Jun 17, 2009
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Marketing of luxury items in question

Jun 17, 2009

For those that did not know it yet, the economic crisis spares no-one. Not even the luxury sector. Actors in the sector know it and are coming up with new marketing line-ups. The ink is still wet, but the beginning of a response can be seen in the latest publication from Luxury Club Ifod–Adetem: ostentation is out, emotion in.

So, is bling-bling finished? In its luxury version, yes. That is what was seemingly said by Marie-Claude Sicard, expert in brand strategy, Giles Lipovetsky, philosopher and sociologer of luxury and Alain Nemarq, president of Mauboussin. The trend has already been observed in the United States where some brands have started "masking" - their shopping bags carrying no logos or recognizable signs.

Alain Nemarq testified for his part of the “decline of the trophy purchase, badge, sign of power”. He added that the crisis has brought about a decrease in ostentatious consumption, where the act of purchasing betrayed social stature, and that behavior was starting to evolve. Women revolutionized the buying of jewelry, according to the jeweler. Previously offered by the man, it has become a “pleasure-purchase” thanks to women who have taken “their jewelry destiny in hand”.

For the majority of luxury markets, in Europe as in Japan or in Russia, experts have concluded that luxury is “moving toward the essential”. In the middle of a crisis, where inequalities are becoming more clear cut, conspicuous consumption seems now more than ever to be seen as “scandalous”.

Elements of responses have been sketched out. For one part, a profound change had started to emerge before the crisis. Following the example of jewelry, the other branches of the luxury sector have been seen to emerge with new values; the creativity of luxury brands in first place. It is still the spearhead of the houses and ensures their survival. But also, the return to traditional know-how, to the well-made and to the finished product. The crisis seems to have accelerated the process rather than altered the trajectory.

Multiple general trends have therefore been freed. On the one hand, a dematerialization of luxury. The client is attaching his or her self less to an object itself than the experience they draw from it. Spas, trips and personal services have the wind in their sails and, at this time of incertitude, people are not hesitating to pay the price for comfort. Comfort which is also taken from the respect of others with such generosity. This clears the way for the third trend, “generosity is written in the genetic code of luxury brands,” Giles Lipovetsky later said, continuing to state that in “offering a bit of luxury, of pleasure to a larger number, to those who do not make up part of the social elite, luxury is inserting itself into city life”. Is that to say that luxury could become an instrument of the redistribution of wealth? Not for certain…

Mauboussin brings another response: dreams and emotion at a “fair” price, operational events open to all. Whereas certain people see this as a vulgarization of the sector, the jeweler’s president insists: the client must be reassured. Starting with the price, he announced. Following this lots of “warnings” were given to the brand. A unanimous opinion, the relationship with the client is at the heart of consumption and the client must be put at rest regarding the quality, the durability of products, that deadlines will be met and even the authenticity of items.

Against all odds, experts have noted the decreasing quality of service and welcome in luxury boutiques, a degradation which started well before the current economic crisis. For Marie-Claude Sicard, brands should “have consistency at all levels”, where it comes to staff training.

By Jonathan Fulwell (Source: E-A Fabrizi)

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