At Punto Consulting, we were curious to know the vision of senior experts from the luxury sector, on this quite polarizing subject. And most of all, how their perception might be useful for a wider audience.
This November, we took advantage of a local event, “Poblenou Open Night”, and decided to organise a retail talk to examine the concept of luxury. We invited top professionals working for a long time in the industry and asked them how this concept is translated in companies like Estée Lauder, Loewe and University Elisava on a daily basis.
The interesting result was that we had 3 completely different approaches; one based on trends and future expectations, another more orientated towards heritage and a sense of belonging, and finally a breaking edge vision.
In a relaxed environment, we learnt from Laura Clèries, futures research detective, Head of Research at Elisava, that there are some important trends that should be taken into consideration when we talk about what could be luxury in the near future. In her inspiring presentation, she pointed towards 3 main aspects:
1. Guilt-free: a movement that is happening from bottom up. Consumers who want to be part of a conscious brand, that respects the environment and promotes less waste, where purchasing awareness is considered much more elegant.
2. Wealthy: to take care of oneself, to empathise with others, to show that humanity is perceived as more unique than standard behaviors. To use Emotion design to express our feelings and find that a remote escape in nature becomes a very high-end delicacy, (even if it means to stay alone in an isolated pool in the middle of the desert.) It´s the new Chic.
3. Tech Savvy: the name is new, but the concept is the closest to the luxury definition we have heard before, mainly it is to count on artisans and experts that are so unique in what they do, that any piece touched by them would be considered art. The POD ( point of differentiation) here would be adding the community sense when using those services. Sharing your status and experience while consuming this service/ product would be considered extra deluxe.
Another point of view came from Amanda Pérez. After working in Loewe for more than a decade; she said that for a luxury brand, the devil lies in the details. That even the corporate envelope of a shop, the type of pen and grooming of the sales assistant are key tools to better position a brand.
But what she really pointed out had another level of difficulty towards the competitors: You must achieve excellence in everything you do, no matter what you do, you just have to do it better than the others.
Heritage. Tradition without smelling old. She said that if your brand has roots, you should use it in your favor, giving credibility to your logo and storytelling.
Experience more than purchases, your brand must provide remarkable memories, and if it´s in a community, even better. At the end of the day, those who buy certain quality want to be part of a members club, to be part of a lifestyle more than just adding a product in their bag.
And finally, the voice of Estée Lauder through the vast knowledge of Francesc Rodríguez. He brought a more practical approach mentioning that there’s a contradiction on the massive product production in high-end brands, Javier says that this is not what luxury really means. Exclusivity is the motto for Estee Lauder, and the message should be individualised.
He brought a personal point of view after working so many years in the industry that made us think twice, he said that luxury goods are a tool to power demonstration and should not be overthought, as they are purely an avatar. Companies give too many twists to something that should be, above all, sellable and should generate wealthiness.
Luxury is 100% an illusion, he said. Now, how fascinating it is to think that we are all magnetised by this universe of pure illusion? And why does it makes us feel so unique when we buy that special something and we become part of a social group?
In several Hindu religions, there’s a concept called Maya or Illusion. Which is a veil created by the ego that does not let us see the truth of the universe. Would Javier have experimented with Maya during all these years coordinating one of the most prestigious beauty groups?
Well, the truth is, the luxury industry moves a great part of the economy and predicts trends for the mainstream brands. Wearing a Maya or not, it is worthy to take a moment and discover what luxury really means to you.