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New Luxury

By: Pam Danziger
Posted: May 3, 2007, from the May 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 5 of 7

Because luxury is tied up with creature comforts and feelings of comfort, consumers who achieve a luxury lifestyle are not likely to make do with less or give up continued luxury. Luxury consumers buy and continue to buy luxury because they can afford to and appreciate the enhanced experience of luxury, but they are not buying luxury to impart status or social advancement, nor are they willing to go out on a limb financially to acquire something they clearly can’t afford.

Luxury Lesson #7—Luxury consumers don’t buy because of the brand, rather the brand justifies the purchase

The brand is not the arbiter of whether or not a specific product is a luxury. Neither does it play the deciding role in whether or not to buy. Rather, the brand becomes a justifier for the purchase. It assures the luxury consumer of the superior quality of the item and that it will last for years. The brand and its reputation encourage consumers to dig a little deeper into their pocketbooks to buy. It’s the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” that confirms the product is worth the extra investment, so it plays a critical role in the buying decision. The brand transmits the value and quality messages so important for consumers who participate in the luxury lifestyle.

In the cosmetics and beauty products category, unlike most other luxury goods categories, the brand actually ranks fairly high in overall influence on the luxury consumer. But this category is what we, in market research circles, would call an “outlier” in the luxury goods market, which means it is fundamentally different than other luxury goods categories like leather handbags, diamond jewelry, down-filled sofas or the latest and greatest flatscreen TV.

Cosmetics are an “affordable” luxury; to participate in the luxury cosmetics market a consumer doesn’t have to plan on spending thousands of dollars for the top of line brand. The average luxury consumer in 2006 spent $1,730 on luxury beauty products, making this the lowest spending category of the 22 luxury product and services categories tracked in Unity Marketing’s study. By contrast a typical luxury consumer spent more than $4,000 on fashion accessories and over $16,000 on jewelry. In these high spending categories the brand is far less important than the style, design and trust in the store where the purchase is made.