The Transformation of Luxury Brand Marketing

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by: Idris Mootee

There are many good postings to share:

André Galhardo: As “Jacques Lacan pointed out, human-beings need to learn how
and what to desire. ‘Desire is the Desire of the
.’ It is on the basis of this fundamental understanding of identity
that Lacan maintained throughout his career that desire is the desire of the
Other. What is meant by him in this formulation is not the triviality that
humans desire others, when they sexually desire (an observation which is not
universally true).

Flavio Azevedo: “What constitutes luxury becomes a wholly individual and
emotional decision.” Clearly the rules of luxury are not set exclusively
by a few educated minds anymore. Experience is luxury. Silence is luxury. To
some, not mentioning the word luxury is luxury. Very
. Not so engineer-friendly.

Bart Suichies: Luxury comes from exclusivity. Individualism equals exclusivity. So
by definition, every time a brand gives room to consumers to express their individualism, it becomes an exclusive, luxurious
good. This will lead to a future of consumers using their self-expression to
get the luxury into pretty much any brand in their brandsphere.

Christian Briggs: If this is the case, then the current weak version of experience
co-creation (which is still more like mass configuration at this point, despite
its own protestations to the contrary) may give way to what I have been calling
deep co-creation,” in which
customers not only co-create the experience and some of the value, but the
business itself (and, by extension the brand). And they will of course do this
as a large, interconnected community. So in this changed world, a big part of
people’s meaning might come from co-creating a business and seeing it thrive.

Thanks everyone for these are great insights.
So we all agreed that the very idea of ‘luxury” has changed. What
you buy is more important than what you earn. Luxury is not a goal anymore. For
many, it has become a necessity, part of our daily experiences. Although the
purchases are the same, motivations are different. While consumers are
always eager to rationalize their luxury purchases, today they do so based on
different value systems. Today’s luxury drivers are rooted much more firmly in
personal well-being and self-satisfaction while purchases such as jewelry,
watches and handbags continue to satisfy the desire and to indulge one-self and
one’s loved ones.

Here are some further insights into luxury
goods purchase behavior:

Real vs. Imaginary– Consumption
sometimes operates at a level of the imaginary, but it also has real effects in
facilitating the construction of self-identity. While luxury shoppers are led
by rational desire to purchase items of high value and craftsmanship, eight of
the ten top purchase motivators are emotionally driven. Marketers must
tap into consumers’ desires for well-being, self-concept and indulgence. The
consumption of symbolic meaning, reinforced through advertising, provides the
individual with the opportunity to construct, maintain and communicate identity
and social meanings. Victoria Secrets is a great example of a marketer using
the unobtainable, imaginary dreams of its consumers to drive sales. Beautiful
and perfectly proportioned models strut down the runway and grace glitzy
catalog pages to convey the notion that the company’s products can enhance–or
even instill such glamour. If Victoria’s Secret products are worn by the
beautiful, does the inverse also hold true? Will wearing them make one beautiful?
Women scoop up the product for themselves and dazzling elegance will rub off
the wearer. Ask this important question: What are your key target segments’
wildest imaginations?

Material vs. the Symbolic After a product fulfills its
ability to satisfy a physical need, we enter the realm of the symbolic, and it
is symbolic meaning that is used in the search for the meaning of existence. We
become consumers of “illusions”. De Beers’ slogan “A diamond is
forever” has been so successful in creating the illusion of “love and
eternity” that a diamond is the material symbol of love and marriage. For
many, the gift of a diamond symbolizes eternal love, which in itself is an
elusive concept (ok not all agree). Now marketers are trying to do the same
with platinum. Ask this question: What illusions does your product help
consumers to create or maintain?

Social vs. the Self – The function of symbolic
meanings of products operate in two directions, outward in constructing the
social world–social-symbolism–and inward towards constructing our
self-identity: self-symbolism. In other words, using products to help us become
our “Possible Selves”. Most SUVs and sports equipment brand images
are built on this very concept. SUVs have an image of being sporty, powerful,
tough and rugged. They appeal to men (and some women) who may not travel
anywhere more treacherous than the local supermarket. The Hummer sold to
civilians is radically different from the one used by the military, yet the
brand’s image, as an enduring, robust all-terrain vehicle remains intact. 
Expensive and “cool”, SUVs are popular yet practical–they hold a
carpool full of kids and their hockey equipment–without saddling their upscale
owners with a “minivan” image. Ask this question: What are your
target luxury segments’ ideal possible selves?

Marketing of luxury
goods is in the middle of a transformation
. The individual
must experience consumption as part of the journey towards personal
development, achievement and self-creation. They are content to map their lives
on a marketer’s segmentation chart. Marketing of luxury goods is evolving away
from a top-down approach towards one that provides or facilitates innovations
for new ideas and meanings- empowered by Web 2.0. The co-creation of brand
meanings through social networks and virtual interactions has become the basis
for value. This, in fact, challenges the convention view of product-centric

Some examples include a social networking site
targeting affluent consumers under 35 years old launched a weeks ago., is a members-only site offering internet
protocol TV and a focus on luxury. The company behind the start-up, Square
Media Ventures, which describes itself as a Web 2.0 internet broadcaster, says “aims to bridge the online gap in the luxury sector and the affluent
18 – 35-year-old professionals market”. The founders Olivier Bassil and
Jeremy Genin say that the site will “move one step beyond the MySpace and
YouTube generation” and will go up against other select sites, such as aSmallWorld. Bassil adds: “Leveraging social
networks is a powerful sales and marketing tool. We want to help luxury brands
increase their awareness among an engaged and highly influential
audience.” They allow members to create their own online TV channels and
showcase their lifestyles with like-minded individuals with user-generated and
professional video content. See you guys there in your Dolce Gabana purple

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