Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Branding Luxury

"Affordable luxury as a category is maturing," said Guy Salter, deputy chairman of Walpole, the association that represents British luxury goods firms. Since our recent economic downturn, consumers have redefined luxury. More than ever, masstige is the new mass. What was mass now now perceived as cheap and untouchable to savvy and discerning consumers. In this organic adjustment, luxury has lower its bar to affortable luxury. I am delighted to say, with strategic adjustments, most luxury brands are now [still] doing quite well.

Miles Socha's recent article in the WWD, DEFINING THE NEW LUXURY, is an interesting exploration of this evolution. More than ever, smart, consistent 360ยบ branding is critical to success:

Lucian James, founder of strategic consultancy Agenda Inc., based in New York and Paris, said luxury was not only impacted by the economic crisis, but a “crisis of meaning” as well.

“Consumers spent some time away from luxury products, and the spell was — to some extent — broken,” he explained. “The recession was a time when consumers really connected to discount and fast-fashion brands and found them surprisingly good.”

To win shoppers back in the postcrisis period, luxury brands “need to create more powerful messages, not just evoke aspirational lifestyles and expect consumers to be seduced….They need to explore ways that they can connect the brand to emerging consumer lifestyles and emerging consumer moods,” James said.

"The clientele for luxury today is less tied to income levels than to which brands consumers choose to adorn themselves with, counterfeit or otherwise. “People don’t reach up en masse to luxury brands. They go to the ones that are meaningful for them,” he said.