The definition of luxury today has changed dramatically. Traditionally, it used to define the overpriced, elegant, rare and usually collectible item that was so lovely and hard to resist that, in fact, the price became part of the point. The luxury market offered that refinement of living that was more an indulgence than a necessity. It clearly highlighted the border between those select few who could afford and the many who couldn’t.
Nowadays, luxury brands have made the shift from upscale unattainability to mass availability. The veil of mystery surrounding the luxury market has never been more thin and transparent than in the global world of ecommerce platforms, outlet stores, and advanced technology.
The Luxury Market is the New Commodity Market
High Price Should Be High Value
We are not dealing in luxury apologetics here. There’s something gratifying and revolutionary about how technology and its faithful sidekick, social awareness, erode luxury.
But there’s a common misconception among consumers that a luxury brand is no more than a product of marketing to be advertised by the number 1 Vogue-pick celebrity of the moment.
Shoppers completely miss the value behind the brands’ quality and craftsmanship. No surprise here. Marketers who adjust their strategies to the needs of the world’s developing and developed economies alike sacrifice heavy investment into research and pioneering – the pillars of a first luxury item, to mass market demands that will turn in the biggest profit.
Number one rule in an aggressively competitive market? The biggest investments will follow the biggest potential for return.
Luxury came to mean unaffordable, rather than exclusive. It scores low in the most important high price points – heritage and value.
Newcomers to the luxury market want their top-end purchase to represent a badge of status. A high-priced Louis Vuitton bag -which, by the way, don’t carry the famous LV logo or a sapphire-coated Gucci belt become understated, devalued luxury brands.
Tech Development is Too Fast for Luxury Brands to Keep Up
While credited with being the great egalitarian force of the 21st century, technology is also the biggest threat to luxury.
Consider the tense relationship between luxury and personal electronics. The latest of the new gadgets built up their prices on a shaky claim to superiority. A $16,000 Solarin phone might receive the same reviews as a Chinese smartphone. However, the latter will only cost a fraction of the price.
Connectivity will continue to fuel new opportunities in tech innovation. Therefore, the digital world will never stop from reaching new frontiers. Still, that doesn’t prevent technology from being the very thing that strips its creation of a luxury status.
Technology moves so fast that a luxury item doesn’t even have time to become truly luxurious. It will lack precisely those qualities that make it be – scarcity, social exclusivity, permanence, and indivisibility.
You might be able to make a better deal by waiting for that thousand-dollar item you wanted to buy today to devalue to a few bucks tomorrow.