Despite being such an ubiquitous part of travel—be it for business or leisure—luggage has surprisingly not evolved fast enough to keep pace with changes in the way people travel. The global luggage market last saw its major change in the form of wheeled suitcases in the 1970s.

Now, over five decades later, ‘smart luggage’ could help the global luggage industry take a massive leap to take strides alongside the travel industry. Smart luggage is a new generation of bags and travel gear that features some serious technological enhancements, where luggage is embedded with sensors, chargers, Wi-Fi hotspots, or other electronics. This takes the role of travel bags and accessories far beyond merely holding baggage.

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So, what is it now that has made the global luggage market such a dynamic space? The credit goes to several crowd-funded startups that have emerged in recent years, bringing a touch of much-needed modernization to the luggage industry. A new study by Persistence Market Research (PMR) states that the global luggage market will report a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8% between 2014 and 2020 to stand at US$43.4 bn by 2020. Smart luggage will form a crucial part of the global luggage market as an appreciable share of market activity is reported from this section.

Who are Key Consumers of Luxury Luggage and Smart Travel Bags?

While there’s no denying that the current wave of changes being observed in the global luggage market is limited essentially to top-of-the-range luggage, as smart travel bags gradually gain a footing in the luggage market, they will become more affordable and appealing to the average consumer.

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As a result, the current consumer base for the smart luggage and smart travel bags market is the HNWIs or the uber rich. However, this isn’t necessarily bad news for the global luggage market. The number of HNWIs and consumers with deep pockets is steadily on the rise. This will naturally boost the demand for smart luggage and travel bags. The 2014 edition of the U.S. Wealth Report, which was released jointly by RBC Wealth Management and Capgemini, says that there were 4 Mn HNWIs in the U.S. in 2013. Likewise the number of HNWIs in China was pegged at 700,000 as of 2013 by Bain & Company. The number of HNWIs in China has doubled since 2008.

Noteworthy Developments in Global Luggage Market

The global luggage market is in the midst of a transformation that’s sweeping through faster than expected thanks to smart luggage products. Although companies such as American Tourister and Samsonite enjoy a high brand recall in consumers’ minds, the smart luggage revolution is also being driven by lesser-known crowdfunded startups.

For instance, U.S.-based company Bluesmart Inc., raised funds to the tune of US$1.4 Mn in 2015 to launch a range of travel bags that would be fitted with a battery and two USB chargers, a weighing scale, and a tracking system. Likewise, Samsonite IP Holdings S.àr.l. introduced a new range of suitcases, GeoTrakR, that features cellular-enabled travel bags and baggage tracking systems. Collaborative innovation is also a trend to watch out for, with a case in point being that of German luggage manufacturer Rimowa GmbH teaming up with Airbus Group and Deutsche Telekom AG to develop an entire line of smart suitcases slated for a launch in 2016.

While the smart luggage trend is here to stay, it might still be a bit premature to decide how soon it will disrupt the conventions of the luggage market.

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