NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The number of luxury consumers worldwide has more than tripled in the past 20 years, and will continue its relentless growth for years to come thanks to an increasing number of wealthy shoppers in emerging markets.
About 10 million luxury consumers enter the market each year, according to a Lens on the Worldwide Luxury Consumer report compiled by Bain with broker Redburn Partners and research agency Millward Brown.
In 1995, there were about 90 million luxury consumers around the globe. By last year that jumped to 330 million, the report says, and by 2020 it will be closer to 400 million.
The majority of those consumers last year were in North America (90 million) and Western Europe (80 million). But emerging markets already make up a substantial portion of the luxury consumer base 130 million such shoppers last year, with the Chinese being the leading emerging-market spenders.
"When you look cumulatively at the last 20 years, we have had some major changes in the world economy," says Dan Geller, a behavioral economist and author of Money Anxiety. "China came on board with tremendous economic growth that created affluence. It definitely created luxury consumers. The same thing with India, it has an improving economy also."
There were about 50 million luxury consumers in China last year. Another 25 million came from what the report describes as "other Asian countries" and another 20 million from Latin America.
The report describes China in particular as a "universe of its own" when it comes to luxury shoppers and their diverse profiles. Overall, luxury is viewed as a social enabler in China, with strong demand for well-known luxury brands.