Art & Culture Business

What is the Definition of Luxury: Blurred lines between the ordinary and the exclusive

29 June 2020

Quintessentially co-founder Aaron Simpson recently discussed the blurred lines between the ordinary and exclusive with Resident magazine.

The discussion as to 'where luxury is heading' is almost a daily occurrence at Quintessentially. We need to be at the forefront of the industry, and know exactly how to cater to luxury consumers in a relevant way, and it's a constant challenge. In the past we've talked about how consumers are changing and why, but for a number of reasons, we are also seeing significant changes to the way luxury brands are perceived, and how the meaning of luxury is being affected by other external factors.

Some of the most important aspects of luxury have traditionally been exclusivity, rarity, quality and elevation above the ordinary. But times are changing – luxury consumerism is becoming more democratic, and the erstwhile inaccessible is becoming increasingly accessible. Something being expensive and rare isn't as much of a priority, and definitely isn't enough to keep a brand growing. The pressure is really on for luxury brands to roll with the tides, retaining their intrinsic mystique, whilst also appealing to new definitions of luxury and a whole new pool of buyers.

The global elite are some of the most discerning people in the world. They rely on us to source the best of everything, whether that's a beautiful handmade Italian leather bag, a rare Patek Phillipe watch or a penthouse suite in a leading hotel. But this level of discernment has now spread exponentially. With the growth of social media and internet, everyone is now in a position to engage with and be a part of these brands. There are far more aspirational and astute buyers, who expect things immediately and who want to engage directly with brands.

As a result, on the one hand, luxury brands are opening themselves up to a much wider pool of people, and on the other, mid-level brands are adopting elevated tactics to appeal to more discerning customers. In contrast to past times when fashion shows were for a small and select group of people, brands are now live streaming their shows to everyone in the world. High-street brands are marketing themselves in similar ways to their luxury counterparts, and so the distinction between ordinary and exclusive is blurred.

It will be interesting to see how luxury brands are going to deal with this and how they will convert a larger social media following into sales. We have seen that craftsmanship and education about the product itself and its craft are also becoming increasingly important to buyers. It is no longer enough to own a super car, our clients want to see where their car is made, speak to those that have had an input in its construction, and see it roll off the factory floor. A personal touch is essential on every level, both for the everyman and luxury brands, and it will be fascinating to see how marketing tactics evolve to satisfy these ever-changing demands.

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