Has luxury become more attainable, or is it distilled down across so many products that it has lost its exclusivity?
The questions asked most often of me are, “What is luxury?” or “What does luxury mean?” I will provide my answers to these questions a little later. I know that many people feel the term luxury is over used, as well as many people believe the terms ‘premium’, ‘preferred’, and ‘ultra’ are also over used. So, what is happening with the proliferation and positioning of products in all facades of everyday use from diapers, to detergent, to water that are being designated ‘luxuries.’
Brands are attempting to position luxuries to meet the needs of people who look at products as an expression of individuality. The actual possessions or ‘things’ seem less important versus the personal satisfaction that using the product brings to the consumer. Therefore, is luxury an over used term, or a term that provides an opportunity for products to differentiate themselves. Information has made the selection process more complex as we are bombarded by advertisements that try to differentiate their product from other like products. Consumers inherently try to make themselves feel better either consciously or subconsciously, and product marketing attempts to stay in touch with those feelings.
In the past, luxury held more of a financial definition as people placed a value on possessions and ‘things’. The term ‘The Ultra Rich’ signified those who were in a stratosphere that many may never have the opportunity to reach. People looked at what ‘The Ultra Rich’ possessed, and what they used, and they wanted to be like them. Luxury is defined in Princeton Wordnet as, “something that is an indulgence rather than a necessity,” and Wikipedia defines a luxury good as, “a good at the highest end of the market in terms of quality and price.”
The controlled mass marketing of products has moved to one-to-one marketing and social marketing, which may be bolstered by word-of-mouth, and are targeted to an individual. So, luxury items have grown-up, so to speak, within this new sense of individualism. Ownership of ‘things’ and financial possessions have given way to a sense of wellbeing and experiences. Thus ‘luxury’ has become attainable, and there has been a proliferation of products “at the highest end of the market in terms of quality and price” for us to select from.
Well, this is what you have been reading and waiting for, my definition of luxury. Luxury starts with two key components: “Luxury is innovation and customer service.” With innovation you are positioning your product to attract new customers as many products are so very similar in functionality, and with customer service, well, there is nothing that can differentiate a product more than excellent service. In addition, luxury is something that makes me feel special, and lastly luxury is an indulgence of products that are at the highest end of their market segment. So, for me, luxury is a combination of making me feel special, innovation, customer service, indulgence, and a product that I feel is exclusive.