In the heart of luxury brands
The phenomenon of luxury has always had a sociological basis of significant impact on our society. However, it is society that defines what luxury means to us!
Are you lost?
· Getting some perspective:
· Let's talk about this!
∘ PREMIUM AND LUXURY:
∘ So, what about the price, is it not a relevant indicator of luxury?
∘ LUXURY AND TECHNOLOGY:
∘ Agreed Jose, but is Apple a luxury brand or not?
· What we need to remember…
· Final recommendation:
Getting some perspective:
Human beings have undergone many phases in their development as a species, most notably the development of free trade between the components of different societies. We replaced inter-group violence with the exchange of goods, from bartering to the use of currency. This development as a trading species brought us to a point of singularity in the economy, we began to worry about the impact of accessories and garments on the rest of the individuals in society. From Phoenician craftsmen to Roman blacksmiths and on to Rolls Royce, Porsche, Patek Philippe, and Hermès, luxury has developed into more complex products but has maintained its foundations since its origins.
Let's talk about this!
First, we must understand that when the brand is not respected it will not enjoy any prestige and therefore no value will be perceived.
Contrary to what many people think, the main driver of luxury in societies was the democratization of products. Therefore, the democratization involves two vital events that explain its development:
- The fading of social castes (although many think that luxury is for the ultra-consumerist elites.): increased consumer spending power is the main driver for the development of the luxury sector.
- The growth of the customer base has increased due to globalization.
PREMIUM AND LUXURY:
Once we understand the origin of luxury and how it spread through our societies, it is essential to differentiate it from premium: luxury contains the essence of the culture where the product was created, but premium does not include this cultural value. Moreover, luxury brands should be produced in the place where they were born and not forget their origins (Mercedes decided to move out of the luxury segment and into premium car production) while premium products should seek to reduce costs and increase sales volume.
Luxury marketing is an anomaly to the laws of traditional marketing, it is governed on a different basis, whereas premium marketing shares the same ground as many mass-marketed products (finding problems in consumers and satisfying needs by adding higher quality).
So, what about the price, is it not a relevant indicator of luxury?
Well, it used to be, but not anymore because currently exist price zones in which premium and luxury brands overlap. Now you may see the difference better: consumers would pay more to have a robust, very functional, and well-finished Lexus car, but whoever buys a BMW is acquiring the essence of a historically respected brand. With all due respect to Lexus, they offer great cars but are soulless, unlike BMW.
LUXURY AND TECHNOLOGY:
This is the point that many of you have been waiting for… Technology!
Technology is complicated because it forces the brand to reinforce its identity after each product launch. Let’s look at how luxury relates to technology, using a fiction story:
- Let’s imagine we have car brand A, recognized for its creative origins, charismatic owner, and reliable and excellent performance.
- Now imagine brand B, which has exceptional engineers, exquisite designs, and finishes, but does not have a story that is known for generations, nor does it project an illusion to consumers.
- Brand A enjoys international prestige and therefore consumers will think that it is a much more reliable brand over time than brand B, but this does not necessarily have to be the case, because if brand A does not maintain its credibility model after model, it will lose their popularity, due to the well-known programmed obsolescence. On the other hand, Brand B will not have to deal with this problem because they have no substance to lose.
At this point, questions may be raised such as:
- So, does a luxury product always have to be expensive?
- Are all luxury products valuable?
- Could I create a luxury product or service myself?
- What if my customers don’t understand the product?
Well, all these questions could take several articles, but they can all be summarized in the fact that a luxury product goes beyond quality, it goes beyond the material; a product considered “luxurious”, is luxurious because it brings to the consumer a unique value (we could speak of psychological, even philosophical value) and a feeling of exclusivity and belonging to a story.
Agreed Jose, but is Apple a luxury brand or not?
Unfortunately for many Apple fans (myself included): no, Apple is not a luxury brand, it is a premium brand that recreates a very well-thought-out luxury strategy, as they contain:
- A creative and charismatic founder (Steve Jobs)
- Controlled distribution: the most important aspect of luxury prices
- A vision that has not been diverted
We could appreciate that a few years ago this strategy was much more noticeable, but today competition, technological advances, and innovations have shown that it is a strategy of upper-range segments.
But as we can see this practice is used in other sectors such as the fashion world. Lacoste is a clear example of a mid-range price strategy that uses luxury brand management, which is translated into successful annual results.
Special characteristics Lacoste has:
- Rene Lacoste who founded this company in 1933 gives the company the needed story.
- Is known for having the best Polo shirt quality
- Their boutiques are meticulously maintained which gives a sense of finesse and high quality.
What we need to remember…
As we have seen, luxury brands are not exquisite materials, super hidden, and private groups of rich people debating where they will spend their next million euros; it is a concept rooted in the development of trade and the end of violence between civilizations.
Luxury is not specific to cars, clocks, or jewelry, it is inherent in every single trade possible that can offer the value and uniqueness consumers need.
In case you want to gain more knowledge and go deep into this topic I would love to recommend you reading this book which is the bible of luxury brand knowledge.