Young Shoppers Prefer Louis Vuitton and Gucci Over Hermès and Chanel

There’s a distinct generational divide when it comes to luxury fashion brands and it could upend the future of the entire category.

When it comes to luxury brands, younger shoppers overwhelmingly prefer Louis Vuitton and Gucci to Hermès and Chanel, a stark generational difference that could signal a massive, long-term shift in the luxury retail industry, according to a new study conducted by the purchase data platform Attain.

The study, which analyzed the shopping preferences of US consumers across all ages and income levels, finds that the youngest group of shoppers, those ages 18-24, significantly prefer Louis Vuitton and Gucci to Prada, Hermès and Chanel. Meanwhile older consumers (ages 55-64) are the opposite, showing a higher affinity for Hermès and Chanel than Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Meanwhile, middle aged consumers (35-54) are 1.2x more likely to buy Prada when compared to other designer brands, according to Attain data. 

There’s also a subtle difference in brand preference by income level. While high-income (earning more than $100,000 annually) consumers over-index on all luxury brands compared to lower income consumers, they have a clear affinity for Prada, Hermès and Chanel. The opposite is true for middle-income ($50,000-$100,000) consumers.

The data paints a dual portrait of the ideal Gucci and Louis Vuitton customer as younger, upwardly mobile consumers, and Prada, Hermès and Chanel as the brands of choice for older, more affluent consumers.

There are two possible interpretations of this data, one being that Hermès and Chanel occupy the highest echelon of the luxury brand market, putting themselves above even the likes of Louis Vuitton and Gucci. All of the brands in the study were selected for their luxury brand status. Buying, and perhaps more importantly, being seen wearing, these brands is a cultural signifier for wealth and refinement. But even within the rarefied world of high-end fashion, there are certain brands that set themselves apart, and Hermès and Chanel, two storied brands synonymous with old-money sophistication, would seem to fit that description. 

Hermès is so infamously exclusive that for years it made its iconic Birkin bags unavailable to all but its most loyal customers, a policy that is the basis for an antitrust suit against the brand. It makes sense that only the wealthiest among us could afford its wares.

The problem with this theory is that Louis Vuitton and Gucci are still popular among the wealthy, and that age and income tend to correlate. Younger consumers could like Hermès and Chanel just fine, they might just be too early in their careers to afford them.

But Jason Goldberg, Chief Commerce Strategy Officer at Publicis, believes the data could exhibit a generational difference in brand equity. Louis Vuitton and Gucci have developed significant brand affinity among young consumers, and that could translate into a boost in sales long-term.

“These are all brands that are generally pretty similar in their appeal and how they appeal to the market,” Goldberg say. What separates a brand, then, is the distinct image it has in our culture, and in this case, the data clearly shows that Zoomers prefer Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

other stories you might like