Friday 2 December 2016

Time Not Assets: How ‘Luxury’ Will be Redefined in 2016

Published 16/12/2015 | 10:15

The idea of ‘luxury’ has been redefined for 2016. So what constitutes luxury today?  More time and better life-enhancing experiences rather than assets are now being sought by Irish people and this trend looks set to make a big impact in 2016.

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We look at how luxury brands across the auto industry, fashion and travel have been reinventing themselves in preparation for this new era of luxury.

‘No Logo’ Luxury

The world’s most established luxury brands are facing the toughest challenges in their history as consumers’ expectations change.  Leading trend agency Kjaer Global has pointed towards how luxury has dramatically changed in the last decade.  In a report, commissioned by Volvo and due to be published early next year, they state that there is a new and modern interpretation of ‘no logo’ luxury, which has seen sales of heavily branded mass manufactured goods drop in favour of more discreet branding and craftsmanship visible only to those ‘in-the-know’.

In a bid to combat ‘brand fatigue’, big fashion brands are hiring fresh talent and changing strategy.  There is a growing appetite from consumers for smaller, less widely distributed labels, particularly in key markets such as China.  Gucci, Burberry and Louis Vuitton have been working to rebuild their aura of exclusivity.  Star designer for LVMH Nicolas Ghesquiere recently created a new ‘V’ logo for Louis Vuitton which is more discreet and ties in with the new research trends.

Time Off is the new Luxury

Another key trend that came through in 2015 is the growing number of primarily American companies who are offering unlimited paid holidays to their employees.  Recognising that time off rather than remuneration is the new luxury, companies such as Netflix, Virgin Group and Evernote are offering this to their employees in an effort to build loyalty and motivation.  Some US companies are even offering employees a ‘pre-cation’ holiday, complete with spending money, before they start work.

Authentic Experiences Are ‘The New Bling’

Isabelle Harvie-Watt, Global CEO of Havas Luxhub which provides marketing and communications advice to the fashion and luxury sector says that “luxury companies need to think like disrupters”.  She points out that next generation luxury customers are now thinking about luxury in terms of experience and technology.  “Instead of acquiring things, they’d rather activate.  Rare and authentic experiences are the new bling.  Luxury brands are challenged to become purveyors of self-expression and lifestyle.  The true modern luxury is all about the blend of style, craftsmanship and function and a seamless integration in the consumers’ life”.

Volvo – A New Approach to Design

In the automotive industry, Volvo has been ahead of this trend and has commissioned a new report on the evolution of luxury as part of their brand transformation journey.  “Based upon the report, we see that many well-established brands will need to adapt quickly to a more personal, rarefied and experience-based customer experience or risk being side-lined”, says Bjorn Annwall, Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Customer Service at Volvo Car Group.

The report identifies several key trends including real-time innovation, constant access and connectivity, a growing appreciation for expertise and craftsmanship, authenticity and discovery – all connected to the search for a more fulfilling life experience. A growing trend of what the report labels the Female Factor and The Good Life, reflects growing consciousness when it comes to lifestyle choices and the desire for a more balanced attitude to life.

 “With the launch of our new premium S90 sedan we think that we have understood the nature of the new luxury experience – but that will be up to our customers to decide,” says Bjorn Annwall.  “Volvo Cars has always been different. We have always approached design and the entire car experience from a human perspective, and I believe that this is what makes our cars increasingly relevant.”

The recent launch of the XC90 has confirmed Volvo Cars’ brand position as a true premium player in the auto industry, with the car garnering many positive reviews for its new take on both comfort, design and interaction and the new luxury as defined by today’s consumers.

Sponsored by: Volvo

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