There are some that believe that luxury’s rocking – it’s just one big booming affair. But where in the world is it rocking? There are others, particularly more fluent to the history and movement of luxury brand(s) in Asia that see a potential turning that might forebode the idea of merchants being more critical being more careful in analyzing the future.
Why? Because the nature of the character of what luxury brands holistically stand for — authenticity, history, familial and generational legacy, the most exquisite materials, the most hallowed approach to the details of making are…being ignored. Logo’ed luxury items are a top seller — but what for? To escalate status and role — to jump class. And in Asia, for anyone that’s worked there, the notion of class — as a distinct hierarchical gradient of society — is commonplace, if not the norm.
Luxury and its acquisition allows class jumping — but, it’s less to comprehending the relationship to the actual “story of the brand”, and more to status and wealth. Therein lies the challenge — the art of the brand, the actual meaningful story that lies behind that heritage and legacy — is lost.
When Robert Polet, CEO of Gucci, speaks of the catapulting power of the Asian market, and the wild-catting developments there for virtually every brand in the luxury space, it’s about first contact…it’s the first connection for many to understand the power of the luxury brand in the context of a kind of dream — and something found. But, the key will be — sustainability. If the biggest growth in the world resides in the market(s) of Asia, then the premise by mass is the pursue luxury as a means to jump class, regardless of legacy or story, and is the biggest counterfeiting enterprise on the planet, then the strategy needs to shift.
And this is about the premise that you lightly gestured to. I’m not going to go into some kind of self-aggrandising positioning, this is merely for the sake of exploration. What I’m offering, is that in forgetting the very art of the luxury brand, the heart of it — in the biggest market in the world, then where is luxury going to go?
I believe that a key challenge facing this space is connectivity — from maker to audience. Why is it that so many luxury brands have such flat growth in the US market, presuming a position of, perhaps, the most advanced in the world in terms of taste? I believe that many Americans don’t get, don’t comprehend, luxury — except in the context of class jumping, as well. Ask an American about a business, product or service that they really relate to, are emotionally connected with, that has the inherent qualities noted above — legacy, heritage, story, class, manufacture, materials, time in preparation, and higher level of cost — and in my experience, there’s not much of an answer. Nordstrom, for one, might be the answer. But that’s really not luxury, that’s specialty.
Here’s the premise, there will need to be a strategic shift to build on relationship development and sustainable creation of connections with customers, social networks and communities to push past the mere class leap, and onwards to continuing that connection — in the art of the brand.
Something like this, perhaps:
“You love this brand because it’s made for you — it’s something very special, it’s made by a family that’s been making it for years, it’s a tradition, you’ve been buying it for some time, you can’t really remember how long…But the connection is special, you relate — the shops, the salespeople, the website, the emails and catalogues, it’s about that story, that relationship — how that makes you feel. That’s special, you’ll hold onto it. And because the object is so special, you’ll hold on to that as well.”
Who’s doing that? I believe that this thread is something to be nurtured — right now, I’m not sure how much it is…
What am I missing?