REIMAGINING LUXURY BRANDS

REIMAGINING LUXURY BRANDS

May 23, 2019

By Arshae Ahmed

Have you ever walked inside a glamorous high ceilinged mall, with stores of the biggest brands in the world to your left and right, dreaming about the day you would carry a bag of each of them on both arms like Blair Waldorf? You may have wanted this only to realize that’s the kind of luxury which almost seems booked just for movies, TV shows and the richest of them all having books written about them. Well, that is kind of precisely the point of luxury brands. If just staring at it makes your head spin, it’s probably not for you. Luxury goods are basically, everything at once – they’re of high quality, high price, limited edition and even customized. In case you’re wondering exactly how luxurious luxury brands are, here’s a little run down – Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, the world’s largest luxury goods producer, made a net profit of €8.1 billion on sales of €42.6 billion in 2017. However, the perception of luxury branding has been changing for some time now. That is because, to a good number of millennials, overindulgence is unnecessary. This ‘post luxury’ era has flown over the field of tangible materials and landed firmly on the intangible elements that pull them towards the brands. Luxury isn’t only delivered through the quality of the item that is purchased but also through how the customer was interacted with before, during and after the purchase – how professional the behavior was – if the service exceeded the expectations of the customer. Because you see, one is willing to pay a premium price provided the brand exerts a feeling of positivity in the customer or makes them feel good. This is what makes them perceive the brand as superior. And with millennials as a pretty dominating chunk of purchasers who put values above all, luxury branding is in the stages of going through quite a transition.

FROM HIGH QUALITY TO HIGH VALUE

Perhaps the most influential factor in the evolution of luxury branding in the modern days is quite simply – millennials. High end brands will soon depend on the current younger generation for business who believes in individuality and values over price and exclusivity in quality. Purchase decisions these days are, therefore, a lot more emotional. While previously luxury was found in the exclusivity delivered via expense, now it’s the intellectual and emotional pleasure delivered via satisfaction and comfort. As mentioned earlier, it’s now about the intangible elements like a certain sense of belonging or value based state of mind that brands offer, over something tangible. The factors that are influencing the transition include –

Saving Time. With busy hours and chaotic lives, people choose to pay more for services that help them save time which may include things like – home delivery and shipping.

Value of Personalization. There’s no question that the younger generation values their individuality the most. And so, the opportunity to have a product that can be customized to one’s preferences has been defining luxury for some time now.

Promises that are Kept. Nothing drives trust like transparency. When companies follow through the promises they make whether that is about the sustainable practices they do or the authentic products they use; they automatically establish themselves as trustworthy.

Intangible Experience. It has already been said countless times that today intangible experiences weigh more than tangible goods themselves. What matters more than the product itself in some cases is how the product has been delivered, how professionally the customer has been interacted with or how engaging the various platforms for customer interaction have been.

LUXURY BRANDS AROUND THE WORLD

Luxury brands have certainly taken the steps necessary to partake in the evolving nature of the subject, especially based on the factors that are valued more above the other in different areas of the world. While in some parts of the world, heritage and history are what define luxury, in others exclusivity and experience are the key, which explains the differing luxury brand preferences between the East and the West. In fact, research has shown when it came to top luxury brands in the West, the list was dominated by Cartier, Rolls – Royce, and Tiffany; while in the East, Mercedes – Benz, Ferrari, and BMW were the list toppers. This is a clear indication of the most loved luxury brands differing from area to area and people’s preferences.

Of course, luxury is mostly for the wealthy but they focus more on doing their own thing, establishing who they are and the ones who relate to it come through. The rich are extremely influential and so if just a few of the richest validate a luxury brand, they’re almost instantly defined as luxurious.

WHAT THE BIGGEST LUXURY BRANDS HAVE TAUGHT US

Chanel. The reason Chanel was named the most influential luxury brand on social media is that they knew how to use the tool while keeping their own identity intact. They retained exclusivity by only following its own sister brand on Instagram. They chose very specific influencers who could portray the brand’s aspirational and artsy lifestyle. And most importantly, they optimized on their video content by creating engaging contents like narrative feature films and behind the scenes videos that showcased its vision and history.

Louis Vuitton. By making Jaden Smith the face of the brand’s womenswear collection in 2016, they established that the brands must know their audience. It created an inclusive community for millennials who don’t restrict themselves to pre-conceived gender identity.

Swiss Watch. Millennials are socially and environmentally aware – which is what Swiss Watch tapped. Knowing that the younger generation is willing to pay more for sustainable and environmentally friendly products, Blancpain built durable watches while also vowing to clean up the planet’s oceans. The limited edition version of the watch promised that the proceedings of the sales would go to charity, making a social contribution and making customers feel like they’re a part of something that matters.

STRATEGIZE TO DELIVER

Harnessing the Power of Online Presence – Given that the younger generation will soon dominate the customer market, it’s obvious that purchases are made online. Engaging contents on social media and online channels will not only provide visibility but also will help interact with customers more and gain their trust.

What Customers Want – The most important thing in this transition period is to know who your customers are and being aware of what they want. Be it service or sustainability, the customers of today’s world will only come to you if they can relate to you.

Know Who You Are – While appealing to new customers, it’s important to remember your own brand and where you come from. Nothing beats authenticity and so it’s essential to not lose the brand’s history, heritage and identity while taking a new approach to spreading it.

The view of luxury has gone from economic exclusivity and essential superiority to intangible exclusivity and a sense of belonging. The consumers of the world are leaning towards a younger generation who believe in individuality, sustainability, experiences & values – who are influenced by social media. And so, making a splash as a luxury brand in this time is about not only setting foot in the transition but also diving deep into it and committing to the change.

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