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Affluent conversation, Part II

Affluent conversation, Part II

Luxury is a “national obsession” in the UAE, say advertising industry analysts. And rather than taking the shine off all that glitters, the credit crunch could put the exclusion back in exclusive. Part II

December 22, 2008 8:15 by

Luxury living projects such as The Tiger Woods Dubai and artificial island ventures are ongoing, and Burj Al Arab, the epitome of hotel luxury, has become all but a national icon for the burgeoning emirate. November also saw the regional launch of the BMW 7 Series in Dubai’s Montgomery Golf Club.

And why not? The region boasts approximately 400,000 millionaires, according to the Merrill Lynch and Capgemini report, which represents a 17 percent increase during 2007.

The regular Joe. Yet the luxury marketplace is not entirely untouchable, since it is itself a little fractured. While ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs, those possessing over $30 million) might be facing little change in their buying habits, luxury marketers may need to once again woo regular Joe Millionaire, the “aspirational luxury consumer,” who might not opt for the absolute latest in luxury car brands for instance, says McClelland.

The net result evens out somewhat, since UHNWIs are likely to spend more as they find better deals on luxury products. “They’re still buying the exclusive stuff, they’re just not paying as much for it,” he says. “They’re not having to go shop at discount stores in order to survive.” In short, UHNWIs might end up buying even more luxury products, since they’re going to be available at better prices.

At any rate, the region will continue to lure tourists looking for a bargain in this tax-free zone, as it offers better prices than Europe and the US. “You’re not going to see the hit that you see around the world,” he says.

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