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Despite the recession, consumers are choosing luxury products

Apple leapfrogs Google to become the world’s most valuable brand.

Despite the economic uncertainty, consumers are increasingly eager to indulge in luxury brands and are avoiding budget products, according to the latest Global 500 study from the business valuation consultancy Brand Finance.

The study finds that consumers' appetite for luxury and lifestyle brands has increased by 3.3 per cent to $3.46trn between 2011 and 2012, and the global downturn has produced a new breed of recession-proof "alphabrands". 

The high-end fashion chains Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Polo Ralph Lauren have reported huge profits through enhancing their brand value. 

The luxury jewellery brand Tiffany & Co, meanwhile, has also made the Global 500 list for the first time, while the Swiss watchmaker Cartier entered the ranking of the top brands with a value of $3.1bn.

Rolls-Royce has had an increase of 17 per cent in brand value to $3.1bn, while both Daimler and BMW have benefited from the renewed interest in luxury automobiles with brand increases of 20 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively.

The decrease in the value of supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s (now valued at $5.8bn), Asda ($9.4bn) and even Marks and Spencer’s ($4.5bn) in 2011 also suggests that more consumers are looking for luxury brands.

Out of 49 technology firms, Brand Finance has ranked Apple as the world’s most valuable lifestyle brand in 2012, with a value of $70.6bn.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, said: “The rise to prominence of luxury and lifestyle brands in this year’s report is quite impressive. While the world remains shrouded in economic misery, people are investing their hard-earned cash in brands they feel they can rely on to produce quality, long-lasting products. It is also an encouraging sign for the economy to see that the overall value of the Global 500 increase by 3.3 per cent to $3,415bn from last year.”