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Publication 26/10/2021

French Luxury, a dependable asset for tomorrow’s world



For its clients, luxury is now more than ever a dependable asset. Although the pandemic forced a non-negligible proportion of them to modify their consumption habits (postponement of purchases, online retail…), it has not however dampened its appeal. On the contrary, luxury became even more coveted during this period. This holds true for 60% of Americans, 51% of Chinese and 42% of French respondents.


Indeed, luxury is perceived as a highly appealing art de vivre by its clients: 80% of the respondents declare that luxury is “part of their daily life” and 86% associate it “above all with pleasure”. This latter figure is as high as 91% among the Chinese. From the standpoint of clients, luxury enables enhancement of the self.


Over and above its hedonistic dimension, luxury is also a means of securing one’s future. On all three continents, 85% of clients define it as “an investment for the future”. This explains why some purchase luxury goods as an investment with the aim of selling them on. This is the case for 39% of participants in the United States, 23% in China and 20% in France.





Today, France is the country that best incarnates luxury from the standpoint of respondents. When asked which country best represents luxury, 76% of the French mention France first, well ahead of Italy (34%). 64% of the Chinese also position France first, ahead of Italy (44%). Although the Americans put their own country in first place (67%), France ranks second (41%), clearly ahead of Italy (34%). A sign that bears witness to the prestige of French luxury: when it comes to assessing national traditions and cultures in terms of luxury, France obtains the greatest number of scores situated between 9 and 10 on a scale from 1 to 10.


The considerable French luxury appeal capital translates into behavior. Almost half of the respondents declare they regularly purchase French luxury goods. If one also takes into consideration those who purchase from time to time, the proportion rises well above 80% of clients in all three countries: 87% in France, 86% in the United-States and 84% in China. The fashion/jewelry/beauty triad dominates the ranking of the categories most associated with French luxury, although fragrance ranks first in the United States and China. In France, fashion and couture impose themselves as the flagship category.






Behind the widespread appeal of French luxury lies the prestige of art de vivre in France. In this way, in all three countries, France appeals to the imagination of respondents. The Americans and French may well display considerable chauvinism (61% of the former favor American art de vivre and 55% of the French favor their own culture), but the Chinese come across as truly infatuated with French art de vivre. Indeed, 48% of them pinpoint France as the country whose art de vivre they admire most, ahead of their own country (mentioned by 37%). An aspect that is worthy of note in the post-Covid context is that half of the Chinese (51%) as well as of the Americans (48%) consider France to be a dream destination for a luxury trip – an encouraging sign for the future of tourism in the country.



These figures shed light on a noteworthy fact: the values of French luxury incarnate the quintessence of art de vivre in France. Indeed, when asked to define the values of French art de vivre and those of French luxury, respondents choose to rank the same values in top position. Hence, the two values that define luxury are also those that define French art de vivre: “elegance” and “romanticism”. These two values are associated with French luxury by 39% and 36% of respondents respectively and are associated with French art de vivre by 37% and 32% of respondents respectively. This foundation, present in all three countries, bears witness to the power that French culture has to appeal to the imagination as well as its universality.



Over and above this common foundation, some interesting cultural touches emerge. The French perceive French luxury as a symbol of “excellence” (34%) and as steeped in “tradition” (31%). The Americans also focus on its “excellence” and consider it as a “pleasure” of modern civilization (26%). As for the Chinese, they pinpoint values of “creativity” (27%), “esthetics” (25%) and “freedom” (21%).



Last but not least, the quality of the know-how of French luxury professionals is unanimously acknowledged. From this perspective, “made in France” is a sought for signature and above all a guarantee: for 84% of respondents, “luxury products made in France are higher quality” (81% in France and the United States, 90% in China). This know-how revolves both around the history of its big Maisons and brands as well as the reputation of its smaller-scale designers and independent craftspeople. In the three countries, the majority of clients mention them as being characteristic traits of French luxury.




Of the numerous challenges French luxury will be confronted with in the years to come, the study carried out for the Comité Colbert enabled to highlight three in particular:


  • New habits gaining momentum among luxury clients. New attitudes are on the rise such as second-hand luxury which is a significant trend in all countries. Hence, 6 in 10 people declare they purchase second-hand luxury goods in the three countries. In the United States, 35% declare they do so “often”. Furthermore, rental is becoming a habit for some luxury clients and in particular in the United States where 39% of respondents declare they resort often to this option.
  • The influence of social networks in particular in China and the United-States. Although stores continue to play a major role in France, social networks dominate the landscape outside its borders. This is particularly so in China where, coupled to brand communication on websites, they represent a decisive source of influence on consumers’ choice. Social networks also dominate in the United States, even though stores still play an important role on that side of the Atlantic.
  • Social responsibility of luxury brands. This is clearly one of the major challenges French luxury must face as from the present day. From the standpoint of its clients, luxury has a pioneering role to play when it comes to this subject. In the context of the worldwide environmental crisis, according to 85% of clients interviewed in the three countries, the luxury sector must lead by example (production processes, reduction of wasted resources…). The interest in environmentally friendly and responsible luxury products is very real indeed and is expressed on all three continents. A shift towards these trends is worthy of note in China: although excellence remains a core requirement, the level of engagement of French luxury brands is a key expectation in China for the years to come. When asked to describe the two main characteristics of French luxury over the next five years, 37% of the Chinese mention “responsibility” first, ahead of innovation (29%) or excellence (26%).


Source: international study carried out in France, the United States and China on a representative sample of 1,844 individuals aged 18 to 65 years old (60 years old in China), belonging to the top 20% highest income group and purchasers of luxury goods.  



The press (WWD) is talking about our study.



Interview of Bénédicte Epinay, Comité Colbert CEO 



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