the greatest challenges for luxury brands

The Greatest Challenges For Luxury Brands

The first greatest challenge for any luxury brand is trying to define the term ‘Luxury.’ The word itself – Luxury - is being used and abused so much that it seems to be losing its real meaning. However, a clear understanding of the true meaning of the term ‘Luxury’ is very important for products and brands to position themselves in the market. It is important for true luxury brands to carve an identity and make themselves distinctly different from other brands such as the premium and the fast fashion brands. This positioning of a brand as a ‘real luxury brand’ is important if the brand identity and brand values are to be established and maintained.

Going forward, luxury brands are able to sustain growth and retain market share only when they offer ubiquitous products that do not compromise on uniqueness. The key lies in catering to the masses while, at the same time, nurturing craftsmanship and brand values.

 

The Rise of the Online Shopper

The Internet, over the past decade, has become the most influential medium for customers. Moreover, these customers actively discuss various brands in social media circles and forums. In addition to this, there are a number of luxury brands that are being promoted by various third-party sources. So, luxury brands need to find a place for themselves in the online world if they have to stay relevant. A strong online presence for luxury brands will, undoubtedly, allow them to gain access to various customer groups; it also helps them become part of a world where new sources of revenue are constantly generated. However, the very essence of the Internet is pervasiveness, making it very difficult for a luxury brand to carve a niche space for itself. Moreover, the Internet is, in general, full of counterfeit products, fake imitations and more – where a single search for a luxury brand will throw up a number of look-alike products and fake rip-offs. Luxury brands have to offer premium products at premium prices, restrict distribution, translate brand aesthetics into their website, create online-offline interactions, bring a human face to their online persona and invite customer participation.

 

Dynamic Market Approach

The market is ever-changing, and to cater to this dynamic nature of the market, luxury brands have to understand the unique interplay of various market characteristics. With cultural, financial, political, media and communication elements being distinctly different from one market to the other, luxury brands have to consider a different dynamic market approach. They have to know whether they can take a country or market model and use it as a standard of approach for other countries or markets. Typically, luxury brands do not have the luxury of replicating market strategies – they have to adapt different strategies while targeting different markets.

 

Understanding Today's Luxury Customer

Traditionally, luxury products were designed and created only for the select few; the elite; the affluent. However, luxury, today, is not reserved for the rich and the elite – a new era has dawned where wealth and income are not the only criteria for defining class. The buying motive of consumers has undergone a drastic change during the past 20 years, with consumers buying luxury goods not only to satisfy a need to impress others but also to satisfy one’s self-identity.

The concept of offering discounts to customers has, in many ways, discredited the brand image and value of many companies. Studies have shown that discounted pricing may adversely affect a luxury brand, as the sheen of class and grandeur is lost. However, with the changing global scenario, most luxury brands have to provide discounts to their customers in order to maintain the market share and presence.

The greatest challenges for luxury brands will be to stay true to its identity while adapting to new realities. What challenges are you facing?


luxury-logo-culture

Please Luxury, Forget The Prominent Logos

I recently read this great article by Tara Loader Wilkinson, the editor-in-chief at Wealth-X, a definitive source of intelligence on the ultra wealthy with the world’s largest collection of curated research on UHNW individuals. In her article titled "No Logos, We're Chinese", Tara explains that taste has evolved amongst the wealthy Chinese community such as they no longer want to purchase items plastered by a brand’s corporate identity.

 

Jing Ulrich, managing director and vice president of Asia-Pacific at JP Morgan, and one of Asia’s most esteemed bankers states that he “even sees people removing the label from the inside of their jacket as a way of making it more anonymous.” After years of flaunting their wealth, the Chinese have finally started to shun logos. Luxury brands face yet another challenge: they must adapt to this new reality in order to secure their position as leaders in the world’s second most prominent market for expensive goods.

 

While reading this article, I started thinking… When have I ever purchased an item with a prominent logo for one of my clients while I worked as a personal assistant to the UHNW community? The answer is simple: Never.

 

When did I see a charter guests flaunt a new logo covered Louis Vuitton bag when I worked aboard superyachts? Once again: Never.

 

What I learned from my years working for billionaires, celebrities and UHNWI is that they normally prefer to be discreet with their personal clothing style even if they love their superyachts, private jets and sports cars.

 

I had a charter guest once, married to an American baseball team owner who told me: “I simply love shopping at JC Penney and Target.” I was shocked, but then quickly realized that they probably wouldn’t have become billionaires if they had spent their money carelessly. She also mentioned that she never used to spend thousands of dollars on a purse simply to show off a logo when she lived more modestly, so why should she start now. She still wore the clothing that expressed her individual chic, being thankful that she was now able to simply afford the best.

 

For the most part, the average UHNWI loves luxury goods. Goods that reflect their own personal style, not the style of the community. They understand the value of premium goods and are willing to pay first-class prices. From my personal experience, most prefer to buy from boutique brands, the brand that is still a “secret” to others. I used to spend my days trying to find hidden gems for my employers and still do for LuxeInACity, our digital showroom.

 

In the past, boutique brands were hard to find, having to wonder the streets in a quest to find master artisans. Nowadays, the internet has made it increasingly easier to find exemplary small businesses around the world. Boutique brands are popping up all over the internet making personalized luxury more accessible. One thing is for certain, boutique luxury brands always seemed to bring about smiles.

 

According to Nicola Ko, senior luxury analyst at London-based Ledbury research, the eastern culture, which is well-known for showcasing logo as a social status, seemed to be intrigued and are starting to adopt this trend: “The Chinese have skipped over the stage where they want to fit into society by having what everyone else has, to wanting to express their own individual style. They are increasingly buying from smaller, niche brands, and we see luxury giants moving towards a brand elevation strategy for long-term growth – less logos, less canvas, more leather and precious skins,”

 

Will major luxury brands change their ways and cater to the new style of luxury? Will they stop plastering their handbags and accessories with prominent logos? I sincerely hope so. I love both LuxeInACity and AgenceLuxury, but honestly, I would never want someone to pay for a bag with our logo on it. We believe in discretion, high-quality and customer satisfaction.

 

Which “style” of luxury do you prefer: the sophisticated, discreet, savvy boutique luxury brand or the logo dominated world of “luxury brands”? From my perspective, I have to say: Please Luxury, Forget the Prominent Logos!


afluencers- affluent influencers

Who Is The Affluencer?

Not all fans are created equal. Some have the resources to support your luxury brand while others can simply admire from  a distance. Some  will brag about your products and services to everyone that will listens while others simply consume and stay silent. Obviously the more powerful and valuable consumer for a luxury brand is the one that is both affluent and influential. Global digital marketing agency iProspect recently released a study that reveals a new type of market influencer: the Affluent Influencer or “Affluencer”.

 

So who is the Affluencer? They are affluent with an annual income (HI) of $100K or more with the financial means to consume a luxury brand’s products. They are also influential  in their social circle and are recognised by their “star quality”. Often sought-after by friends and family for purchasing advice, these influencers are often called “experts”, “trendsetters” and “cool”.

 

Therefore they have great impact on the purchasing decisions of others. The affluencers should be targeted by the very marketing effort put forward by your brand.

 

In its study, iProspect took great care to separate the affluencers within the Millenial, baby Boomer and Gen X generations by uncovering the characteristics of each segment. Check out this great infographic that clearly identifies who your luxury brand should target.

 

Meet the Affluent Influencer: The "Affluencer" is your most important customer

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

 


A Color Study: Using Google As A Reference

Color evokes emotions but color in design can be very subjective. Something as simple as changing the precise hue, brightness or saturation in the color scheme of a design can have a great impact on the feelings experienced. Cultural differences can also add an element of surprise when picking a color: some colors can be seen as happy and uplifting in one country while being completely associated with depression in another.

 

When designing a logo, website, brochure, infographic or banner image, one has to be careful not to simply pick a personal color preference as the primary color. Your favorite color might be canary yellow, but using such a bright hue in your design might not send the right message to your audience.

 

To make a case for color, we have picked the simple elegant white design of Google.com, one that appeals to everyone from the world over, to give it a color facelift. So here we go:

 

Google-red-design

 

Red: Passion, Love, Anger

Red is hot. It's exudes both the beauty of love and passion or the violence behind fire, warfare and crime.

In China, red is the color of prosperity and happiness while in North America is is often associated with anger, importance (think red carpets) or danger (warning labels). In South Africa, red is the color of mourning while in some eastern countries it is the color worn by brides on their wedding day.

In design, red is powerful and should be used primarily as an accent color.

 

Google-orange

 

Orange: Energy, Happiness, Vitality

Orange means energy. As a very hot color, orange is often associated with the feelings of enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, encouragement, and stimulation.

Often associated with the fruit of the same name, orange can represent healthy foods and can even stimulate appetite. Orange is also the color of fall and harvest and is used to symbolise change and movement.

In design, orange commands attention without being as overpowering as red. Being very noticeable, it can also be a great highlight color to catch attention.

 

google-yellow

 

Yellow: Happiness, Hope, Energy

Yellow is sunshine. Evoking feelings of joy, cheerfulness, happiness, energy and warmth, yellow can be an attention grabber that stands out amongst other colors. Yellow can also be associated with hope, danger  (not as strong as red) and with babies and children. In some Egypt, yellow is used for morning,  in Japan, it represents courage and in India it's a color for merchant.

In design, avoid using yellow when trying to sell prestigious, expensive products to men; they simply won't buy a yellow business suit.

 

google-green

 

Green: New Beginnings, Abundance, Nature

Green is nature. As a very down-to-earth color, green can represent many things such as growth, harmony, freshness, fertility, new beginnings, safety (as opposed to red) and even money (dark green). Green can have a balancing and harmonizing effect and have a great healing power. As the most restful color for the human eye, green is appropriate for designs related the wealth, stability, renewal and nature.

Green can also signify a lack of experience (being green), envy or jealousy. In design, use bright green to convey energy and vibrancy, olive greens for nature and dark green for affluence.

 

google-blue

 

Blue: Calm, Responsible, Sadness

Blue is calmness. Blue is the sky and the sea. Blue symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, onfidence, faith, truth and heaven. Often associated with depth and stability, blue can also be used to represent tranquility, sincerity and responsibility.

As a color that appeals to men, blue, especially dark blue, has become the preferred color for corporate America. Blues can also be used to promote products and services related to cleanliness, air and sky, water and sea, or even high-tech products.

 

google-purple

 

Purple: Creativity, Royalty, Wealth

Purple is royalty. As a combination of red and blue, purple can take the attribute of both colors. Purple is often associated with wealth, extravagance, nobility, power, luxury, ambition, creativity, imagination, wisdom, dignity, independence, mystery and magic.

In design, light purple (such as lavender) evokes romance, spring and nostalgic feelings while darker purple suggest wealth, luxury and royalty.

 

google-brown

 

Brown: Nature, Wholesomeness, Dependability

Brown is earth, wood and stone. As a completely natural and warm neutral, brown is often associated with stability, dependability, reliability, earthiness, comfort, endurance and simplicity. Brown can also symbolise home or the great outdoors.

In design, brown can bring a feeling of warmth and wholesomeness. It is often used as a background color to replace black.

 

google-grey

 

Gray: Moody, Conservative, Formality

Gray is security. Light grays can replace white in some designs while dark grays can substitute black in others. Gray is often associated with security, reliability, intelligence, modesty, dignity, maturity, conservative and practicality.  Gray can also be considered boring, moody or depressing.

In design, gray is often perceived as modern, formal and professional. It is commonly used in corporate designs as in typography.

 

google-black

 

Black: Mystery, Elegance, Evil

Black is strong. Black is commonly associated with power, strength, authority, elegance, formality but it can also evoke death, evil, mourning, rebellion, fear and mystery.

Black is often used to exude both an edgy or elegant, modern or conservative, traditional or unconventional design. A designer must remember that black used as a background diminishes readability. Black might be better served as a highlight color or for typography.

 

google-white

 

White: Purity, Cleanliness, Virtue

White is purity. White is mostly associated with coolness, goodness, innocence, virtue, peace, precision, youth, winter, goodness, marriage (Western cultures), death (Eastern cultures), coldness and clinical. In general, white as a positive connotation in comparison to black.

Considered to be the color of perfection, white is often used in design as a neutral backdrop since it lets other colors stand out. White is popular in minimalist, modern designs as it conveys cleanliness and simplicity. White let's everything else around it speak louder, and in design, white is the best color for readability.

 

Google used white as a background with a combination of the primary colors in its logo to evoke a certain playfulness. What message do you want to send to your fans? A message of coolness or one of earthiness?