The consumer definition of luxury has shifted massively in the last ten years. The consumer’s longing for fast cars and 5* hotels to prove his status has now been replaced by his desire for self improvement. In fact, the consumer now sees himself as the new luxury item. We look into some of the findings from recent study “Konsumgenerationen 2018” by INLUX / Keylens Management Consultants and discuss key takeaways for brand marketing.
As part of the study, 750 people were asked: “What is your personal interpretation of luxury?”
Health and time as the new consumer luxuries
With an average 80- 81% people across the age groups in agreement, health and time is perceived to be the major new luxury in our lives. As life expectancy and awareness of ill-health grows, and dual income families become the norm, people are looking for new ways to remain healthy and ensure they have time for the important things in life, like family, friends and time for themselves. This has led to huge recent developments in the healthy eating industry, from superfoods through to the clean- and slow-eating movements, and in travel and leisure.
Marketing example: Californian bus company York Region Transit celebrates “Me time”
Americans love their cars above all else, but do they now love me time more? York Region Transit decided to put me time front and centre of their campaign, celebrating that when you travel on the bus you have the opportunity to relax and enjoy doing things you may not otherwise have time for, such as listening to music, reading, preparing for work, or taking a nap. Circulation of out-of-home ads reached over 20 million throughout the campaign, and there were 370k unique Facebook impressions over 8 weeks.
Self-improvement over immaterialism as new consumer luxury
That consumers opt for immaterial luxuries (such as experiences) over material luxuries is one of the major consumption trends of the recent past. However, the findings of this study suggest that, rather than choosing simply immaterial luxuries, consumers are moving ever more in the direction of self-improvement. And while a large number from each generational group agreed with this statement, one generation in particular perceived self-improvement a luxury above all others: those 70 years and older. This might be in further education, digital savvyness, sport, wellness or culture.
Marketing example: Nike’s Find your Greatness Campaign
Nike’s campaign says it is ok to better yourself in small steps. The implication is of course that Nike products are there to help us to achieve our goals. The sportswear company worked out that while people love branded sneakers a lot, they value self-improvement much more.
The consumer decides when and how to integrate luxury
As part of the study, 73% of respondents agreed with the statement: “I choose luxury items in areas of my life that are important to me. In others, I go for cheaper options.” Traditional luxury goods therefore still have their place – from 6th place onwards people still rank goods such as high-value technology, owning own (large) home and luxury holidays as luxurious (although cars and spa and wellness come in last place). People are increasingly curating their luxuries, indeed 59% of respondents agreed with the statement: “Luxury products have to suit me and must underline my personality.” As example, people might choose to rent a cheap apartment, while spending their money on an expensive coffee machine, flower subscription and membership of expensive gym.
Marketing example: Tiffany & Co’s Engagement Ring Finder Mobile App
Tiffany & Co recognized that despite its high prices, the “masses” were still willing to buy a once-in-a-lifetime Tiffany piece like an engagement ring. The jeweler developed an augmented reality app which allowed people to try on a ring without even entering a store. They did not worry about this affecting the exclusivity of the brand, rather the app made Tiffany a reality for many more people who might not belong to the brand’s typical high-end consumer base.
Marketing implications for growing brands:
# Highlight how your brand contributes to good health and saves the consumer time in marketing activity: these elements as luxuries open up huge opportunities for brands from all sectors, from food and cosmetics to tourism and lifestyle.
# Products and services should be aiming to generate intrinsic, meaningful moments and values for their customers which support the individual on his quest for self-improvement. This is particularly relevant if you are targeting the older age groups.
# Luxury per se is no longer desirable as an absolute goal, but serves to fulfill individual needs. An increasingly mature consumer wants to be recognized and addressed as an individual.
# A radical rethink is needed in the branding and marketing of luxury goods: luxury increasingly means a consumer’s own self-fulfillment rather than the projection / definition of his own status using luxury brand images.
Read the full study here.