The shape of Luxury
Back in the ancient time, luxury or “luxe” – in French – was once a symbol to define social status, wealth and power of the dominance. Its accessibility was limited to only certain social class. Today, the meaning of luxury has been reshaped along with social development and improvement in the quality of life, which is strongly supported by technology.
The recession and digital revolution brought with them a new set of values and expectations. Luxury became less about buying branded items, more about the stories and experiences surrounding the brand. Where once the industry thrived on telling people what they needed to have, today’s brands are striving to understand and adapt to what their customer wants. The entire experience has constantly been elevated to match the even more discerning taste of the consumers. Rapidly globalized economies are creating a new breed of consumers with a much broader, multidimensional perspective on what quality and luxury can be.
Luxury is a feeling
It’s simply not enough to have a high price tag to denote a luxury item. Customers need to feel an emotional connection. In today’s marketing, luxury brands often strive to shift the definition of luxury from “having” to “being”. In fact, they enable their consumers to truly feel, understand and relate to the brands. This intangible connection is the shortest way to win brand loyalty.
Luxury is functional
Luxury goods and services often come with a premium price. Thus its functions are expected to be exceptional. It represents a high level of aesthetic of execution at all levels from creation, to manufacturing, materials, craftsmanship, service, experience and sensibility. The functionality of luxury has the strongest presence, especially in integrated technology. Many hotels are adding hi-tech items in guest rooms to add a little touch of convenience, elevating the luxury experience for guests.
Luxury is personal
Not only being exclusive, luxury also represents taste, style and personality. Luxury tells a story. It adds a fine touch on the way a consumer express their voice and belief. This is a reason many luxury brands aim to add more customisation to their products and services: tailor-made suits, personalised yoga course, private dining area, just to name a few.
Luxury is an experience
What differs the purchase of a luxury handbag to others? Why does that hotel gain so much love from its guests?
For long, luxury brands understand that superior product/service must be accompanied by exceptional customer experience. Luxury is about providing the privilege that cannot be found elsewhere. Here, it is not merely just about the quality of the product but the way it is delivered. Exclusive and personalised customer experience is the trademark that defines big players in the luxury hotel segment such as The Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons.
Another dimension when it comes to luxury experience is travelling. Travelling is luxury itself. The experience gained from each journey is worth more than any monetary value. A safari trip in Kenya, camping in the Sahara Desert, flying with hot air balloon in Turkey, swimming with sharks in the Philipines or watching the sunset in Santorini – these all are unique luxury travel experience.
Luxury is sustainable
The rising awareness of the consumer on the environment and other social issues has added another view to luxury. Where was it made, by whom and in what conditions? Today, ensuring more transparent supply chains and production cycles are becoming increasingly important worldwide. This shift in responsible consumption goes hand-in-hand with a heightened consciousness toward environmental sustainability, which is no longer an option for luxury brands.
Luxury is a concept that never stops evolving. It is a challenge for many luxury-oriented brands to reform, adapt and innovate the concept in a way that satisfy customer needs, as well as strengthening its identity.