tourist purchases, China may already be #1.   According to Bain:

–the Chinese consumer is younger and more open to e-commerce than the typical Western luxury goods buyer

–the market is more skewed toward male consumers

–demand for luxury goods is spreading from the biggest cities on the east coast to second- and third-tier cities inland, following the development of the overall Chinese economy

–global luxury brands are increasingly shifting from distributing in China through wholesalers to opening company-owned stores there.  This move raises the capital intensity of their Chinese businesses.  But it also allows the firms to capture the lucrative wholesale to retail markup, as well as to better control their inventories and their brand message.  Perhaps most important, it signals the brands’ higher level of comfort in selling to consumers on the mainland.

4.  Japan will likely begin to recover from the March 11th earthquake in 3Q11.  Still, full-year luxury sales will probably fall by 5% from last year’s level.  Two Japanese luxury goods issues:

earthquake

–luxury goods stores were closed for ten days after the Fukushima earthquake/tsunamis on March 11th, due to lack of electric power.  Business was good after the stores reopened.  But (to me, anyway) it’s not clear how much, or for how long (six months?) luxury goods spending will be affected by feelings of jishiku –the idea that one should refrain from excessive consumption to show solidarity with those who suffered earthquake losses.

–business in Japan’s second city, Osaka, hasn’t been affected

secular

For many years, Japan was a premier market for Western luxury goods, driven by the strong preference of perhaps half the population (a much bigger proportion than elsewhere) for these products, and a willingness to pay much higher prices than prevailed in the rest of the world.   In my opinion, two developments of the late 1990s began to change this favorable picture:

–younger Japanese began shifting to local brands, partly as a rejection of their parents’ values, partly because Japanese brands were more affordable

–older Japanese began to retire (the working age population peaked in 1996).

I’m not quite sure why, but as Bain notes, these factors only impacted the Japanese luxury goods market in a significant way in 2007, when sales were flat, year on year.  In the two years since, revenues have dropped by about 15%.  Pre-earthquake, industry estimates for 2011 were for revenues to stabilize–but not increase.

Sales may get a temporary boost as Japanese GDP gains from spending to rebuild holes and factories destroyed by the earthquake/tsunamis, but my guess is that this is only a temporary reprieve.  Bain expects only 1%-2% annual growth in Japanese luxury goods purchases over the next several years from the depressed levels currently.

my thoughts

Ex Japan, the global luxury goods market looks to be in excellent health, driven by explosive growth in Asia ex Japan and expansion at a better-than-GDP rate in the US and EU.  Bain also highlights the increasing importance of developing markets like Brazil, Russia, India and the Middle East.  Today they amount to only about 7% of the world luxury goods market, but they are growing very quickly.  Companies able to manage their Japanese exposure effectively appear to me to be very well situated for superior growth.