Our perception of luxury – and what we now expect from luxury products and services – has changed. Once elitist and just accessible to the rich, luxury has now democratised to become the aspiration of millions and is readily accessible to the masses. Luxury is no longer just about a brand name or solely synonymous with material things. A sense of time, experience and value are intrinsic to enriching today’s luxury offer and should be the building blocks that help us create new definitions of luxury in the future. With this shift, the future of luxury has the potential to empower all of us (and not just the elite few) to live fuller, better and more abundant lives.
Here we outline three key shifts influencing the future of luxury that can help inspire brands and individuals to rethink luxe and empower them to begin designing for good.
1. Slow Luxury: Richness of time
Luxury brands need to encourage us to slow down and explore with thoughtful contemplation and appreciation. Today luxury consumers are experiencing a sensory overload from overt luxury and are increasingly looking for slow and subtle luxury products. Over a 13 year period, luxury fashion brand Maison Martin Margiela released its homeware collection, ‘The Line 13’, with one product per year – from an ostrich egg doorstop to a paint pail champagne bucket – to embody the brand’s minimal luxury aesthetic and behaviour. On the other hand, the White Wolf Hotel, in Portugal, is a holistic retreat that takes luxury travellers on a contemplative journey through quietness and calm. Guests stay in separate buildings, each designed to give the appearance of diving into the ground, signifying the relationship between man and nature, the guest and the experience.
2. Experiential Luxury: From conspicuous to meaningful
Luxury brands need to reaffirm their exclusivity and specialness to offer a more highly personalised service. Luxury consumers are increasingly moving from an expressive to an impressive luxury mind-set, seeking out experiences over material goods. Evidencing this shift, Selfridges recently embarked on an exploration into personalised retail. Using a consumer profiling methodology, The Fragrance Lab aimed to identify and match a signature scent for individual customers based on their personality and preferences.
3. Philanthropic luxury: Enriched value
Luxury brands need to understand that we are socially and ethically aware and want our purchases to have an added, enriched and ethical value.
Ethically minded e-commerce site, Zady, is selling clothes with a conscience, enticing customers to buy fewer pieces at the highest quality to promote longevity and timelessness. Similarly, U.S. minimal luxury fashion and lifestyle brand, Everlane, champions ‘radical transparency’, with the belief that consumers have the right to know what a product costs to make and the factories they are made in. Everlane taps into the growing consumer desire for straightforward and transparent consumerism and offers their customers the confidence to indulge in guilt free luxury.
New and evolving luxury behaviour embraces intimate and personal connection, spiritual and transformative experiences, with emotional and ethical learning that reaches new depths. These emerging cultural insights around luxury present new and potential opportunity for all. Brands need to recognise the shift in consumer desire and the new brand trajectory, looking within to discover new ways to provide for the individual and for our world. A new generation of mindful brands could signify a new future for luxury and a new and better life for all.