This year more than any other year before, the online popularity of the best luxury brands in the world is a dependable predictor of future sales but also a lifesaver for many luxury brands. Even the most digitally averse brands are now embracing online channels to reach and engage with their affluent consumers.
It is the fourth consecutive year that Luxe Digital publishes a list of the top luxury brands online ordered by popularity. Our ranking has, over the years, become an important and reliable indicator of future performances for the world’s best luxury brands.
30%of global luxury sales will take place online by 2025.
Every luxury brand on our list is enjoying significant customer attention. They each drive substantial online conversations across social media channels and search. They are at the centre of what matters to modern affluent consumers and influencers.
The digital transformation of luxury is accelerating in 2021. Changes that were already underway are now at the forefront of every brand’s strategy: profound shifts in consumption and consumer preferences. Relevancy is the new legacy, as you’ll see in our luxury predictions for 2021.
Online luxury sales reached €49 billion at the end of 2020 (up from €33 billion in 2019) according to estimates by Bain & Company. More interestingly, the share of purchases made online for luxury goods nearly doubled to reach 23 percent of total sales in 2020 (up from 12 percent in 2019).
385Bglobal sales of personal luxury goods by 2025.
As a result, we’re now expecting nearly a third of global luxury sales to take place online by 2025. (5 percentage points higher than previous estimations.)
As luxury ecommerce sales grow and affluent consumers increasingly turn online to make purchase decisions, a luxury brand’s digital acumen is more critical than ever.
So if you’re wondering if and how the finest luxury brands in the world performed online, ponder no longer. We lift the lid on all the juicy data and details in our brand-new ranking of the best luxury brands online in 2021.
In this article, you will discover which luxury brands are the most talked about and sought-after online in 2021. We highlight particularly noteworthy digital initiatives and successful new product launches that help explain their current popularity online.
Spoiler: Several luxury brands had notable shifts in our 2021 annual ranking.
- The top 5 brands alone capture 57% of the affluent consumers’ attention and international search market share.
- 1 out of 4 brands is in the Hard Luxury segment.
- Saint Laurent, Fendi, and Lancôme did not crack the top 15 this year.
- Dolce Gabbana, Tom Ford, Estee Lauder, Moncler and Givenchy are notable runner-ups.
How do we estimate the online popularity of a luxury brand? We took into account a combination of brand value, search share of voice and social media conversations to create this list. You can read more details about our methodology and data sources at the end of this article.
For this ranking, we focus exclusively on brands in luxury fashion, beauty and “hard luxury” (jewellery and watches). We’re preparing a separate report for the best luxury car brands.
The top 15 most popular luxury brands online in 2021
In what might be of little surprise to many, Italian luxury fashion house Gucci maintains the top spot on the 2021 edition of our list of the most popular luxury brands online, well ahead of all its competitors and for four consecutive years. The popularity of the Kering-owned brand continues to decline in 2021, however — Online searches for Gucci dropped by 13% year over year.
This ‘Gucci fatigue’ became visible in the brand’s latest sales figures, with a 22.7% drop in revenue in 2020. Online sales however continued to enjoy fast-paced growth, up nearly 70%.
Nevertheless, Gucci remains one of the industry’s best in class digital performers, by leveraging digital storytelling, elevated ecommerce, and a constant drive to experiment and innovate online. From digital gifting with split payments to AR-powered try-on features on Snapchat and the Gucci App, the brand is constantly experimenting online.
Gucci also embraces genderless fashion and sustainable supply chain, two important values, especially for the coveted younger generations of luxury shoppers. For example, Gucci launched its first sustainable collection Off The Grid in mid-2020, and introduced eco-packaging.
The brand with the capital G’s also doubled down on the Chinese market by selling products on Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion, China’s largest ecommerce platform, to reach new digitally savvy affluent consumers.
Gucci also maintains a particularly strong presence in the coveted designer sneakers market. The Italian luxury label took a step further by selling the first pair of virtual luxury sneakers this year. The Gucci Virtual 25 digital-only sneakers launched in March 2021 are indeed only available through the brand’s Sneakers Garage, a digital experience on Gucci’s mobile app. People can “wear” the shoe virtually and take photos or videos to be shared online.
Social media mentions and actions for the brand across all digital platforms dwarfed most of the other luxury fashion brands worldwide. The brand records over 10 million engagement actions per month, on average. Only Dior and Louis Vuitton are doing better with 13.2 million and 11 million respectively.
Gucci is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. This milestone most likely won’t go unnoticed.
Brand country: Italy Founded in: 1921 Industry: Luxury fashion Product categories: ready-to-wear, shoes, handbags, accessories, jewellery & watches, beauty, home decor
Most popular Gucci items online
When searching for Gucci online, people most often looked for the following products:
- Gucci shoes
- Gucci bag
- Gucci belt
- Gucci t-shirt
Top Gucci items for women
Top Gucci items for men
Online interest for Gucci over time
Luxury French fashion house Chanel claims the second spot on our list of the most popular luxury brands online in 2021, mostly thanks to Louis Vuitton’s decline. The haute-couture house maintained indeed the same share of online search interest than last year at 11.55%.
One of the most recognised luxury brands in the world, Chanel continues to be an international byword for luxury.
Famously known for shying away from e-commerce for its fashion pieces, the historic French Maison shines on social media with profiles filled with exclusive and interactive content that cultivates continuing interest in the brand’s legacy.
Chanel saw its social media audience growth accelerating in 2021, with a total of 81.4 million followers across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Chanel is thus the luxury brand with the highest number of social media followers across all channels.
Beyond social media, Chanel continues to timidly experiment with digital adoption in 2021. The brand launched for the first time a digital-only presentation of its summer collection last year. Named ‘Balade en Méditerranée’ (A trip around the Mediterranean), the seven-minute video was released exclusively online after the offline show had to be cancelled.
Noteworthily, Chanel expanded online sales of its eyewear collections on chanel.com in the US and in Europe. In February 2021, Chanel launched a beauty app called Lipscanner powered by augmented reality and facial recognition, allowing customers to virtually try on the brand’s lipsticks.
Chanel remains a privately held company owned by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer, grandsons of Pierre Wertheimer, an early business partner of Coco Chanel. The product range includes clothes, fragrances, handbags and watches. The brand is most famous for its “little black dress”, the Chanel No. 5 perfume and the Chanel Suit.
Brand country: France Founded in: 1909 Industry: Luxury fashion Product categories: clothing, shoes, accessories, watches, fragrances, beauty
Most popular Chanel items online
When searching for Chanel online, people most often looked for the following products:
- Chanel bags
- Chanel perfume
- Chanel sandals
- Chanel sneakers
- Chanel earrings
Top Chanel items for women
Top Chanel items for men
Online interest for Chanel over time
Hermès is another private luxury house, a rare occurrence on our list of the top luxury brands in the world. Hermès enjoyed impressive growth in online popularity in 2021, gaining eight points to rank number three on our list.
Offline, Hermès pursues a strong China strategy and continues to enjoy the top desirability of its timeless classics across borders, such as the very sought-after Birkin bag which often generates long waiting lists. This could explain why the secondhand market for Hermès is booming on resale sites such as Fashionphile and The RealReal.
Hermès surprised the world last year with record sales of US $2.7 million on its reopening day at its flagship store in Guangzhou’s Taikoo Hui shopping centre.
The fashion house also increasingly focuses on the digital world. Hermès announced it would gradually expand its online offering, except for its most iconic products. Conceived and designed with an omnichannel approach, the “digital flagship” Hermès online store pairs content and commerce. The prestigious brand’s website is rich in editorial content and sells a variety of items. Hermès also launched online flagship stores in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Hermès has also scaled up its presence in China. In fact, Hermès quietly debuted on Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion, Alibaba Group’s B2C online marketplace in January 2021.
As of April 2021, Hermès sells a selected number of its latest timepieces on MR PORTER.
Brand country: France Founded in: 1837 Industry: Fashion Product categories: clothing, shoes, accessories, watches, fragrances, beauty
Most popular Hermès items online
When searching for Hermès online, people most often looked for the following products:
- Hermès bag
- Hermès Birkin bag
Online interest for Hermès over time
French luxury goods company Christian Dior, or just Dior for short, rose again in 2021, gaining one point on our ranking of the best luxury brands online. Dior takes the fourth place thanks to its online experiments, localisations for the Chinese market, exclusive collections, and premium beauty product line.
Dior continues to prove its dynamism as a top luxury brand online, experimenting with multiple digital strategies over the years. Dior was the first luxury brand to promote its luxury goods on WeChat Moments back in 2015. In June 2020, the French fashion powerhouse launched an official Tmall store for its skincare, cosmetics, and perfumes collections. Last year, Dior also became the first top-tier luxury brand to release a capsule collection available at their WeChat boutique and website exclusively for the Singles’ Day online shopping event.
For its international audience, Dior introduced several innovative services such as Dior Maison virtual boutique (replicating the experience of shopping in its Champs-Élysées boutique), an Instagram AR Virtual Makeup Filter, or a virtual sneaker try-on with Snapchat.
Dior’s much anticipated collaborations with streetwear legend Shawn Stüssy and Nike for the ‘Air Dior Capsule Collection’ also strengthen the French luxury brand’s desire among younger generations of affluent consumers.
Brand country: France Founded in: 1946 Industry: Fashion Product categories: clothing, shoes, accessories, watches, fragrances, beauty
Most popular Dior items online
When searching for Dior online, people most often looked for the following products:
- Dior shoes
- Dior bag
- Dior perfume
- Dior makeup
- Dior sneakers
Top Dior items for women
Top Dior items for men
Online interest for Dior over time
5. Louis Vuitton
Owned by the mega luxury conglomerate LVMH, French luxury house Louis Vuitton, or LV, is one of the major surprises of this year’s ranking of the most popular luxury brands online. Louis Vuitton lost three points in 2021, to end as number five on our list.
Louis Vuitton’s sales increased by 18% last year to be LVMH’s biggest revenue driver. The fashion house also tops Forbes’ most valuable luxury brands index with a brand value of $47.2 Billion.
An estimated 12 percent of sales were generated online in 2020 (up from 6 per cent in 2019).
Louis Vuitton continues to gain traction and build brand loyalty on China’s popular social platforms like WeChat, Weibo as well as emerging RED (Xiaohongshu, lit. ‘Little Red Book’). Louis Vuitton launched for example an exclusive pop-up store for Valentine’s Day via WeChat Mini Program, enabling associates to assist shoppers via live chat and doubling online sales for that day versus 2019.
The brand also often partners with Asian KOLs to grow its local influence.
As their Chief Digital Officer Ian Rogers stepped down, LVMH appointed a new “Chief Omnichannel Officer” role at the group level – a move that could signal a more seamless approach to future-proof their business and fully integrate online and offline activities.
Brand country: France Founded in: 1854 Industry: Fashion Product categories: clothing, shoes, accessories, watches, fragrances, beauty
Most popular Louis Vuitton items online
When searching for Louis Vuitton online, people most often looked for the following products:
- Louis Vuitton bags
- Louis Vuitton wallet
- Louis Vuitton shoes
- Louis Vuitton sneakers
- Louis Vuitton sunglasses
Top Louis Vuitton items for women
Top Louis Vuitton items for men
Online interest for Louis Vuitton over time
The ranking of Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Rolex dropped to sixth place on the list this year. Despite remaining steadfast in its commitment to brick-and-mortar retail, Rolex is the most sought-after luxury watch online. The world-renowned luxury watch company is also featured on Forbes top 100 most valuable brands in the world, taking spot 80 with an estimated brand value of $9.5 Billion.
As is the case every year, new watch models drive most of the online conversations around Rolex. The constantly increasing resale value of vintage Rolex watches is also fueling interest for the brand. Just take a look at our list of the top 15 most expensive Rolex to see the affluent consumer’s interest in rare pieces.
Rolex still doesn’t offer e-commerce options but the rising popularity of online luxury resale sites creates more opportunities for people to buy Rolex watches online.
With the Apple Watches outselling the entire Swiss watch industry in terms of watches sold last year, the industry is feeling the pressure, particularly for the entry-level brands. Thanks to its exceptional brand recognition, Rolex managed to gain market shares last year, generating $8.5 billion in retail sales and accounting for 25% of the industry sales. Time will tell if the brand’s prestige can sustain current sales levels as young affluent consumers represent a larger segment of the consumer market.
Brand country: Switzerland Founded in: 1905 Industry: Watch Product categories: watches
Most popular Rolex items online
When searching for Rolex online, people most often looked for the following products:
- Rolex Submariner
- Rolex DateJust
- Rolex Daytona
- Rolex Oyster Perpetual
- Rolex Explorer
Top Rolex watches for women
Top Rolex watches for men
Online interest for Rolex over time
Amidst the controversy and long running saga that surrounded the acquisition of Tiffany & Co. (Tiffany) by French luxury group LVMH, the American luxury jewellery brand gained two points on our list thanks to resilient consumer demand and renewed interest in hard luxury as safe investments.
Tiffany performs particularly well on social media, especially Instagram, where it is often quick to embrace new features to connect with young affluent customers. In December 2020, Tiffany also opened its very first official brand store on Kakao’s e-commerce platform.
As more affluent consumers seek to buy fine jewellery online, Tiffany promotes further traceability efforts and transparency— In 2020, Tiffany became the first global luxury jeweler to offer shoppers a completely transparent access to its stone’s “craftsmanship journey” (where the diamond was sorted, planned, cut, polished, graded and set). A great way to strengthen its appeal to younger generations of affluent consumers who value ethics and sustainability.
With its acquisition by LVMH completed in January 2021, we expect the luxury jewellery brand to continue to grow, particularly online, with fresh investments in the brand.
Brand country: United States Founded in: 1837 Industry: Jewellery Product categories: jewellery, watches, fragrances, and accessories
Most popular Tiffany items online
When searching for Tiffany online, people most often looked for the following products:
- Tiffany rings
- Tiffany necklace
- Tiffany bracelet
Online interest for Tiffany over time
Founded in 1913 by Mario Prada, Italian luxury fashion house Prada has grown into one of the most notable luxury brands in the industry.
Belonging to the Prada Group, Prada demonstrates remarkable international momentum by strengthening its relevance online and increasingly appealing to younger affluent consumers. The brand gains five points to end number eight on our list of the most popular luxury brands online in 2021.
Prada intensified its digital strategy – online sales tripled in 2020 versus 2019. Prada made the strategic decision to control all distribution channels to better protect its brand positioning. Prada revamped its prada.com website and expanded its e-commerce offering in new key markets (Brazil, Singapore and Korea).
The high-end brand also focuses on localisation and personalisation of content in Europe and China. Pop-up store experiments and new marketing formats such as the Prada Mode events to connect with local audiences in Paris and Shanghai help boost the brand’s online presence.
Prada is further strengthening its social media communication strategy in various geographies with the launch of Prada Possible Conversations, a series of digital talks on Instagram. Prada also inaugurated an open dialogue between the brand and its audiences following the successful debut of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons as co-creative directors for Spring/Summer 2021.
Brand country: Italy Founded in: 1913 Industry: Fashion Product categories: clothing, shoes, accessories, watches, fragrances, beauty
Most popular Prada items online
When searching for Prada online, people most often looked for the following products:
- Prada bag
- Prada sneakers
- Prada shoes
- Prada sunglasses
- Prada perfume
Online interest for Prada over time
Founded by Gianni Versace in 1978, flamboyant Italian luxury brand Versace makes its first appearance on our list this year to take the ninth position.
The brand is particularly apt at generating social media buzz online with one of the highest engagement rates in the industry. Its 34.5 million followers are indeed the most active on our list. Versace’s partnership with Jennifer Lopez to custom-design her dress for the Super Bowl half-time show last year gained instant recognition online. Supermodel and Instagram influencer Gigi Hadid also helped drive more conversations around the brand.
With Donatella Versace continuing to push the brand towards rich glamour and intricate baroque styles, we think 2021 will be another strong year for the Italian luxury designer as consumers seek release and entertainment.
An avatar version of Donatella Versace made an appearance at virtual festival Complexland in December 2020, where attendees could buy one of the only 100 pairs of Versace’s limited edition Trigreca sneakers.
Brand country: Italy Founded in: 1978 Industry: Fashion Product categories: clothing, shoes, accessories, watches, fragrances, beauty
Most popular Versace items online
When searching for Versace online, people most often looked for the following products:
- Versace perfume (Versace Dylan Blue fragrance, Versace Crystal)
- Versace bathrobe
- Versace shoes
- Versace sunglasses
- Versace jeans
Online interest for Versace over time
Armani, the privately-owned Italian luxury fashion house founded by Giorgio Armani in 1975, lost three points to rank number ten on our list of the best luxury brands online.
The brand focuses on three core audiences: high-end customers with Giorgio Armani, mid-range consumers with Emporio Armani and young fashionista with A|X Armani Exchange.
Armani partnered with online retailer Yoox Net-a-Porter (already managing armani.com) to implement an AI-backed omnichannel business model that will support more sustainability, transparency and circularity by enabling Armani customers to check product availability in inventory across its digital stores and physical boutiques, with full integration expected in 2022.
In March 2021, Giorgio Armani partnered with MR PORTER to launch an exclusive 23-piece capsule collection of modern tailoring inspired by the Italian luxury brand’s iconic styles and silhouettes from the 1980s and 1990s.
Brand country: Italy Founded in: 1975 Industry: Fashion Product categories: clothing, shoes, accessories, watches, fragrances, beauty
Most popular Armani items online
When searching for Armani online, people most often look for the following collections:
- Armani Exchange
- Giorgio Armani
- Emporio Armani
Online interest for Armani over time
Another newcomer to our list of the most popular luxury brands online in 2021 is Italian fashion brand Valentino. The brand gains five points to jump to number eleven on our ranking.
Valentino sees a 62 percent increase in online sales for 2020, representing 14% of the total retail business. The fashion brand also debuted innovative digital initiatives including #ChezMaisonValentino, a series of live musical performances starting with Alicia Keys on the brand’s official Instagram account, and a dreamy Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2020-21 streaming from Rome’s historic Cinecittà Studios.
The Rome-based couture house is diving deeper into virtual reality with the launch of Valentino Insights in December 2020. The interactive virtual experience invites you to walk around a digital 3D replica of a Mediterranean villa inspired by creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli’s modern home in Nettuno, Italy.
Valentino hired American actress and social media celebrity Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman to be the effigy of its latest collection.
Brand country: Italy Founded in: 1960 Industry: Fashion Product categories: clothing, shoes, accessories, fragrances, beauty
Most popular Valentino items online
When searching for Valentino online, people most often look for the following collections:
- Valentino shoes
- Valentino bags
- Valentino sneakers
- Valentino perfume
Online interest for Valentino over time
Spanish luxury brand Balenciaga, part of French luxury group Kering, is the biggest loser on our list this year, dropping by a staggering six points.
As shown by the search terms most often associated with the brand, Balenciaga still relies heavily on its designer sneakers collection that was at the forefront of the luxury sneaker movement a few years ago. Balenciaga’s Triple S model that came out in 2017 and the 2016 Speed Trainer were instant hits when they first launched. The Triple S sneakers helped define the ugly dad shoe trend but failed to generate the same enthusiasm as the Speed Trainers. Time will tell if the Balenciaga Track 2 sneakers can lift the brand back to its previous high in 2021.
On the digital front, Balenciaga made a bold move in December 2020 with the launch of its AW21 collection within a video game, Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow. With a QR code, players could connect via any computer or smartphone to explore the game’s various areas while discovering creative director Demna Gvasalia’s new designs.
Brand country: Spain Founded in: 1919 Industry: Fashion Product categories: clothing, shoes, and accessories
Most popular Balenciaga items online
When searching for Balenciaga online, people most often look for the following collections:
- Balenciaga Triple S
- Balenciaga shoes
- Balenciaga sneakers
- Balenciaga Track
- Balenciaga bag
Top Balenciaga items for women
Top Balenciaga items for men
Online interest for Balenciaga over time
Cartier’s online popularity remains fairly constant in 2021, with the brand dropping by one spot but maintaining a consistent level of search interest.
The French luxury jewellery and high-end watch brand continues to produce a combination of highly polished videos and timeless design to appeal to a younger generation of luxury shoppers. The brand’s customers covet Cartier’s love bangles (one of the most searched for pieces of jewellery on Google) and Panthers watches, and are comfortable purchasing them online. In 2018, Cartier was already making 43% of its sales to consumers under 35 years old – testament to Cartier’s ability to resonate with the new generations of luxury shoppers. The trend is even more apparent in Asia, where more than half of their customers are Millennials and Gen Z.
Cartier also remains faithful to social commitments such as women empowerment with its Cartier Women’s Initiative.
In the absence of a major watchmaking event in 2020, Cartier launched an online platform, Watchmaking Encounters, to showcase its new releases.
Cartier was also the first Richemont-owned brand to open a flagship store on Alibaba Group’s Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion, an important move in the hard luxury sector.
Brand country: France Founded in: 1847 Industry: Jewellery Product categories: jewellery, watches, accessories, and fragrances
Most popular Cartier items online
When searching for Cartier online, people most often looked for the following products:
- Cartier bracelet (Cartier Love bracelet)
- Cartier ring
- Cartier watch
- Cartier glasses
Online interest for Cartier over time
Despite a solid background as a digital luxury pioneer, British luxury brand Burberry lost four points this year to rank number fourteen on our list of the best luxury brands online.
While it enjoys a large social media audience with 44.2 million followers, Burberry suffers one of the lowest engagement rates across all channels.
If last year, Burberry adopted the drop model favoured by hip streetwear brands, the brand failed to capitalise on the loungewear trend this year while consumer demand for Burberry’s iconic trench coat declined. The brand’s investments in forward-looking digital retail spaces also failed to pay off this year due to limited offline shopping opportunities.
Noteworthily, Burberry boasts one of the most widespread presence on e-commerce platforms among luxury brands – be it owned or via online retailers and luxury online department stores.
In February 2020, Burberry debuted an augmented reality (AR) shopping tool through Google Search technology. The AR tool allows consumers to experience the British fashion label’s products embedded at scale against other real-life objects in the environment around them.
Often positioned as a luxury brand of firsts, Burberry became the first luxury fashion brand to embrace Twitch, Amazon-owned live video streaming service typically used by gamers. In September 2020 the british fashion house livestreamed its Spring/Summer 2021 with the support of celebrities like Bella Hadid and Rosalía.
Brand country: United Kingdom Founded in: 1856 Industry: Fashion Product categories: clothing, shoes, accessories, watches, fragrances, and beauty
Most popular Burberry items online
When searching for Burberry online, people most often looked for the following products:
- Burberry perfume
- Burberry shirt
- Burberry bag
- Burberry coat
Online interest for Burberry over time
Luxury watch manufacturer Omega makes its first appearance on our list at number fifteen. Although delayed, the interest surrounding the latest James Bond movie, which Omega heavily invests in, helps generate online interest for the Swiss brand. A similar spike in online search for Omega is visible every year a new James Bond movie is released.
While significantly smaller than its arch-rival Rolex, Omega enjoys a strong audience of brand aficionados. The Seamaster and Speedmaster models remain essential to the brand. Omega is also featured among one of the best luxury watch brands in the world by our watch editors.
Omega rolled out its European e-commerce site which until 2020 was restricted to the US and UK.
Brand country: Switzerland Founded in: 1848 Industry: Watch Product categories: watches
Most popular Omega items online
When searching for Omega online, people most often looked for the following products:
- Omega Seamaster
- Omega Speedmaster
- Omega Constellation
Online interest for Omega over time
Best luxury brands of 2021: Key takeaways to be popular online
After compiling this list of the 15 best luxury brands online in 2021, some key factors seem to support their online popularity.
1. Beyond digital, the omnipotence of omnipresence
The best performing brands have all invested in strengthening their online retail channels and offering a seamless experience across devices and geographies. Even the most conservative legacy luxury brands are ramping up their digital transformation efforts this year to embrace ecommerce.
Leading luxury brands pivot to omnichannel shopping behaviours.
The most popular luxury brands are all experimenting with new tools and marketing formats to drive their visibility and facilitate (online) shopping.
Luxury brands offer virtual appointments and personalised support through live chat assistance for their customers. Omnichannel services such as click-and-collect, return-in-store, click-from-store, and in-store appointments are also available to online shoppers.
Furthermore, brands continue to experiment with augmented reality and immersive experiences, from virtual showrooms and shows (in lieu of IRL audiences) to live streaming, virtual fitting and 3D viewing of products.
2. Orient Express: Luxury brands ride east
Many of the popular luxury brands are expanding their offering to the Middle East and China.
China, in particular, is set to become the world’s largest luxury market by 2025, leading luxury brands across the globe to seriously look East.
But if China appears to be the growth engine for many luxury brands in the current climate, what will be most important long term will be their ability to be locally relevant. In every country they venture in. The experiments on Tmall and WeChat are just the beginning.
3. Palpable polarisation: Casual luxury vs investment pieces
Luxury continues its polarisation. The most popular luxury brands are leveraging at least one side of the balance.
The rise of loungewear and the casualisation of luxury fashion with lower-priced streetwear styles continues. Demand for the cosy, comfortable and comforting skyrocketed this year and premium brands happily answered this demand with renewed loungewear collections.
But affluent consumers are also increasingly aspiring to fewer but better luxury goods: High-ticket investment pieces with longer use potential and higher resale value. Luxury handbags, high-end watches and hard luxury are performing well in many cases thanks to their appeal as investment pieces and the general trend in self-gifting.
4. Brand-entertainment is the new luxury game
The convergence of gaming and luxury continues as luxury brands realise the power of immersing consumers in participatory worlds, especially to connect with Gen Z and Millennial consumers.
From gaming-inspired merchandise to in-game fashion designs (called “skins” in gaming) and brands creating their own video games on social media or within dedicated brand apps – the most popular luxury brands are investing in gaming.
Valentino released in-game clothes for Animal Crossing: New Horizons’s millions of players to wear.
Gucci partnered with Esports entertainment brand Fnatic to release a collection of limited-edition dive watches available exclusively online. Gucci also developed various games all accessible from The ‘Gucci Arcade’ – the gaming vertical found on Gucci’s own retail app. (Fun fact: ‘GG’ also stands for ‘good game’ in gaming).
Luxury fashion brand Balenciaga unveiled their new Autumn/Winter 2021 collection through Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow, an online video game.
If some gamification initiatives may seem gimmicky, gaming and esports have proven effective for luxury brand storytelling and consumer engagement, but also a creative channel that can drive new monetisation opportunities.
5. Cool-laborations make luxury brands hotter
Collaborations are not a novelty anymore for luxury brands, but they haven’t reached oversaturation yet if the latest collaborations in the luxury sneaker-world are anything to go by.
Several of the most popular luxury brands like Dior, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci are releasing buzzy collaborations, driving a great amount of hype online.
When Dior and Nike revealed their limited edition Air Dior sneaker designed by creative director Kim Jones, five million people registered online for a chance to purchase the coveted sneaker.
Gucci teamed up with iconic outdoor brand The North Face to offer a collection of ready-to-wear, accessories, footwear and equipment for men and women.
Prada launched yet another sneaker with Adidas and Louis Vuitton launched a capsule collection featuring the NBA.
6. Social media is still trending (for now)
From engagement to a full marketing capability, social media is playing an important role for the most popular luxury brands.
It will be interesting to see how social media presence or absence (in the case of Bottega Veneta who created a media buzz around deleting their social media accounts) will continue to impact the online popularity of luxury brands moving forward.
For now, being fluent in social media is key for the most popular luxury brands to connect and engage with the next generations of luxury consumers.
Instagram maintains its social media lead in the number of luxury followers. In China, WeChat and Weibo dominate social conversations while fast-growing channels like RED and Douyin (Tik Tok) are becoming increasingly relevant for younger generations. New social media channels present new opportunities for luxury brands.
7. Sustainability is non-negotiable for sustainable growth
Modern luxury consumers are increasingly conscientious. For luxury brands, the ability to speak to this new mindset and live those responsible values is non-negotiable.
The luxury industry’s sustainable efforts are under heavier scrutiny – reinforcing the need for the world’s best luxury brands to become more trustworthy by providing transparent information about their processes and products.
The pressure seems to be working. The most popular luxury brands online have launched notable sustainable initiatives.
Prada successfully expanded its Re-Nylon collection with a full conversion to regenerated nylon on track by the end of 2021.
In June 2020, Gucci launched its first line of accessories and streetwear made from recycled, organic, bio-based and sustainably sourced materials, followed by an official partnership with resale site TheRealReal later in the year.
Hermès, known for using luxurious materials like ostrich and crocodile leather, announced in March 2021 its first attempt at a vegan-friendly leather bag – the result of an exclusive collaboration with California-based start-up MycoWorks to reimagine their popular Victoria bag using Sylvania, a new material made from Fine Mycelium (essentially mushroom roots).
This year will be a year of transition, ushering out conspicuous consumption in favour of conscious, elevated living.
Future-proofing opportunities lie in resiliency, agility and nimbleness in the face of changing consumer behaviours and an unpredictable environment. To remain relevant, luxury brands will need to increase their online brand visibility, nurture desirability and engage with their customers on their own terms.
That means focusing on an omnichannel approach, of course, but also highlighting the quality and timelessness of their products and delivering sustainability through the value chain.
Luxury brands must lean in and transform themselves from a brand-centric, controlled and confidential model to a more transparent, engaging and customer-centric organisation. Delivering a timely and timeless form of meaningful value and empowering expressions of individual identities will widen the lead of the best performing luxury brands against the poor digital performers.
In 5 words: Convenience, craftsmanship, core values, conversations and consumer-centricity.
Methodology and sources: How we rank the best luxury brands of the year
Luxe Digital’s luxury brands ranking aims to provide a real-time and insightful analysis of the most popular brands online. Our ranking offers a clear picture of how each brand is performing online and can help business leaders predict future growth.
With over a decade of experience in luxury and online marketing, our team has a deep understanding of what drives a brand’s popularity among affluent consumers. We know how crucial a thoughtful digital marketing strategy is to business growth. Get in touch with our marketing agency to see how you could grow your online presence and create a loyal customer base.
To create this ranking, we start our analysis by using a list from Deloitte of the world’s top 100 luxury goods companies based on their consolidated sales. Deloitte’s report also includes the group’s perspectives on key future trends that will shape the luxury industry and is worthwhile reading for anyone interested in the industry.
We then extract luxury companies from Forbes top 100 most valuable brand list. Forbes’ list is arguably more open to interpretation as they take into account several data points that are not necessarily consistently available for all brands. When combined with the actual sales figures from Deloitte’s reports, however, we were confident that we had a solid starting point.
Next, we use Google Trends to measure actual search interest for each luxury brand online. This year, Gucci continued to dominate the share of search, so we use the brand as the standard against which we measure all the other brands on our list to have a single comparison point.
After observing a significant concentration of the share of search interest among the top 15 luxury brands on our list, we summed up their individual average search interest for 2021 to get a baseline of the total search interest for the top 15 brands. We then calculated a ratio for each brand against that total to get their share of the total search interest.
Our summary table at the top of this article refers to the following terms:
- Share of search interest is calculated based on worldwide Google Trends data. We measure the absolute search interest for each of the top luxury brands during the period, then calculate how much attention they receive compared to the other brands in our ranking as a percentage of the total search interest for luxury brands.
- Website traffic is estimated based on SimilarWeb data, using the primary brand domain.
- Social media audience is calculated based on Rival IQ reports for each brand as of April 2021. It represents the sum of Facebook Fans, Instagram Followers, Twitter Followers, and YouTube Subscribers.
- Social media engagement rate is calculated based on Rival IQ reports for each brand as of April 2021. It represents the total number of engagement actions across all tracked social channels, combining comments, likes and shares, and divided by the total audience.
Best luxury brands: Frequently asked questions
We started with a list of the top 100 luxury brands in the world, so most of the brands on our initial list didn’t make it to the top 15. The brands that felt just short are Saint Laurent, Fendi, Dolce Gabbana, Lancôme, Tom Ford, Estee Lauder, Moncler, and Givenchy in that order.
A high-end brand is a brand that produces high-quality products with premium materials and craftsmanship expertise. The value of a high-end brand’s products is, of course, subjective, however.
Louis Vuitton is the world’s most valuable luxury brand. It would also be the world’s most expensive brand if a company wanted to purchase it from the LVMH group.
A luxury brand is a brand that designs, produces, and sells high-end goods and services. The luxury market is typically defined by an elastic demand, meaning that consumers will spend more on luxury items once their income grows. Inversely, luxury spending sharply drops when income declines.
Louis Vuitton is generally more expensive than Gucci for comparable products. Several factors may influence the final price of a luxury item, however, including the country where you buy the item and the international duties you may have to pay.
The most expensive shoe brand on our list is Hermès. While every luxury brand on our list has a range of shoes at different prices, Hermès is, on average, the most expensive brand.
The top 15 luxury clothing brands are Gucci, Chanel, Hermès, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Versace, Armani, Valentino, Balenciaga, Burberry, Saint Laurent, Fendi, Dolce Gabbana and Tom Ford. They are all luxury fashion and clothing brands producing designer clothes.
Items from every luxury brand on our list are worth it. But, in general, luxury goods are worth it when you invest in timeless items that require true craftsmanship to be produced. Most luxury brands also sell accessible luxury products, such as accessories, perfumes, and beauty products, that are not necessarily worth the price tag.
- Global Powers of Luxury Goods. The new age of fashion and luxury, by Patrizia Arienti, Deloitte, 2021.
- The World’s Most Valuable Brands, Forbes, 2021.
- Google Trends, Google, 2021.
- SimilarWeb Market Intelligence Solutions, SimilarWeb, 2021.
- Rival IQ Social media analytics, Rival IQ, 2021.