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The Luxury Conundrum: Addressing Exclusivity in the Age of Inclusivity

Photographer caption: Jonna Fransa @jonna_fransa

What is luxury today? While it used to be signified by expensive watches, thousand pound bags, and a yacht in St. Tropez, it’s actually not so narrowly defined anymore. For consumers now, who are short on time, constantly connected to their digital devices, and able to discover remote places around the globe through Instagram, luxury means so much more. Now it’s a luxury to travel far and wide, to digitally disconnected for the weekend, to spend less on a watch or bag, and more on experiences. And, this shift in consumer mindset has led to the growth of mid market brands, especially in the leather goods industry, start-up brands like Mansur Gavriel with their mid-market luxury buckets bags have seen exponential growth.

As accessible luxury is touted as the market segment with future growth potential, and technology is enabling the democratisation of nearly everything, are we seeing an end to the notion of exclusive luxury?

In our new white paper, “Future-proofing your brand”, we surveyed 100 fashion leaders in the US and UK, looking into the successes and challenges of the luxury market. A key takeaway from these results was the need for businesses to shift to meet the changing perceptions of luxury and adapt messaging to suit the aspirations of future consumers.

So, how can businesses remind consumers about the magic of luxury goods, and how special these exclusive goods can make you feel? We explore two ideas below. For more in-depth analysis and advice download our white paper below.

See social media as a friend not foe.

Thanks to their phones, consumers are better informed than ever before. And while traditionally luxury brands have been slow to embrace social, it’s actually an incredibly powerful tool for storytelling, engaging with their community and connecting with potential customers. According to The Millennial State of Mind, a study from Bain & Company and Farfetch released earlier this year, 70% of luxury purchases are influenced by online interactions.

Not deterred by lack of physical store to create a sense of exclusivity, Matches Fashion uses its site and social platforms to highlight exclusive digital trunk shows and collaborations, promoting the collections stories through videos and posts on Instagram. It also creates special capsule collections and teams up with fashion insiders to get their curated luxury edits, all of which are promoted through social media.

 

Shared Ideologies and Values. 

The correlation between social media and luxury purchases also reflects the opportunity to create a community. Key here is the need for a shared purpose or ideology among a brand and its customers, which goes beyond product and instills a belief in the brand that reflects consumer (and employee) values.

Sustainability and cruelty-free products are valued by many consumers, and Gucci’s recent announcement about going fur-free shows that it understands this core value. Burberry has also been making inroads with sustainability, receiving recognition through the Dow Jones Sustainability world index. Emma Watson was photographed on the red carpet of her film premiere earlier this year wearing a Burberry organic silk dress, detailing its origins through an Instagram post.

Emma Watson by Burberry

Future-proofing your brand 

Today, businesses need to meet the changing perceptions of luxury and adapt messaging to suit the aspirations of future consumers. Get our teams recommendations on everything from luxury value to planning for the rise of AI here.

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.

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