Global Luxury Spending Could Decline Due To The Ukraine War
The conflict’s impact on global businesses has spread to luxury industries.
The conflict’s impact on global businesses has spread to luxury industries.
Nearly one month after Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, the conflict’s impact on global businesses has spread to luxury industries.
Most high-fashion brands, including LVMH Group, Burberry, and Kering, closed their stores in Russia earlier this month, while announcing their donations to international humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
How the Russia-Ukraine conflict will eventually affect the global luxury industry will depend on how long it lasts, experts say.
“We see a more likely, immediate, and relevant impact on Russians personal luxury spending locally, strongly driven by local currency devaluation and restrictions in place,” says Claudia D’Arpizio, senior partner and global head of fashion and luxury at Bain & Co., a Boston-headquartered management consulting firm.
Russian luxury customers account for approximately 2%-3%, or about €7 billion (AU$10.28 million) of the total global luxury goods market, she says.
The war will also likely damp consumer confidence in European countries and North America because of increases in energy prices, stock market volatility, the interruption to tourism, and other economic uncertainties, says Federica Levato, a partner at Bain and leader of its luxury practice in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“Upon persistence of the crisis, financial stability could be also affected, particularly generating higher stock market volatility. American consumer confidence could potentially decline and eventually also their luxury spending,” she says.
Since Russia’s invasion, more than 19,000 have been killed, 10 million people have been displaced, and more than AU$119 billion in property has been damaged.
Near-term, the luxury brands have taken an economic hit from their decision to close stores in Russia.
In early March, LVMH temporarily closed its 124 stores in Russia. Other fashion houses—including France’s Kering, Chanel, Hermes International, Swiss group Richemont,, and Italy’s Prada—all announced that they had suspended their operations in Russia through their social media accounts.
However, it is unlikely that the luxury brands will stop doing business in Russia, says Kate Newlin, a principal of New York-based Kate Newlin Consulting.
“When you think about luxury, you think of Russian oligarchs as a major segment of customer,” Newlin says. “It will be a larger bet for LVMH to walk away than, for example, McDonald’s.”
LVMH did not respond to a request for comment. The conglomerate, which owns brands such as Dior, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton, donated €5 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross to help those affected by the war in Ukraine in early March.
British fashion house Burberry declined to comment on the war’s impact on its business. On March 11, it donated to two more organizations, Save the Children, and UNICEF, in support of their Ukraine humanitarian appeals, following an earlier donation to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal.
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Investors are taming impulsive money moves by adding a little friction to financial transactions
To break the day-trading habit that cost him friendships and sleep, crypto fund manager Thomas Meenink first tried meditation and cycling. They proved no substitute for the high he got scrolling through investing forums, he said.
Instead, he took a digital breath. He installed software that imposed a 20-second delay whenever he tried to open CoinStats or Coinbase.
Twenty seconds might not seem like much, but feels excruciating in smartphone time, he said. As a result, he checks his accounts 60% less.
“I have to consciously make an effort to go look at stuff that I actually want to know instead of scrolling through feeds and endless conversations about stuff that is actually not very useful,” he said.
More people are adding friction to curb all types of impulsive behaviour. App-limiting services such as One Sec and Opal were originally designed to help users cut back on social-media scrolling.
Now, they are being put to personal-finance use by individuals and some banking and investing platforms. On One Sec, the number of customers using the app to add a delay to trading or banking apps more than quintupled between 2021 and 2022. Opal says roughly 5% of its 100,000 active users rely on the app to help spend less time on finance apps, and 22% use it to block shopping apps such as Amazon.com Inc.
Economic researchers and psychologists say introducing friction into more apps can help people act in their own best interests. Whether we are trading or scrolling social media, the impulsive, automatic decision-making parts of our brains tend to win out over our more measured critical thinking when we use our smartphones, said Ankit Kalda, a finance professor at Indiana University who has studied the impact of mobile trading apps on investor behaviour.
His 2021 study tracked the behaviour of investors on different platforms over seven years and found that experienced day traders made more frequent, riskier bets and generated worse returns when using a smartphone than when using a desktop trading tool.
Most financial-technology innovation over the past decade focused on reducing the friction of moving money around to enable faster and more seamless transactions. Apps such as Venmo made it easier to pay the babysitter or split a bill with friends, and digital brokerages such as Robinhood streamlined mobile trading of stocks and crypto.
These innovations often lead customers to trade or buy more to the benefit of investing and finance platforms. But now, some customers are finding ways to slow the process. Meanwhile, some companies are experimenting with ways to create speed bumps to protect users from their own worst instincts.
When investing app Stash launched retirement accounts for customers in 2017, its customer-service representatives were flooded with calls from panicked customers who moved quickly to open up IRAs without understanding there would be penalties for early withdrawals. Stash funded the accounts in milliseconds once a customer opted in, said co-founder Ed Robinson.
So to reduce the number of IRAs funded on impulse, the company added a fake loading page with additional education screens to extend the product’s onboarding process to about 20 seconds. The change led to lower call-centre volume and a higher rate of customers deciding to keep the accounts funded.
“It’s still relatively quick,” Mr. Robinson said, but those extra steps “allow your brain to catch up.”
Some big financial decisions such as applying for a mortgage or saving for retirement can benefit from these speed bumps, according to ReD Associates, a consulting firm that specialises in using anthropological research to inform design of financial products and other services. More companies are starting to realise they can actually improve customer experiences by slowing things down, said Mikkel Krenchel, a partner at the firm.
“This idea of looking for sustainable behaviour, as opposed to just maximal behaviour is probably the mind-set that firms will try to adopt,” he said.
Slowing down processing times can help build trust, said Chianoo Adrian, a managing director at Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America. When the money manager launched its online retirement checkup tool last year, customers were initially unsettled by how fast the website estimated their projected lifetime incomes.
“We got some feedback during our testing that individuals would say ‘Well, how did you know that already? Are you sure you took in all my responses?’ ” she said. The company found that the delay increased credibility with customers, she added.
For others, a delay might not be enough to break undesirable habits.
More people have been seeking treatment for day-trading addictions in recent years, said Lin Sternlicht, co-founder of Family Addiction Specialist, who has seen an increase in cases since the start of the pandemic.
“By the time individuals seek out professional help they are usually experiencing a crisis, and there is often pressure to seek help from a loved one,” she said.
She recommends people who believe they might have a day-trading problem unsubscribe from notifications and emails from related companies and change the color scheme on the trading apps to grayscale, which has been found to make devices less addictive. In extreme cases, people might want to consider deleting apps entirely.
For Perjan Duro, an app developer in Berlin, a 20-second delay wasn’t enough. A few months after he installed One Sec, he went a step further and deleted the app for his retirement account.
“If you don’t have it on your phone, [that] helps you avoid that bad decision,” he said.
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