luxury gadgets

When does luxury become a commodity?

Isaac Mostovicz writes that luxury products are at risk of becoming a commodity quicker than ever before ...

A recent article in the Washington Post highlights that when new and exciting high-tech gadgets launch, it isn’t long before the wider market follows and attempts to replicate the sought after product. As industry players join the market, the cost of components goes down and competition intensifies.

As a general rule, increased competition forces companies to improve their offer and quality of product – benefitting the customer. As is identified, the natural evolution of a product means it isn’t long before what is considered luxury becomes a commodity. A process all the more exacerbated by today’s pace of trend and innovation.

For Lambdas who look to differentiate themselves with the luxury they buy, how to stay ahead of the curve is an important consideration. Time must be dedicated to research the ‘next new thing’. By the time a product is popular, it may be considered a commodity; this observation suggests all Lambdas are likely to be ‘early adopters’.

In the early stages of a product’s life cycle, early adopters usually focus on the benefits and new features, leading to weak price elasticity and are happy to pay more money for a product to get it ‘now’.

Ofcom’s fifth International Communications Market report suggests that there are perhaps nations of ‘early adopters’; in the USA, 44 per cent of households have HDTV services with access to 404 HD channels, followed by Japan (43 per cent of households and 130 channels), France (42 per cent and 55 channels) and then the UK (13 per cent and 50 channels).

Japan consistently emerges as a leading nation in adopting emerging technologies, while this is partly down to its heritage and reputation for technological innovation, does this also suggest that such a culture draws synergies with the Lambda personality type?

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Dial ‘D’ for Dior

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

We’ve seen gem-encrusted phones before, but here’s something new that toes the line between luxury and excess. Most people just use a cell phone to make and receive calls–in many markets they can get one free. But Dior recently released a pair of phones that add a little sparkle to one’s regular regime. Actually a lot of sparkle–their new top of the line “Lady Dior” phone is encrusted with 3251 carats (in 640 stones) of Swarovski crystals and comes with a crocodile-skin sheath and a mini-phone that women can attach to the outside of their handbags so they don’t need to dig when they get a call. The phone costs $26,000 (a version without the crystals and crocodile costs $5000).

Much like luxury waters, some people will find this phone irresistible and interpret it as worthy of its price, the very best phone money can buy. However I think most people will stick with phones that price in the hundreds rather than thousands.

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Apple’s iPhone launches

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

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Today marks the UK launch of Apple’s iPhone on the O2 network. Already a pricey proposition (with a £269 ($564) pricetag and minimum contract for £35 ($73) a month), those who want something to differentiate themselves from the masses sure to pick up iPhones today need not look further than London luxury retailer Selfridge’s.

The department store is offering a whole range of upscale ‘blinged’ versions of phones, including the iPhone, with options for exteriors in steel, 18 carat gold, or 18 carat rose gold, with or without diamond encrusting. The phones are offered through a partnership with Amosu–currently the pricest on offer is a diamond-encrusted Nokia N95 for £12,000 ($25,180). Earlier this week there was a diamond-encrusted iPhone for £20,000 ($41,968), but it seems to have sold out.

Selfridge’s has also partnered with several designers to create holding cases by the designers Christian Louboutin, Chloe, and Burberry.

The rise of luxury phones (see also the Vertu mobile phone series) shows how they have become an integral way in which consumers represent themselves.  Less a form of technology, more a fashionable accessory…

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