The new-age luxury consumer – by Atteline’s Stephanie Dafeta

Junior account manager at Atteline, Stephanie Dafeta, writes on redefining luxury brand experiences in the new age of shifting consumer habits

Luxury has always been about exclusivity, whether in reference to price point, craftsmanship, a sign of wealth and success, or even availability; a phenomenon that not everyone could have. And whilst it’s often used to define or influence the perception about oneself, the crux is that luxury is less about people’s needs and more about people’s desires. With that being said, for the longest time, the luxury sector has seemed largely untouched by shifting consumer habits, but this may not be the case anymore. We are witnessing a paradigm shift, and much like previous events of cultural, social and economic change, the post-COVID-19 era has brought forth new consumer values which hinge on self-actualisation, well-being and a thirst for knowledge above materialism. In a 2018 Highsnobiety study conducted amongst Gen Y and Z luxury consumers, it was found that 85 per cent believe that what their clothes represent is just as important as their quality or design, and only 6 per cent purchase products as a direct expression of wealth.

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Today, the term “luxury” appears much more dynamic and is undergoing a transformation, creating a space where individuals define their own symbols of status, rather than have it defined for them. Thus, legacy brands and newcomers alike cannot rely on mere prestige but must create one-of-a-kind brand experiences. Find the point where your consumers’ needs and wants intersect and this will see brands give their offerings a refresh so that they are both relevant to the consumer and connect with their aspirations.

At Atteline, we have long championed the innovative retail landscape which places stock in purpose-led experiences and consumer-centricity – this is how brands should connect with their consumers. From building brand relevance through genuine connections to devising modern narratives for brands whose essence is steeped in heritage and history, such as our work with French luxury perfume house, Parfums de Marly, these are the three ways we ensure that our clients are able to redefine themselves in this time of ever-changing consumer expectations, without losing their brand identity. 

Forge authentic connections through the power of storytelling 

Storytelling is nothing new. Stories are illustrative and easy to remember, hence the bread and butter of our work in PR. We’ve found that people want to connect to traditions that make them feel grounded, especially in the always-moving, fast-paced world of today. And whilst heritage brands usually have an edge here through their deep-rooted stories, newcomers can still benefit from authentic storytelling – through narratives that detail their origin, their mission, vision and even accounts from people and places that have been impacted by them.

Also making a way for brands to engage existing and potential customers is the move toward digital media. With social media, a hub for inspiration and engagement, and the emergence of influencer and social media marketing, luxury brands can steer themselves towards more collaborative strategies and content partnerships that will allow consumers to connect with brands through the lens of profiles they admire. 

Understand that there is no one single “stereotypical” luxury consumer anymore

Today’s luxury consumer varies by occasion and category. See, whilst brand love held much weight historically amongst its target audience, with this current trend of transformation, luxury cannot be solely reflected through the values of the brands who set the standard. More and more brands have found that in order to penetrate this new luxury market, they must reflect the values that their target audiences now hold supreme and not the other way around. 

Consumers, particularly the millennials and Gen Z’s are very intentional when it comes to curating their luxurious elements – they might choose to forego a pair of designer jeans to instead, invest in high-end skincare, as self-care might hold more of a stake to them. With this in mind, luxury brands must remember that to truly connect with their consumers, and build on their loyalty, they must tap into the newfound curational savvy that sees them looking to make their lives distinct works of art.

It’s not just about “show and tell”, create multi-sensory experiences 

In this new era of luxury, a personalised brand experience is just as important, if not more so, as the product offering. These can be anything from designing unique in-store experiences with our fashion and beauty retail clients, connecting with our consumers through exquisite collection debuts, music, talks from industry experts and more to elevating the e-commerce shopping experience through beautiful photography and content, to name a few. These unique touch points are vital to better understanding your consumer and these unforgettable experiences will be the key to a brand’s success and relevance in such a competitive sector.

One such example is how Apple has fostered energy and creativity at its stores, both physical and online, through the “Today at Apple” program, which educates and inspires customers to go further with their passions and the products they love.

The luxury market is dynamic, and now faced with a re-alignment of habits and aesthetics, coupled with the growing generation of value-driven consumers, luxury brands must reassess their business models, to ensure brand loyalty and equity during this paradigm shift. These three tactics have proved to be the key to helping our clients redefine the luxury experience, so they can bridge the gap between themselves and the new-age luxury consumer.