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Lightning 50 Sector Special: How These Luxury Brands Have Triumphed While Others Have Floundered

Candy Kittens

Brightpearl’s Lightning 50 was launched in 2021 to recognize the UK’s fastest-growing online brands. With the full shortlist now announced, we’re taking a closer look at the sectors that have seen some of the most impressive results. 

In this blog, we’re looking at the luxury goods sector

With five luxury brands featuring on the Lightning 50 – and three of them named in the top five – you might think the luxury sector, in general, is booming. 

However, the luxury goods industry was heavily impacted by the 2020 pandemic. 

The core personal luxury goods market contracted for the first time since 2009, falling by 23 percent last year. The drop is the largest recorded since Bain began tracking the industry.

Bucking the trend

So how have the brands on the Lightning 50 – including Candy Kittens, Au Vodka and Jericho Coffee Traders – managed to buck the trend? 

“Even during a global pandemic, while other luxury goods brands floundered, the luxury goods businesses recognized in the Lightning 50 have seen revenue go through the roof,” said Mark Hook, Global Director of Comms at Brightpearl.

“It’s clear that embracing the right tech has played a significant role in the astonishing success of these businesses. 

“From a savvy approach to social media, exemplified perfectly by Au Vodka, to using top e-commerce platforms like Shopify and marketplaces like Etsy, choosing the right tech has proved to play a bigger-than-ever role in the success of online businesses. 

“It also appears that stand-out luxury goods brands, such as Jericho Coffee Traders, have been able to provide products that have given customers a brief escape from the somewhat bleak reality of living through a global pandemic.”

Let’s look at some of the luxury goods brands that made the list…

Au Vodka

Lightning 50 ranking: 1

Revenue increase: 10,170%

Storming its way to the Lightning 50 top spot, Au Vodka is an ultra premium British vodka brand, famed for its signature shiny gold bottle and its endorsements from A-list celebs, most notably boxing legend Floyd Mayweather. With more than 400,000 Instagram followers, the brand has become the UK’s biggest selling vodka, with the exception of Smirnoff. 

At a time when bars and clubs were mostly closed, the Welsh drinks brand’s revenue sky-rocketed by a whopping 10,170% last year. Stocked in Morrisons, Costco and Bookers Wholesale, as well as sold DTC via its Shopify-powered website, Au Vodka has well and truly shown that it’s not all doom and gloom for luxury goods. 

Jericho Coffee Traders

Lightning 50 ranking: 3

Revenue increase: 683%

Jericho Coffee Traders, based in Oxford, UK, first earned its reputation as an espresso bar and roastery – but it has seen its growth go through the roof since starting an innovative coffee subscription service. 

Coffee-lovers everywhere can enjoy freshly brewed, delicious coffee from the comfort of their own home – and enjoy the treat of it landing on their doormat every few weeks. With coffee shops closed during lockdown, it’s no surprise that fed up Brits signed up for the service from JCT – but they’ve remained subscribers even after cafes re-opened. 

With an awesome leap in revenue of 683%, the brand, which takes third place on the Lightning 50, is a shining example of how luxury goods can thrive, even in the trickiest of times. 

Candy Kittens

Lightning 50 ranking: 4

Revenue increase: 608%

British gourmet sweets Candy Kittens is the third luxury goods brand in the top 5 businesses on the Lightning 50 – and for good reason. 

Co-founded by Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing, Candy Kittens makes delicious sweets for grown-ups that are vegan-friendly, palm oil-free and made with natural flavors. Thanks to a Shopify-powered website, a winning marketing strategy and a dedicated approach to customer service, the brand is another which has bucked the general trend for luxury goods and experienced impressive growth – with a 608% jump in revenue last year. 

Top 5 tech driving growth in the luxury goods sector: 

  1. Shopify
  2. Facebook ads
  3. Instagram
  4. Google ads 
  5. Etsy

Do you run a luxury goods brand that’s doing awesome things?

Applications are now open for next year! Enter now.