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Dec 8, 2014
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Luxury facing identity crisis?

Dec 8, 2014

Is the luxury sector facing an identity crisis? Probably yes, if it doesn’t adapt its marketing approach. In a report with the provocative title, "What is luxury today? Caviar or a day without meetings?” advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi invites large brands to step down from their pedestals and take a look at the strategies of premium brands. 

"In general, brands draw inspiration from the world of luxury to make themselves more attractive. We think, on the contrary, that this logic should be inverted. Luxury has a great deal to learn from premium and even accessible brands, which, through the Internet, have managed to create a daily and ongoing relationship with their customers," said Giuseppe Caiazza, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi France and Italy. 

"It’s no coincidence that more and more fashion houses are now relying on executives who come from more affordable brands.”

The haughty Cartier panther...

"Luxury could face an identity crisis in the near future because the pyramid is becoming less and less hierarchical. At the top are still the most expensive brands, only accessible to the few, but at the center, the amount of well-off people able to by these goods has significantly increased. We’re seeing a democratization of luxury, where the approach should no longer be vertical, but horizontal. The power has shifted to consumers," said Jane Cantellow, global planning director of Saatchi & Saatchi. 

The question is how the luxury industry can use this information to also speak to this new clientele, which is completely capable of affording its products. Saatchi & Saatchi has found the solution: simply overturn the five logical "myths” that have governed the rules of the game so far. 

First, luxury brands should learn to be less exclusive by showing that they are able to include more consumers in their world. “Brands should cast off their elitist image, whereby the protagonist isn’t the consumer, but an outdated, far off ’caviar-filled’ kind of world. According to conversations we’ve had with people, consumers want to be given more consideration. Luxury should be more human, taking into account what it takes to be attractive to clients," said the researcher. 

"Luxury, which etymologically means excess, now corresponds more to the notion of pleasure, which transcends price and geographical barriers." she continued.

...versus Trussardi's hip greyhound

Second, luxury brands have to move on from the highly celebrated notion of tradition, at the risk of being redundant and dull and by ending up looking all the same, to the idea of innovation, a synonym of change and openness to a future world that is constantly evolving. “Technology is becoming the new luxury," said Cantellow. 

Third: brands should move from the concept of the "one-off", the idea of unique pieces produced in limited edition, to the concept of "one-to-one”—that is to say, product customization based on individual consumer desires, opening up to the concept of the consumer-designer. 

Fourth: Saatchi & Saatchi suggests that brands should "stop talking only about themselves” and instead create genuine connections with others, through a transparent and intimate relationship with the consumer. "The weakness of luxury brands is often due to their refusal to open up to the outside world.”

Finally, the fifth and final point: “less serious, but funnier and more entertaining." “Big brands are hanging onto a solemn kind of attitude, remaining a bit stiff in the way they present themselves through their prestigious and sophisticated products. But the real luxury today is having time to relax, to be able to do what you want with your time. With this in mind, more than anything the luxury market has to learn to recognize the needs of its customers, by allowing them to have fun and enjoy life. This is the new ethics of luxury,” concludes Cantellow.

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