Luxury comes with a purpose
As detailed in one of the very first posts I wrote here, luxury has changed a lot over the last decade - an evolution accelerated by the pandemic and the rise of a new generation of luxury consumers.
Nowadays, luxury is not just about opulence or just a price point anymore. It's about much more than that, as new luxury consumers now expect their favorite brands to have a voice and to stand for something. More than ever, they want to feel connected to their brands; they want to share the same values. Whether it is about supporting and defending minorities, a particular cause, climate change, nature, gender equality, fair trade or about building an ambitious sustainability agenda, purpose is now at the heart of luxury. I am going to be a bit provocative here but it's not even a game changer element anymore, it's just a hygiene factor. Consumers are not going to reward you for standing up for something. They expect your brand to do so, and if you don't, then they will take action. It's now time for luxury brands to take a pledge and make it happen.... with all the complexity that the paradox between profit, growth and purpose will bring.
It has to be true, it has to feel genuine and in line with the brand's DNA, but most of all, it has to be supported by tangible and consistent actions. Also, it can't be isolated anymore, managed by a few people from an obscure CSR team. It has to be embedded into every action of the company. It has to embodied by the marketing and commercial teams. It has to be the common thread to every initiative.
For luxury brands, given the price consumers/shoppers will be expected to pay, the idea of something that lasts over time and can be repaired or reinvented will be an interesting route. The "buying less but better" concept will also be a powerful idea.
As Diana Verde Nieto was already writing back in 2016,
"Luxury occupies a retail space fraught with expectation. Consumers demand a lot for their money. The modern luxury audience is intelligent and curious, and increasingly uninterested in attaining status from a price tag. Instead, we have found that luxury consumers demand integrity and a narrative to their brands."
In all cases, brand managers should be willing to audit their brands in the most honest way possible and start asking the questions that may feel a little bit uncomfortable at first. Also, let us remember that brands don't have to be perfect right away. The important part is the honesty, the transparency, and the long-term commitment.
Credit: Parfums Christian Dior - Online survey posted on the brand's Linkedin account on March 29 (730 replies in less than 5 hours)
Sources & Additional reading:
The Patagonia Paradox & How Luxury Can Learn About Purpose | Jing Daily - by Erwan Rambourg
Working with Purpose: Luxury in 2016 Requires Vision and Principles (luxurysociety.com) - by Diana Verde Nieto