The term ‘Luxury’ has been forced to abdicate the pedestal of excellence, exclusivity, and uniqueness, and is being used more as a prop than a promise. These days it is being used as an integral part of a marketing strategy, but only as a footnote in the corner of a webpage – a tagline in a TV commercial. Luxury is a dynamic concept, and strikes a different chord in different people. It is difficult to define the multi-dimensional concept of luxury, as the very nature of luxury is to evolve – today’s luxury will soon become tomorrow’s standard.


Luxury began as a concept catering to the needs of the elite, and it slowly trickled down the ladder, becoming more and more affordable to people. From indulging in luxury brands as a means to impress others, to looking at luxury as a means of self-identity, luxury brand customers have, indeed, come a long way. In order to understand the nature of luxury brands, one has to understand the nature of luxury customers. Many marketing experts have spoken about the changing meanings and values of luxury; however, without gaining insight into the psychology of luxury customers, it is going to be difficult to carve a niche for luxury products in any dynamic marketplace.


Psychology of Luxury Consumer - The ConnoisseurConnoisseurs find luxury in well-designed, heritage-rich brands. They gravitate towards great craftsmanship and a history of tradition. These ultra-luxurious affluent personalities focus solely on aspects such as quality, value, creativity and heritage. They have refined tastes, and they buy products that are “classy” but not necessarily costly. They indulge in luxury brands that value art and history.


Psychology of Luxury Consumer - The AspirationalThe Aspirational simply like to keep up with the changing trends of the market. They are conspicuous buyers, and are the early adapters of new and upcoming trends. They understand brand language; they are status-conscious and believe in trend-setting products rather than creative ones. They are not very creative or adventurous, but believe in consuming luxury brands as a means to look trendy and affluent.


Psychology of Luxury Consumer - The CreativeThese luxury customers look at luxury as a means of self-expression, identity, unconventionality and uniqueness. They consume luxury brands when they are able to identify with the brand’s values and ideologies. They do not look at luxury as a status symbol; they are free-thinkers, and are not motivated by the need to consume luxury goods.


Psychology of Luxury Consumer - The AltruistThis group of luxury consumer is new and fast emerging. This group wants to enjoy the charm of luxury brands and products with a clear conscience. They consume luxury brands that they think give back to the society and that take its social responsibility seriously. They care a lot about conservation, health and fitness, and completely reject the idea of conspicuous consumption.


Psychology of Luxury Consumer - The SpenderThis luxury consumer consumes luxury only on select occasions. They spend on luxury products only occasionally, as a gift, but never as a regular phenomenon. They look at luxury as a special treat and not as a way of life. They are careful spenders and do not give in to rampant spending. For them, luxury is for the one-off occasion.


Going forward, luxury brands must look beyond mere market reports and statistics; they will be able to understand the nuances of consumer behavior only when they have insight into the minds of their luxury customers.


Roxanne Genier