WARC: The changing face of US luxury

NEW YORK: Luxury brands need to invest in brand building if they are to address changes in consumer perceptions and desires, new research suggests.

The Insights team at Mindshare North America surveyed 2,000 US consumers (1,600 luxury consumers and 400 non-luxury consumers) and carried out four focus groups with luxury consumers.

“While there are certain fundamental and immutable human motivations around luxury, our research shows that consumers’ luxury behaviors are shifting due to everything from changing demographics to evolved values and priorities to new influencers,” said Mark Potts, Head of Insights, Mindshare North America.

So, for example, millennials are more likely than older groups to say that “big luxury brands have lost their personal feel” (55% vs 37% Boomers) and to prefer the potential social kudos that comes with being among the first to buy a lesser-known luxury brand (50% vs 23% Boomers).

And as American demographics change, so multicultural consumers are becoming more important in various luxury categories, including fashion (where 29% of multicultural consumers owned or purchased luxury brands vs. 20% of white consumers), spirits (25% vs 19%) and perfume 17% vs 8%).

At the same time, what consumers are looking for from luxury brands today is not the same as 15 years ago.

Back then they wanted qualities and attributes such as charming, glamorous, sensuous, and stylish; but now, thanks in part to what evolutionary psychologist Charlie L. Hardy has termed competitive altruism, traits like leader, kind, helpful, reliable, and trustworthy are more relevant.

Mindshare NA also noted that respondents thought today’s luxury is more accessible and that it no longer implies that something is exclusive or hard to obtain.

Accordingly, it suggested marketers should look for ways to leverage new types of scarcity such as quietness and wellness, space and uniqueness.

The final trend Mindshare NA observed was how the new influencers and arbiters of luxury are media and celebrity, including some stars of social media.

“Luxury marketers need to focus on identifying the power centers and status leaders in their respective categories—and how they’re changing today,” it advised.

Read it also on WARC.