Have you ever heard about Vegan Luxury? And do you think it is an emerging trend? Recently, I and two other teammates have conducted a qualitative research under the scope of the course Marketing Research Methodology at IÉSEG School of Management on this topic. The research was done in small scale with 11 indepth interviews; yet we have obtained quite a few significant insights on (1) Consumer’s perception of and opinion about vegan luxury and the current alternatives to leather for luxury products; and (2) If vegan luxury is more suitable for some luxury brands or for some luxury consumers. We, therefore, in this and next post, would like to share some interesting discoveries from our research: findings for the first point are presented in this post while the next will uncover point number 2.
To begin with, let’s go through what veganism is and how this lifestyle has become popular worldwide. Vegetarianism which is not a brand-new concept, represents a philosophy and way of living where followers, or vegans, exclude as far as possible all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. (The Vegan Society, 2017). The rise of veganism has boosted consumers’ aspirations for healthier and more ethical lifestyles, resulting in many opportunities for businesses to establish and grow. With that trend, luxury brands cannot be certain that previous perception on luxury materials such as bone, leather, fur, etc. is still applied and ensures success in long run. On such spirit, vegan luxury, once perceived as highly niche, restricted to the extremely rich and famous, has become popular, indicating the potential of the market.
As mentioned earlier, we conducted 11 in-depth interviews, in which selected interviewees are between the age of 20 and 34 years old, who are Millennials, the current key customers for luxury brands to target and are matured yet young enough to be aware of and influenced by veganism. Also, selected respondents are current residents in Paris with various nationalities of Germany, French, US, Spain, Vietnam, and China. In terms of consuming behavior, they are using from affordable luxury to premium-core items with at least one leather item.
Vegan luxury is not a new concept but people don’t really understand what it means
The interviews show that people that are familiar with luxury products, somehow know the concept, or, at least can have some ideas about Vegan luxury. Most of the interviewees could describe some definition or gave some words related to the concept. The people that never heard about vegan luxury still had right guess about the meaning thanks to the word ‘vegan’. Except for one vegetarian, no interviewee showed rich understanding of this concept.
Vegan is related to animal
Most of the interviewees mentioned about “animals” when we asked the question “What are the words first come to your mind at the word “Vegan Luxury”?”. “Not harm to animal”, “not using product from animals”, “no effect to animal” and “PEAT” are some of the description about vegan products.
From environment to vegan
There is a very interesting thing when we try to develop the ideas of the interviewee about the concept with the question “Why do you think of these words?”. The ideas of environment are mentioned a lot. People already have a high awareness of sustainable environment or eco-friendly activities. Therefore, it is not difficult for consumers catch the new concept of vegan luxury.
Leather and luxury have a strong connection
Most of the interviewees mentioned there was a strong connection between leather and luxury. The reason is that leather and luxury have some common values, such as the quality, longevity and timelessness. However, there’re a few people who did not appreciate this connection because of the “price values” of leather are depend on the origins which cannot apply for luxury in some cases.
People don’t show strong desire to use leather alternatives
From the interviews, we realize that people still doubt about the quality of leather alternatives. Some interviewees showed the willingness to try luxury products made of leather alternatives while some of them show a neutral opinion or say no when we asked them choose between the real leather and leather relatives. Beside quality, feedback from other users was taken into account.