Here are the conventional definitions. They are pre-Covid but they still ring true:
Price: The brand offers products which belong to the most expensive products of their category.
Quality: The brand offers everlasting top-of-the-line products.
Aesthetics: Whenever and wherever the brand is seen, it embodies a world of beauty and elegance.
Rarity: In contrast to mass-market brands, the brand limits its production. It is not available at all times or all places.
Extraordinariness: The brand has a personality and style of its own and its products offer surprise with an "expected unexpected."
Symbolism: The brand stands for "the best " - regardless of whether it is a conspicuous or understated item, it is deeply proud if its heritage, story, craftsmanship and provenance.
Rolex - time means money
But there are other takes on the subject.
Not the usual self-worth, narcissism, brag value, virtue signalling, wealth reassurance stuff we all know.
We have seen enough of Maslow luxury brand presentations to last a lifetime.
Here are three interesting thoughts culled from the School of Life:
1. The fear of being average
Why does luxury exist?
The first is fear; fear of most other people. Luxury does well in places where for some it can feel very dangerous to be average, like C18th France or contemporary India or China. It isn’t coincidental that the love of luxury has been particularly in evidence in societies where the average existence is a hard, painful place to be.
It may be easy for us to dismiss as ‘superfluous’ the layers of gold, the cherubs, the diamonds and sculpted reliefs; but these can seem like very necessary tokens of separation between the owner and a genuinely hard world beyond.
They are forms of protection against the terror of an average life, in societies where average can mean extremely tough.
2. Some places don’t take to luxury so well.
Some countries don’t want or need luxury so much. Rolex and Louis Vuitton, Prada and Aston Martin have done badly in Denmark, a country which boasts the third highest level per capita income in the world and one of the most equal distributions of wealth anywhere.
The Danish case illustrates one large possible solution to the social problem of luxury. The desire for luxury is inversely related to the level of dignity of an average life; as dignity goes up, so the desire for luxury comes down. It was never really about greed, the love of luxury was an individual response to a political failure: the inability of governments to ensure that an average life could be a flourishing life.
An Aston Martin. Goes quite fast
3. Where does luxury come from?
“In its origins, luxury was not a term to describe consumption by elites, but one used to denigrate the consumer practices of newly emerging wealthy classes,” writes historian Catherine Kovesi, of luxury in ancient Rome.
“It was the Italians who were the first to revive the ancient use of luxury as a term of denigration for the aspirational consumption of non-elites, and it was also the Italians who were the first to invent a new word in the vernacular to describe this consumption—lusso, or luxury.”
Well, now’s the time to think about lusso.
Post-Covid we will see imagination, flair, courage and innovation. Luxury has survived wars, famine and disaster. It won’t disappear.
Anew are brand development and marketing specialists for ambitious businesses of excellence. We help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution. We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality and craft.
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