Thought Pieces

The lexicon of luxury is defunct.

By 27th May 2017 No Comments

These days, you can see the word ‘luxury’ wherever you look – which makes it all the more difficult to position premium and luxury brands.

Without a simple signpost to rely on, brands that truly represent premium materials, craftsmanship and style need to find new ways to express what they stand for. In a world where you can buy ‘luxury’ chocolates from a garage and ‘luxury’ toilet roll in the supermarket, authentic premium and luxury brands have no choice but to forge a new path.

The declining power of the well-trodden luxury lexicon is being exacerbated by a changing set of motivations of the next generation of consumers. Labels and a long and illustrious heritage are no longer enough to tempt this savvy consumer across the line.

Becoming relevant to the consumer’s life is an important part of what could be seen as a new ‘identity’ trend: i.e. consumers are using the brands they associate with to express their own beliefs and identity. (Nothing new there you say.) But this is no longer simply the branding on the product; it’s the perceived behaviour of that brand out in-the-wilds of the world. Makes you think doesn’t it.

Finisterre, a premium surf brand that launched in the UK, offers cold water surf clothing and gear. If you’re into surfing in cold water (no time to explore that one) then it makes complete sense to buy from a specialist brand. However, Finisterre’s perceived success has been resonating with a millennial audience; one engaging far beyond the literal product. An active social media programme, a social-café-based retail concept, thought-leading speakers, ambassadors, and active CSR programmes about environmental issues all bring the brand to life – and make it more appealing to the modern millennial consumer.

This is a belief shared by Frédéric Cumenal, Chief Executive of US luxury jewellery retailer Tiffany. He points out that “meaning is of critical importance to the contemporary customer… Status no longer comes from just the image or price of an object, but from its association and values”*.

So what’s the new luxury lexicon? A relentlessly consistent tone-of-voice, visual language and behaviours that express a brand’s personality and character through the entire relationship with its consumer. It’s tougher than waving and shouting ‘Hey we’re a luxury brand!’, but we believe it is more fulfilling and more effective.

Developing this lexicon for Bentley meant creating a brand idea that transcends the need to use the word luxury. We captured a shared belief and characteristic of the marque and their customers – past, present and future: ‘Be Extraordinary’. And we’re executing it in ‘non-traditional’ experience-led ways. Read more here.

*Source Stylus Report Hijacking Heritage, 7th May, 2015, Hayley Ard