As a general rule, most high-end brands can be divided into five types of luxury brands depending on the products they offer.

• Prestige Brands:

Prestige brands offer the highest level of creativity and craftsmanship. They command loyal following and because of their history and rich heritage, they are established status symbols. They do not follow fluctuating market trends. A few prestige brands that quickly come to mind are Aston Martin (car), Feadship (superyacht) and Jaeger LeCoultre (watch).

• Masstige Brands:

Masstige refers to prestige for the masses and is often associated with ownership of certain brand name products at a fraction of the cost. This category is often referred to as New Luxury or Mass Luxury and amplified the democratization of luxury goods. Typical masstige brands include Lancôme, Apple and Godiva. The masstige strategy is also often applied by prestige brands looking to trade-down to increase sales volumes. Think of Chanel’s cosmetic division or BMW’s affordable models.

• Premium Brands:

The difference between prestige brand and premium brand is simply a matter of degree, one that is often blurry. An example would be Rolex when compared with Patek Philippe, Piaget or Vacheron Constantin.

• Boutique Brands:

A boutique luxury brand is one that, in my opinion, gives honor to the true definition of luxury. Think of Calzature Marini, which has been creating bespoke shoes for men in Rome since1899 or of Norton & Sons, a Saville Row tailor with roots dating back to 1821. The new artisans of today who produce luxurious products by hand should also be included in this category even if they lack the heritage and pedigree of established boutique brands.

• Fashion Brands:

Fashion brands are the common trend-setters addressing the needs of the masses whether they are of high-quality or not. Fashion brands create fads with their collections and seasons while luxury brands create products that are often considered timeless.

The main point to note in understanding what constitutes a luxury brand is to understand the nature of the people who buy these brands and their buying behavior. There are a number of reasons why affluents and HNWI buy products from luxury brands such as the need to get access to exclusive, high-quality, innovative, ultra-stylish products that display exceptional craftsmanship. But among all, consumers buy luxury products because it strikes a chord in them, showcases their identity, makes them feel a desirable emotion and answers a need for recognition, peer-approval and status.

Roxanne Genier