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Authenticity and the changing face of luxury
When you think of luxury, you think of expensive and quality brands that are highly established and well-regarded. But in the modern world, it seems ‘luxury’ is no longer given to a brand or service that has earnt its title through this exclusivity and authenticity, but rather through the brand marketing itself as such.
With advertising becoming more ingenious and the markets becoming vastly saturated with new products, it seems brands are creating unique experiences to set themselves apart by offering bespoke experiences and personalised services for their customers. As brands strive to meet the increasing demands of consumers, it seems this new attitude towards originality has become the new face of luxury.
According to Marketing Week, recent research has suggested that “the more a brand is perceived to have an established story, the stronger the perception is of it being a luxury brand”. One example of this is Twinings. This luxury company is one of the oldest tea brands in the UK, with the brand opening what is thought to be Britain’s first ever tea room in London in 1706 (which still operates today).
It seems this age-old authenticity is what has given Twinings its luxury characteristic and originality. Having been founded over 300 years ago, the brand earned the respect it has today and established itself long before other tea brands entered the market.
But for some brands, merely suggesting a link to a monumental period in time can also give the brand a luxury feel. An example of this is Ableforth’s Bathtub Gin. The brand has marketed itself as a traditional ‘bathtub gin’ complete with old-fashioned packaging as a play on the prohibition era. However, this modern brand has merely established itself as being a traditional product with a rich history and age-old backstory by latching on to a significant period in time.
The research highlighted in Marketing Week also says that distinctiveness plays a part in giving a brand a luxury status among consumers. Alongside this desire for distinction, consumers are also looking for individuality and the feeling of belonging to something – in short, exclusivity.
Maserati’s general manager told Marketing Week what he thinks it boils down to: “The likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes are probably selling in excess of two million cars a year globally. A brand like Porsche is selling something like 250,000 cars a year globally versus Maserati which last year sold just over 50,000 cars.
“Maserati is a far more exclusive brand and therefore that appeals to this sense of individuality and distinctiveness, which I think also leads into the desire for more personalisation as well.”
This is also true for the food and drink industry. Often, foods and drinks are labelled as luxury because they contain an ingredient that is hard to come by and difficult to replicate, such as the spice Saffron.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, growing in only the Mediterranean and Asia. The Courier & Press describe it as a highly labour-intensive crop. “Crocus sativa, or the saffron crocus, flowers in the autumn. Each flower has three tiny, thread-like stigmas in the centre. These must be removed by hand and carefully toasted to dry.” To create just one ounce of Saffron, whopping 5,000 crocus flowers are used, costing an eye-watering $500 (£382). It’s this kind of exclusivity which adds to the luxury feel of the product.
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It seems personalised and bespoke experiences are also a crucial component of what it means to be a ‘luxury’ brand. From superior customer service to giving products a personal touch, this unique selling point is key to set its self above other brands.
The drinks market has lots to offer in terms of this personalised experience. The rise in personalised drinks, like Kolibri, is taking the industry by storm, because customers no longer want to be limited by choice, they want a drink that is tailored to them. Personalised experiences can mean anything from controlling the amount of sugar in your drink with our Kolibri drops, to simply offering customers a non-alcoholic option to enjoy where taste is in your control. The more the customer feels catered to, the more personal and exclusive the experience.
No longer is it just traditional values and heritage that help a brand obtain respect and a luxury status. Being able to cater to consumers’ needs and tailoring the experience seems to be key in setting a brand not just apart from others, but also above. In this ever-changing industry, I’m interested to see how consumers will continue to change the definition of ‘luxury’, as well as what other brands will do to make their product stand out from the rest.