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Luxury Brand Management

In ancient civilisations, Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Europeans, Chinese, luxury items were highly revered and used as symbols of royalty, prestige and power. 

In the days of Plato, the Romans and early Christians, luxury adopted a negative connotation that signified the corruption of a virtuous life. 

And with the works of Adam Smith, who viewed having a taste for luxury as rather contemptible despite its desirable effects, and David Hume contending that a taste for luxury was desirable, because it promoted economic and political development (it brought down feudalism for example) make the concept of luxury even more complex as their dispute arose chiefly around the problem of disentangling the economic, moral-theological and political strands of the term – and nothing to do with humanity’s taste for the good life.

These representations thus make the concept of luxury quite diverse and relative. 

Traditionally, a luxury item is viewed as not a necessity for daily living, but positioned as a highly-desired item used by a society segment to show their success, a certain status, or could it simply be for the love of beauty, comfort and pleasure?

Historically, luxury brands promoted a culture of exclusion, limiting access to the product, detaching it from the global customer, and restricting communications around it. There are various reasons for this which may become more clear as the program enfolds.

In the last couple of years, the perception of luxury and what’s expected from luxury brands due to changing economics, environmental concerns, and among a younger generation of consumers with higher buying power – has further muddled the concept of what luxury really represents.

Luxury is no longer just about a brand name or solely synonymous with material things. New perspectives around values, and ethical and moral behaviors, cultural differences, social class, globalisation, technology, digital and social media are reshaping consumers’ approach to luxury purchases and luxury brands’ approach to distribution channels. 

These factors are often contradictory and have different impacts on various segments of the marketplace, depending on who you speak to and what point of view you take.

And yet at its core essence, luxury hasn’t really changed much: It still speaks loudly to human psychology… 

It still embraces all of its previous concepts, values and meanings – it just evolved just like anything else in life.

The things that did change however, is how it’s been described by a new emerging luxury consumer, how it has been positioned in a now globalised economy, how it has been discussed by marketers, how it has been communicated in social media, and how the concept is influenced by billions of opinions.

It still, and always will, represents a high level of aesthetics, executed at all levels from creation, from concept and high quality raw materials, to manufacturing and stylish craftsmanship, service, comfort, uniqueness, expertise and sensibility. 

As customers will always need to feel an emotional connection and an intellectual investment in the pieces they purchase, luxury will always reign supreme due to the qualities and values it harbours. 

Above all else, consumers buy a dream, a dream that says so much more than just what the luxury object (any object for that matter) conveys. People think by buying a certain item, that the item will change the way they look or the way others will perceive them, or the object will change the way they feel about themselves or about life.

This is true even in relationships, people fall in love with certain expectations, if their expectations are being met, they are happy, if not, they are unhappy.

The same goes for any luxury product, there are certain very high expectations attached to it, and it just so happens that in luxury, the expectation is almost always being met, as the high price tag promises it.

Authentic luxury, therefore embodies a more rounded and meaningful customer journey and relationship with a specific brand.

However, it is true that the luxury industry enters, or have already entered, a disruptive revolution with more complexity to their once simple business models with different trends for different markets, product segments and levels of positioning in the value pyramid of products. 

Consumers play a mix and match game across products, markets and distribution channels, and brands have to stay close to the consumer to make sense of their buying behaviour.

Because a sense of time and timelessness, exclusive experience and high value, are intrinsic to any luxury offer, it is difficult to grow in markets where everything has to happen now, and consumers demanding expectations on a million things are changing, and personal views of consumers either distort, or misuse, or deregotorise the concept of luxury, which actually only means a quality product, made by people who love the best in life. 

But it does not mean the concept of luxury is all of a sudden now something else.

It only means how business models change in how to reach a global customer, what channels would be best and how the luxury brand should be protected from – dare I say imposters or imposter-like influences – in future.

RD consults on taking your brand to the next level – luxury.

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