Introducing a new series of editorial articles where I will share my opinion on various topics, I would like to start with a wide question: why the hell do we buy luxury goods? Let me share my thoughts on the basis of the luxury industry and the client’s motivation.
If there is one positive aspect of that coronavirus situation, it’s definitely the time it offers for thinking and being introspective. Perfect timing to meditate on the roots of luxury and why do we buy luxury goods.
I’ve read many books on this theme, including the great The Luxury Strategy: Break the Rules of Marketing by Jean-Noël Kapferer, so I will base my opinion on them but also (and mostly) on my 10 years of experience in the luxury industry.
We buy luxury goods because they have a better crafting and material quality
Well, no. And if that’s your case, then you should think twice before your next purchase… There are fast-fashion luxury brands and everlasting luxury brands. Do you think a Saint Laurent or Givenchy handbag will last longer than a leather Longchamp? Do you think they have a better finishing and a better leather? Believe me, they don’t.
Craftmanship is a strong and usual marketing argument in the luxury industry, but that’s not always that amazing. You would be so surprised if you visited a Cartier manufacture or a Gucci atelier! Not everyone can be Patek Philippe or Hermès, unfortunately, and the border between premium and luxury is actually quite thin here.
Quality of materials and crafting is definitely not a valid argument to justify buying luxury goods. Do not hide yourself behind that :)
We buy luxury goods to show social group membership
YEAH! Here we are. The need we have to demonstrate we are part of an elevated social category is an important point in the luxury industry. Consciously or unconsciously, we buy luxury goods for this. It doesn’t explain 100% of the purchasing behavior of course, but that counts for a large part.
We want to show we have a wealthy situation. We want to demonstrate we are part of the elite. We want to expose our taste for chic and fine things. There are many different social groups of course, from the bling-bling (they ostensibly wear Cartier, Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Rolex or drive a Porsche…) to the happy few (who discretely wear Bottega Veneta, Loro Piana, Van Cleef, Patek Philippe or use La Prairie products…) and the sophisticated (they love Vêtements, Off-White, Gucci, Balenciaga, Hublot…).
And there is no good or bad group. Just a different level of maturity, exigency and perception of life. And the brands know how to play with that feeling of belonging, through their communication, visuals and even in-store during the sales ceremony story-telling.
We buy luxury goods to enjoy brand experiences
Not all of us. It really depends on the age (millenials love unique experiences in general), the gender, the country… and the level of maturity we have regarding luxury shopping.
I have to say it also depends on the sector. It’s easy to spend a whole afternoon at Bucherer looking for a high-end watch and you will normally get a wonderful in-store experience. Same for a Bentley or Maserati car dealer. And all the client relationship programs offered after a purchase are just amazing. A true brand experience.
But when it comes to a Vuitton or Gucci store, that’s another story. They are more luxury supermarkets to me… Don’t get me wrong, I like the products and the brands. But purchasing something in these stores is a nightmare, you have to queue at the entrance, inside and at cash register. Being very popular is not an excuse.
We buy luxury goods to satisfy an epicurean behavior
That’s definitely not true for everyone but only for a very few segment of clients. They have a kind of selfish behavior, the opinion or advices from others are not important.
This is where I stand, for instance : as an epicurean, I love buying the finest things and I enjoy them because I give importance to the brand’s history, the product specifications, the creative process behind each product or collection, and the fact I am part of all of these as a client.
I know that all staff back-end and front-end is doing its best to deliver a great product and experience, and that makes a huge difference to me compare to premium goods. An epicurean is ready to pay a way more for that.
In other words…
We all have our own motivations making us purchasing luxury goods. There is no bad or good, they are just part of who we are. Just assume it, don’t feel guilty and keep enjoying some shopping time in fancy stores. Remember, that’s an industry full of brands with amazing history!
Find here a great study about the luxury market in 2019.