Luxury, Leisure and African Consumers
Fast cars, designer apparel, jewellery, fine cosmetics are just some of the things that make up the luxury goods industry. These are the beautiful things for which the richest of the rich are willing to pay top currency. African consumers are not much different from their global counterparts when it comes to buying and using luxury goods.
In 2014, Deloitte found that Africa is one of the most promising markets for the luxury goods industry. This makes sense as African countries are developing each year – however, slow the pace of GDP growth, countries in the continent are constantly growing and high earners along with them. As to be expected, Nigeria and South Africa were singled out as hotspots of growth. A 2013 study by Bain & Co, who research and study the luxury market, found that the global luxury market was worth €217bn. At the time, Africa contributed under 1% (€1.5bn-2bn). Half of that 1% came from South Africa.
What motivates luxury goods spending?
Aside from offering comfort, luxury goods have, over centuries, come to indicate affluence. The thing stops being a thing. It’s not just a car, it’s a symbol of 15 years’ work. Each possession becomes a notch on the owner’s belt showing – either to themselves or the world – how far they’ve come. A 2014 psychology and buying behaviour study by researchers at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia found that there are two types of pride that influence buying, especially when the item is in the luxury goods category.
The desire to purchase luxury goods and the desire to display them don’t come from the same place. “Authentic pride” and “hubristic pride” are constantly battling it out. The study found that while the buyer may have intended the purchase as a sign of affirmation for their success, onlookers are likely to perceive the luxury goods as a display of arrogance. “While people feel snobbish from using luxury goods, a desire to feel or appear snobbish was often not the primary motive.” Says a comment in the findings.
Luxury cars in Africa
Luxury cars make up the bulk of luxury purchases. Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa are among the leading markets in Africa’s consumption of luxury cars and SUVs. If the psychology behind the enjoyment of luxury goods is that they act as rewards, luxury car drivers reward themselves with speed and power and those smooth leather seats daily. However, the luxury car is the playground of the more experienced luxury goods consumer. It demands a certain gravitas and stability.
Designer wear in Africa
Sometimes designer apparel shouts. A big logo, a shoe sole in a specific colour; other times, it whispers. A timepiece. A simple handbag stitched to perfection. The presence or absence of a big logo has been used to differentiate between those who are new luxury goods consumers and those who are old hands. Unlike in cars where logos are part of design, clothing and jewellery are the place where it is deemed garish, suddenly, for expensive things to shout that they’re expensive. With Africa being home to growing economies and the place where luxury goods are just finding their footing, it’s to be expected that the designer wear consumed not be inconspicuous.
The easiest way for people interested in being consumers of luxury goods to get started is through accessories. They may be unable to afford a signature item sold by a luxury brand but they can still buy themselves a piece. Enter sunglasses, scarves and the like.
Leisure and luxury meet in Africa
If it’s not a shopping spree in a glittering Middle Eastern city, luxurious leisure takes the form of parties where decadent food and fine spirits flow generously. There are the beauty and cosmetic treatments and modes of travel. A business class ticket for a meeting out of town or those five-star train tours down the wine route.
The luxurious leisure market is the one place where Africa stands to make the most money out of the luxury industry. Hospitality and tourism across the continent are a unique selling point because the experiences are unique to their regions. You cannot import a European version of the Victoria Falls or other luxury tourism experiences that are can only be enjoyed on the continent.
Luxury goods in Africa are here to stay
Most reports continue to say that Africa is emerging as one of the geographies that will sustain the luxury goods industry. While it would be more profitable in the long run to put status and pride in locally sourced and produced luxury goods, there’s no denying that the Italian logos will always have their specific pull as symbols of success. For African luxury goods to have a fighting chance, they need to offer the same feeling of reward and exclusivity. The experiences must be incomparable.
Maybe, the satisfaction of that watch will also come in that the buyer didn’t have to fly across three continents to get it.