The interpretation of Luxury

What does luxury mean? It depends who you ask, of course, as well as whether someone is browsing or buying, making regular or rare purchases, and whether they’re looking online or offline.

The answer to that crucial catch-all question varies widely by generation. Doubtless the most interesting is the youngest Millennials (between 23 and 36 years old) and Generation K (between 18 and 22 years old) consider luxury to be something very different what older generations think it is. In our luxury survey we included some examples to help the respondents, asking: How often do you buy luxury goods? By luxury we mean high-end brands producing apparel, footwear, accessories, leather goods, jewellery, timepieces e.g. Prada, Burberry, Hermes, Valentino, Rolex, etc

But when we left the respondents free to name their favourite luxury brands we found some surprises. They cited a number of unconventional luxury brands such as Nike (3.1%), Apple (1.4%) and adidas (0.7%).

 
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These may seem like small percentages, but it is indicative of how the concept of luxury is getting blurry. For instance can we still consider Louis Vuitton’s creations made  in collaboration with the Streetwear brand Supreme as luxury? We asked questions like this to our friend Peppe who works as Knitwear and Jersey Designer for Vivienne Westwood - and therefore knows what he is talking about. Peppe features in our report:

“People like the brands with heritage which are able to reinvent themselves, see Louis Vuitton and Jeff Koons’ collaboration on a limited collection of bags with paintings of artists. The fact that celebrities publicise products or mainstream brands and collaborate with luxury brands helps the latter to be known by a younger and wider audience.

Take, for instance, the collaboration between H&M and brands such as Margiela or Karl Lagerfeld, or Lady Gaga wearing the Vivienne Westwood T-shirt ‘Climate Revolution’ then its sales increased.  When Prada sponsored ‘Luna Rossa’ and rebranded itself for the occasion, the world got to know Prada. Madonna helped to launch Gucci when Tom Ford was the Creative Director, and when at the 1995 MTV awards someone at the press conference asked her what she was wearing, she yelled: ‘Gucci, Gucci, Gucci’, and people started to go to Gucci’s fashion shows.”

In light of this, when it comes to profiling those who buy luxury products, the generational divide assumes a very important dimension because it shifts the meaning of luxury at its core. Brands need to take this into account and provide different generations of consumers with different experiences of luxury, and what this means in terms of exclusivity and products, as our report explains.


TAKEWAY:

  • The profile of luxury buyers is directly connected to their interpretation of what a luxury product is.

Want to learn more about this? Download the full report.