Exclusivity and the rise of “no-logo” luxury

Isaac Mostovicz writes that that luxury products without overt branding are the new mark of exclusivity...

I have written recently about the idea of luxury as exclusivity – not just an expensive product or experience, but also one that is unique and not obtainable by all.

This article by Jim Shi in the Financial Times makes a similar point, arguing that:

“Luxury products without overt branding are the new mark of exclusivity… brands as diverse as Victoria Beckham and Celine are whispering their exclusivity amid a growing consensus that “anonymity” is the key to being recognized.”

Luxury handbags by Victoria Beckham

This is a trend that high-end stores are noticing. The Barneys New York store’s executive vice-president Daniella Vitale said of its products:

“[It’s about] expression through details, exquisite materials and things that are not so identifiable.”

This emphasis on timelessness, elegance, quality and “private luxury” has seen luxury brands such as Hermès – who posted a 50 percent increase in profits earlier this year – thrive despite the economic downturn, or perhaps because of it.  As Ed Burstell, the managing director of luxury store Liberty of London, says”:

“If budgets are tighter, there is much greater value put on bags that will stand the test of time.”

These purchases are discreetly luxurious rather than ostentatious, fitting well with the perceived age of austerity in the US and Europe as governments face difficult financial decisions. These items still tap into a desire for admiration and style, but from “informed insiders” rather than the average person on the street. Add to this the often limited availability of these items, and there is a real exclusivity around the luxury logo-free product.

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Luxury as exclusive, not just expensive

Isaac Mostovicz writes that that exclusivity is key to standing out in the luxury market, as evidenced by the recent trend for ice cruises. ...

This recent article published on the CNN website on ice sailing puts forward a compelling definition of what luxury has come to mean to global consumers – of luxury as exclusivity.

'Big Fish', one of the new breeds of "ultimate adventure boats"

The article looks at the recent phenomenon of luxury consumers swapping their holidays in warmer climes such as the Caribbean for adventurous ‘ice cruises’. Passengers about vessels equipped for navigating icy waters even have the option to explore ‘off road’ waters.

Neil Cheston, Director of Yacht Sales ad Charter at YCO Yacht explaines that one of the reasons there he is seeing a rise in the popularity of ice sailing is its exclusivity.

“…luxury has evolved to mean more than just expensive, the emphasis is also on exclusive. Our clients want to get off the beaten track, to discover something that all their friends haven’t seen and, equally important, to find somewhere where they can be totally alone with friends and family.”

Passengers on these $235,000 a week chartered cruises are said to get a thrill from visiting areas which have rarely seen human exploration. This ties into the recent trend of building custom yachts to seek alternative and exclusive cruising grounds.

I think that this idea of luxury as something exclusive and private, not just expensive, certainly mirrors my research and experience. As global wealth rises and luxury spending increases in Asia and the BRIC countries, luxury can no longer be defined simply by a hefty price tag. This can particularly be applied to Lambdas personalities, who seek achievement and uniqueness as an ultimate end goal. For them, to holiday somewhere that few people can claim to have been is likely to be appealing, as it would be seen as an experience to help them stand out from the crowd.

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Luxury meets publishing with the rise of limited edition books

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

Publishing houses are increasingly attempting to turn some of their first edition books into exclusive (and expensive) collector’s items. Taschen, the Los Angeles-based publisher, and luxury publisher Kraken Opus are among a handful of publishers who are publishing books in unusual formats with unusual features for exceptional prices. One example is a book about Indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar. Published by Kraken Opus, the limited edition of ten copies ($75,000 each) includes a special page made from paper pulp mixed with a pint of Tendulkar’s blood.

Taschen has found such demand for some of its collector’s edition books that it has raised prices for some books it has already released. Its Helmut Newton photography book, titled “Sumo,” now costs $15,000, up from $1,500 when it came out in 1999.

These beautiful books appeal to Theta personalities, for whom a well selected book can make them feel like the true ‘them’, as well as Lambda personalities–for them a special, exclusive book can make them feel exceptional. In either case, how the individual interprets the book determines its value for him or her.

Christopher Hanlon says of this article...

Dr IM is the word ‘them’ the key?

Thank you

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Pricing luxury mobiles

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

An article in the IHT highlights a renewed interest among manufacturers in niche market luxury handsets. Vertu, the sector heavyweight, simply can’t turn out their precious-metal phones fast enough, as they are restricted by the limited capacity of their workshop in the UK.

However, if Siemen’s venture into the luxury market can be taken as an example, evidence would suggest that mass production and (relatively) affordable pricing is not the way to go. Their Xelibri line was culled after only 18 months in the market – but the Gizmodo article doesn’t quite tell the whole story. While the Xelibri handsets were undeniably oddball, and had only a limited feature set, the same could be said for Vertu’s line-up. Less quirky, perhaps, but a far cry from today’s smartphones in terms of functionality.

Is a high price a key determinant of appeal, then? The Xelibri range retailed for hundreds of pounds, whereas Vertu’s premium range starts in the tens of thousands; had Siemens added a couple of zeros to the prices of their fledgling range, woud they have fared better?

Economists call products which exhibit this characteristic Veblen goods, after Thorsten Veblen, who was among the first to examine the purchasing of luxury items. To anyone involved in brand strategy, this concept won’t be at all unfamiliar – by pitching to a higher price bracket, the sense of exclusivity is increased.

However, all of this comes with a caveat: unless the expensive product is backed up with outstanding customer service, great packaging and comprehensive after-sales support, the appeal may quickly fade. Simply slapping a bigger price tag onto a poor product experience won’t drive new custom.

Janus Thinking says of this article...

Will a limited edition save Alfa?

Continuing the automotive theme from ealier this week… Reuters report that Alfa is to launch a limited run car, the 8C, in an attempt to salvage its poor reputation for quality. Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, the new model…

Yamary says of this article...

Walking in the presence of ganits here. Cool thinking all around!

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