Luxury branding is a cornerstone to reaching a high-end market, whether it involves chocolate, confectionery or other products such as fashion merchandise. The key to luxury branding success revolves around the concept of special qualities and exclusiveness.
If the campaign is effective, then target individuals will develop a meaningful bond with the brand as part of a social and cultural experience. In order to achieve this connection, focus must be placed on the consumer-centric paradigm.
Core of Luxury Branding
The concept of luxury branding is built on important cultural, social and external trends. It means that researchers and practitioners must study trends that influence the target market in a way that corresponds with luxury ideals and affluent consumption lifestyles. While the business of luxury branding has a long history of tapping into elite markets, the 1990s marked the beginning of premium quality and aesthetic value reaching a broader consumer market beyond wealthy individuals.
Luxury brands are designed to have symbolic and experiential benefits, as in prestige and social status. At the same time, however, marketers of luxury brands must not fall into the trap of misunderstanding that all luxury items as part of a one-dimensional consolidated industry. One of the most basic definitions of a luxury brand was published by Interbrand in 2008:
- exists within a product category tier that highlights price insensitivity
- expensive price generates a positive image
- perceived price is low priority among target consumers
As more companies began to understand premium offerings, they opened up targeting to middle-class consumers. While some of the traditional big players continued to focus on heritage and superiority as components for the luxury experience, a new direction in marketing involved combining perceived high prestige at lower prices to attract the mainstream.
Another group of players expanded their base by diversifying into new international markets. A common theme among each of these players was a commitment to brand building, as those that made branding a core value, gained competitive edges over those that relied on the value of products and services.
Cultural Subgroups of Luxury Consumers
The market of luxury consumers is complex in the sense it encompasses a wide range of social and economic factors, which influence consumption. Several researchers (Chadha and Husband, Michman and Mazze and Chevalier and Mazzalovo) have divided the market into three segments:
- luxury gourmands (elitist)
- luxury regulars (democratic)
- luxury nibblers (distant)
Luxury gourmands, also known as connoisseurs, are usually affluent members of society who can afford to pay premium prices without worrying about quantity. This group simply enjoys quality and the prestige of luxury brands. They are not concerned with the price, since their net worth tends to be in the millions.
The class of luxury regulars are those people who like to try many things and consider themselves to have an open mind. They likely come from the upper middle class with disposable income and do not think that luxury products should be restricted to just the upper class. They may enjoy luxury products enough to make them a regular part of their lifestyle. The "democratisation of luxury" refers to this group, which pursues brands perceived to have high prestige, but at reasonable prices.
Luxury nibblers are people who may appreciate luxury but either cannot afford higher premium products or live outside of the cultural paradigm that associates prestige with luxury products. They tend to nibble on luxury products during the holidays or special events. Many of these consumers are young with minimal savings, but are in a position to make occasional big purchases due to a well-paying job. Like the regulars, they tend to view luxury items as a self-reward instead of a social badge.
How Cultural Trends Boost Luxury Brands
The market for luxury brands has expanded in the new century for multiple reasons, particularly due to globalisation. Its effects can be felt from online shopping, which connects people with the entire planet and international travel. Here are other cultural trends that have helped elevate luxury brands:
- cultural convergence and diversification
- steady growth of wealthy consumers
- emerging new markets
- increasing attention in the media
- wider acceptance of aesthetic value
The six major regions where luxury brands have enjoyed success in the age of globalisation have been Europe, North America, Japan, China, India and Russia. The way luxury brands are perceived, however, varies with different regions, based on social, economic and cultural forces.
The consumer-centric paradigm has evolved in recent decades while researchers have had to revise their thinking on the appeal of luxury brands. Traditional theories from a century ago by researchers such as Veblen, pointed to luxury products as "conspicuous consumption," to show off social status. But social, economic and cultural changes point to more diverse reasons why consumers of various classes have developed a growing appreciation for high quality luxury brands.
The postings in this blog section do not necessarily represent Desjardin's positions, strategies or opinions.
References and Further Reading
- Luxury branding: the industry, trends and future conceptualisations (2015), by Yuri Seo and Margo Buchanan-Oliver
- Food packaging: The medium is the message (2010), by Corinna Hawkes
- More articles on Chocolates , Biscuits and Confectionery packaging, by Alex Cosper and Dawn M. Turner
- Multisensory design: Reaching out to touch the consumer (2011) by Charles Spence and Alberto Gallace
- Assessing the influence of the color of the plate on 2 the perception of a complex food in a restaurant setting (2013), by Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, Agnes Giboreau and Charles Spence
- Does the weight of the dish influence our perception of food? (2011), by Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, Vanessa Harrar, Jorge Alcaide and Charles Spence
- The weight of the container influences expected satiety, perceived density and subsequent expected fullness (2011), by
Betina Piqueras-Fiszman and Charles Spence