Sun, Sea and Growing Middle Classes: Middle East in Top 10 Global Luxury Markets
The Middle East has been recognised as one of the world’s leading regions for luxury goods and services in a study by Bain & Company.
The global luxury market is on target to reach €223 billion in 2014, aided by a five percent bump in growth this year. With the exception of Japan, China and South America, all markets are now strongly driven by touristic spending, with Chinese consumers bringing the most cash to foreign markets, spending abroad more than three times what they spend locally.
The analysis reveals an increase in Middle Eastern consumption by 11 percent, continuing on the positive path of recent years, fueled by increasing tourism flows.
Claudia D’Arpizio, a Bain partner and lead author of the study, said: “With such cross-pollination of luxury spending, it no longer makes sense to think only in terms of geographies. The focus is shifting to consumers, with local trends and tastes representing only part of the picture.
“This new mind-set has important implications for luxury brands. It requires that they think about their product offering from a more global perspective, with the concept of seasons, a key pillar of this industry, becoming increasingly obsolete.”
Cyrille Fabre, a Bain partner and leader of the Retail & Consumer Products practice in the Middle East, added: “While the international luxury market is affected by a number of causes such as the economic slowdown, unrest in various parts of the world, and currency fluctuation, the Middle East continues to demand luxury goods. The consumption of luxury goods has surged by 11 percent in the region, driven largely by rapid growth in tourism.
“The trend will continue to grow, especially in the GCC with the opening up of new malls and luxury brand stores in the next five years. In fact, the Middle East consumer base for luxury products is rapidly growing with a relatively stable profile. Among all luxury products in the region, the luxury car market and more particularly ‘supercar’ segment is predicted to post a solid growth.”
Bain’s research finds that international travel and tourism is also creating an appetite for 360-degree luxury experiences, such as high-end transportation, including highly customized ‘super cars’ and yachts, as well as luxury hotels and cruises:
- Growth in the luxury car market is solid, up 10 percent from 2013, driven by emerging markets, where luxury vehicles are still seen as a symbol of status and a social enabler. The high degree of personalization for vehicles and even after-sales services is helping to double or in some cases triple the basic price tag.
- Hotels are benefiting from steadily growing demand, up nine percent. Younger generations (30+), who are seeking superior lifestyle experiences, helped to fuel 5 percent growth in the cruise market.
- Yachts are bouncing back at a low, positive single-digit pace (two percent in 2014), while private jet sales are up nine percent, boosted by emerging market demand.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”