A regular review of interesting cultural shifts & marketing developments as viewed through the collective lens of the Stancombe Research + Planning Team

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Enduring luxury

When the gravity and weight of the GFC was felt (and is still being felt in many places around the world), many pundits believed those who could afford luxury goods would become more conservative and shy away from symbols of wealth and prestige (e.g. frugal chic).

However, now with the dust settled we know people have not stop purchasing luxury goods. So what's changed?

While it appears while our appetite and consumption of luxury goods has remained relatively healthy, it has been our understanding of what luxury goods mean and our relationship with them (depending on who you are) that has gone through a transformation.

Chris Sanderson, strategy and insight director at The Future Laboratory articulates the flavour of this transformation below:

“The language of luxury has changed. You can’t say this is the most expensive, excessive product ever, that’s no longer going to cut through, it has to be the most considered, interesting and intellectual.” source B&T

One way of demonstrating a 'considered, interesting and intellectual' purchase is to go with the product with the least amount of branding, which is more or less a way of differentiating one self from the 'cashed up bogan'. PPR chief executive Fracois-Henri Pinault explains: "There's a new perception of luxury, a more discreet sophisticated luxury where notions of heritage and craft play a big role" source news.com.au

Ed Cotton from Influx Insights takes the concept of 'considered, interesting and intellectual' purchases one step further with his suggestion that companies should consider offering services to refurbish their products as a way of reducing obsolescence (and land fill) and creating an enduring experience with the brand:

"Too many corporations and brands are only too willing and eager to let their customers give up on the products too fast and send them to landfill...what if brands could build up a scalable business re-furbishing their old products...consumers would be looking for brands through a different lens; they would be thinking about a lifetime of experience" Source Influx Insights

Ed also provides the wonderful example of BMW 'Classic Center' that refurbishes old vintage BMW cars and motorcyles

So instead of outright rejecting luxury, maybe our understanding of luxury is maturing and we are rediscovering what luxury is all about? That is, real luxury items are wonderfully crafted objects that are admired, desired and treasured enough to last a long period of time. It's hard to argue that real luxury items don't end up as land fill.

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