Baulking at Big Brands

The luxury market is shifting towards exclusive niche labels

The shift in consumer preference towards more nuanced labels

Savvy consumers are starting to question the value of big designer labels. Instead, they are looking to discover more unique niche luxury brands that deliver on quality, exclusivity, and user experience. Brand heritage and history are becoming much less of an influencing factor.

This shift has spread through fashion and beauty and is now affecting the luxury services industries such as hospitality and travel. Consumers are looking for unique experiences, providing exemplary bespoke services, rather than sticking to the more well known established luxury brands. There are significant opportunities for small businesses which can deliver exceptional user experiences to carve out a niche.

The rise of the discerning millennials and Generation Z

Affluent Asian consumers are particularly savvy about luxury markets and shifts in purchasing trends tend to be driven from this area of the world. Deloitte highlights that ‘The latest trend among Hong Kong SAR luxury consumers is to look for niche luxury brands in order to create a unique personal style’.

By 2025, millennials and Generation Z will account for over 40% of the luxury goods market, up from 30% in 2016, according to Deloitte. As this next generation of affluent consumers starts to account for the lion’s share of demand, their buying habits will exert even more pressure.

Niche market opportunities for emerging talent

A more discerning customer is developing, that not only wants to show peers that they are knowledgable, but also that they have the time to discover new emerging talent. This shunning of more established luxury brands creates an opportunity for the smaller, often family-run, local entrepreneurs.

‘Customers gain satisfaction from showing their peers they have time to discover emerging talent’ — Nick Cakebread, founder, The Luxury Conversation.

Seamless service and individuality

How can entrepreneurs market to this new consumer? The ability to show a more humanized product or service is key. Authenticity and uniqueness are valued alongside transparency, as consumers seek out brands that align with their personal values. To get consumers to invest time, and ultimately money, businesses need to show how they tick.

  1. A transparent pricing policy, for example, with no hidden extras, shows an appreciation and respect for this market-savvy customer.
  2. Providing an exceptional level of service that goes beyond expectations is imperative.
  3. Consumers want bespoke tailor-made experiences designed to meet their specific requirements and appeal to their desire to be individual.
  4. Adding value by providing useful tools and information that enhance the user experience and promote loyalty.

Niche luxury holiday experiences

The luxury tourism industry is changing as well, with discerning holidaymakers increasingly looking for boutique, tailored alternatives to the big names. Small independent hotels in prime locations that exude character and authenticity provide an attractive alternative to the large chain hotels such as The Hilton. The user experience is much more personal and there is a great satisfaction for the customer that discovers these hidden gems. For those who don’t have the time to spare, there are plenty of websites that have done the research for you and unearthed a selection of some of the very best.

The sailing holiday sector is dominated by the likes of The Moorings and Sunsail. However, demand for more niche operators is growing. Focus group research on social media suggests that holidaymakers ‘would definitely prefer to charter from a smaller company’ but that ‘sometimes it is very difficult to find these small companies when searching for sailing charters’.

What the customer can gain from going with a smaller operator is a more human personalized touch. Businesses are run on recommendation and therefore ensuring each and every customer experiences a holiday of a lifetime is vital.

Robert Kuzma, co-founder at The Yacht Break, said: “There is no way we can compete with the advertising budgets of the major players. So making sure clients have the best possible holiday experience when they charter a yacht with us is critical. Each booking is vital, so our customers know they are not just another booking reference.”

With its wealth of local expertise and fully personalized service, sailing with The Yacht Break offers a refreshing change to large, international operators.

The personal touch

At The Yacht Break, they have concentrated on one specialization; providing first-class sailing holidays in Croatia, complete with a skipper to ensure you can relax and enjoy yourselves without a care in the world.

And they pride themselves on a highly personalized service. The small, dedicated team nurtures a lasting relationship with the client, becoming emotionally involved. Moreover, they vet all the yachts to ensure the customer’s expectations are met and have invested employees. This helps to avoid the sort of problems that can arise with holidays booked through bigger firms.

Their service bears all the hallmarks of a successful, customer-focused, niche operator. Transparent pricing, a bespoke personalized service that goes above and beyond expectations, and plenty of extra flourishing touches that guarantee an exceptional user experience.

What is more, they have invested time and effort in creating a top quality online presence which makes them accessible to customers looking for more niche markets. Their website is packed with helpful advice and articles, booking can be completed securely online using a credit card, and their service is both professional and trustworthy.

For a more in-depth discussion on why you should consider booking your next luxury holiday with a smaller operator, read this article by The Yacht Break: Small but Perfectly Formed.

Having tasted paradise, all I want to do is return. While I plot of ways to get back, I’m writing about my experiences on board with

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