Luxury Brand Management is sometimes like weather forecasting. With the media and fashion industry in full tilt this autumn, there is wave upon wave of adverts, campaigns, and promotions. Within the glitzy magazines and online videos geared to seduce, consumers and even those within the industry have a difficult time distinguishing luxury from premium brands.
Price is not the only determinant. Add the crossover product strategies between the 2 types of brands and there is more confusion still. Luxury enthusiasts are always looking for the “best”. The problem arises on what this term really means if it means anything at all. Most studies indicate that the term “luxury” is highly subjective.
For this reason, I have decided to try to clarify this important topic and booming business sector.
Take for example the terms, “premium”, “luxury” and “fashion”. Is it possible to define and portray these ethereal ideas in concrete terms? Marketing hype blurs the lines, and of course, this is intentional only adding to the misinformation among diverse constituent audiences.
Definitions of “luxury” vary enormously and depend on with whom you discuss the topic and in what context. The term “Luxury” has never been something easy to define. It is relative, mysterious and elusive. In essence, it revolves around subjective criteria in the mind, which creates a mood and what is generally referred to today as lifestyle.
Gary Harwood at HKLM, one of the founders and directors of a leading strategic branding and communication design consultancy, stated:
“A luxury brand is very expensive, exclusive and very rare – not meant for everyone. When it ceases to be these things, then it’s lost its exclusive cachet. Commoditizing luxury brands and making them more accessible to the middle market puts them at risk of becoming ordinary, common and less desirable. And the more available a brand is, the less luxurious it becomes.”
Authentic luxury brands compete on the basis of their ability to invoke exclusivity, prestige and hedonism to their appropriate market segments not the masses. There is a classic litmus test:
Is the product manufactured in artificially limited quantities? (i.e. the rarity factor)
Does the firm have a story to tell? (i.e. history & pedigree)
Is the firm portraying a unique lifestyle?
Is craftsmanship the hallmark, which delivers products that only High Net Worth individuals (HNWI/UHNWI) can purchase without question?
Does the brand offer authenticity?
When you see this dress what does it stand for?
Would you think it’s affordable, premium or luxury?
Luxury is not premium – and premium is not luxury. They are two dissimilar categories catering to different market segments.
A luxury brand is more about prestige and appearance – it’s about pedigree and social stratification. As objects of desire, they stand out as aspirational to all but a few souls. These crucial elements keep these products exclusive on purpose. Premium, on the other hand, stands for performance, value added, state-of-the-art, craftsmanship, and timeless design.
Certain brands deliberately generate this confusion, while others can’t figure out the messages they want to send to potential clients themselves. Obviously, the wealthy know the difference. Perhaps now, so will you
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