Old Luxe and New Luxe

By Christopher Zoukis

Why do affluent customers buy luxury items such as perfume, jewelry, and cars?

Because of the way the products make them feel, and the way they perceive other people will feel about them for having the product. This feeling is exclusivity. It is not about functionality per se, although functionality is part of the feeling of exclusivity. It is not about price and quality per se, although both price and quality also add to the feeling. It is about exclusivity.   Image courtesy fantasymomentsworld.info

Exclusivity commands admiration, respect and the acknowledgement of others when they notice the luxury product. This idea of exclusivity requires that marketing campaigns be carefully planned. Why? According to Simon Black, a director at Design Bridge, luxury has different meanings to different people. Black suggests there are at least two different views of luxury among the wealthy. He calls them New Luxe and Old Luxe. The New Luxe group desires exclusivity that is showy and status-driven. Old Luxers seek exclusivity through traditional luxury, and like to present themselves as “too posh to care.”

The marketing of luxury products to one group runs the risk of alienating the other group. For example, the Old Luxers eschew brands they once purchased because these brands are being purchased by the New Luxers. This means that marketing has to walk between a rock and a hard place. Marketing has to present luxury products as exclusive enough to appeal to the Old Luxers, while at the same time being showy enough to appeal to the New Luxers. Black cites Burberry as an example of a company that is appealing to both groups successfully. Burberry positions its famous logo less conspicuously. This is an attempt to portray itself as more traditional and less showy. Additionally, the company offers a super-premium brand, called Burberry Prorsum, to maintain its super-exclusive image.

According to Brand Republic, which is an advertising, marketing, media and PR firm catering to luxury brands, luxury brands can enhance their exclusivity factor through “mythology.” Mythology is a luxury ingredient created by means of craftsmanship, PR, marketing and chic symbols. When combined, these ingredients coalesce to form exclusivity.

For example, when Nokia, which was the world’s largest maker of cell phones, decided to offer an exclusive line of cell phones, they realized they had no mythology. So Nokia hooked up with two brands that already had mythology, Ferrari and Boucheron.

Another way to market exclusivity is to offer limited-edition luxury products. One website that does so is 20ltd, which markets and sells super-exclusive products online. However, Tom Savigar, marketing director at The Future Laboratory, thinks that selling exclusivity online is self-defeating. “The ability to sit in your dressing gown and buy Chanel online is democratising the entry point to luxury,” says Savigar. He contends that exclusivity is an experience that is felt as much as purchased. The experience cannot be found on a website. Thus, democratising diminishes the idea of exclusivity. Only time will tell if this is true or not, because luxury buyers are becoming more and more comfortable with the ease of online shopping.

As far as luxury accessories are concerned, Brand Republic divides customers into “tribes.” Each tribe wants greater exclusivity for a variety of reasons.

The Hat Tribe. Affluent customers in this tribe desire conspicuous display. Hats must be plain as day, extravagant, and demonstrate the status of exclusivity.

The Watch Tribe. Members of this tribe desire cautious display. Onlookers who are in-the-know will see them and know they are exclusive.

The Wallet Tribe. Understated display is desired by this group of affluent customers. They are “too posh to care” about overt displays of exclusivity. However, they want to feel exclusive.

The Wrist Band Tribe. This tribe desires an overt display of exclusivity and the status it carries. Bracelets, necklaces, and wrist bands must be evident at all times, so that others will know the wearers are part of an exclusive group.