What Bravo’s “Real Housewives” can Tell Us about the Luxury Market

12/14/2010 02:18:00 PM

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One of the biggest hits on TV is Bravo’s “Real Housewives” reality series. It’s been the franchise that just keeps on giving, featuring season after season of wealthy housewives across America showering themselves with spa treatments, luxurious clothes, jewelry, and lots of drama.

But then last year, consistent with the rest of the economy, even the Real Housewives struggled! They bought less, downsized homes, and even faced bankruptcies.

This season however, the Real Housewives are back. They are once again buying expensive jewelry and throwing lavish parties. While most of us will never live quite as large as the Housewives, could this mean that the luxury consumer is coming back?

Beyond the DVR, there is real data supporting this:

  • On Cyber Monday, sales of luxury goods rose 24.3% from 2009 (CoreMetrics)
  • Last week, luxury retailer Neiman Marcus announced that it tripled profits last quarter
  • Google Insights for Search reveals that consumers are searching more and more for luxury goods

Searches in the Luxury Goods category: 2010 vs. 2009

Searches related to “Denim” show high-end brands like Dior, True Religion and Paige:

Searches related to “Handbags” show interest in Coach, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Burberry, and luxury retailers like Saks and Neiman Marcus:

Rising searches around “Saks” indicate that even when indulging, some consumers are seeking the best value, and are searching around sales, coupons and outlets:

However, just because consumers have learned to be more deal conscious in their searches, doesn’t mean they are afraid to go big: The size of average luxury transactions grew 10% from Q2 2009 to Q2 2010 (Amex Luxury Report). And global luxury sales are expected to grow 10% this year to $235B (Bain & Co.), which is far more than the 4% growth originally predicted.

Maybe it’s not just the Housewives who are back in the luxury market!

Posted by Jocelyn Liu Delgado, Google Retail Team