The Definition Of Luxury Is Expanding And Changing

In the past, the word luxury meant the highest quality products, the highest status and great in-store experiences. That definition is still true and there are many consumers for whom that will always be the only definition of luxury. But consumers are changing, retail is changing and the very definition of what luxury means is changing for a lot of consumers, especially younger ones. Now there are other values that mean luxury to consumers but don’t fit the traditional definition of the word.

At a recent conference in Los Angeles called Innocos (derived from Innovation in Cosmetics), a futurist named Jared Weiner of The Future Hunters talked about what he called the “Three T’s” and a new, expanded, definition of luxury. It’s not to say that the old definitions don’t apply, it’s that other ways of looking at the definition of luxury are now also relevant for a lot of consumers. What’s important in this new definition is that brands selling in this new way can compete effectively with brands that are offering the traditional definition of luxury. Brands that are effective at selling luxury know that when it’s done right, there’s no need to discount. That makes the expanded definition of luxury impactful and important for brands and retailers.

Weiner says the “three T’s” of luxury now are: Time, Truth and Trust. Time is of course the scarcest resource, the one thing we can never have more of. Post-pandemic, Weiner believes that consumers may want to use their time differently than before, having had the opportunity to re-evaluate their priorities while they were shut down or isolated. Using consumers’ time effectively has always been an issue for retailers. Luxury consumers’ time is the most valuable of all and helping them make the shopping experience convenient and easy makes it more likely they’ll come back.

But the other two, Truth and Trust, are new. Weiner believes they are highly relevant to what brands and retailers need to offer to satisfy consumers now. While he talks about truth in a political way and how each person’s truth is now more varied than ever, truth as it relates to brands is about personalization, making a business’ products more relevant, or true, to each consumer and the truth they believe, their personal values and how they want to present themselves. Wayne Liu, SVP of Perfect Corp., who also presented at the Innocos conference, showed that consumers stayed on retailers’ sites that were personalized for 50% more time and were 20% more likely to make a purchase when the site was personalized to their interests. According to Liu, personalization that is relevant to a customer, what Weiner would call their individual truth, causes them to go from searching for a product the way they do on Amazon, to browsing and exploring, more like what a consumer does in an interesting store. Investors get that; so far in 2021, there have been 146 deals in the beauty business and almost two-thirds of those were related to personalization. That personalization, or individual truth, is becoming more important every day.

And trust. Who you trust, while also a political question, relates to brands and retailers and particularly to influencers. Influencers who are viewed as authentic, whether they are personal friends or megastars, have become critical to how brands are marketed.

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Weiner says that when you give consumers an experience that saves them time, gives them what they want that’s particular to them and information that they trust from a source they want to associate with, you’ve created a luxury experience for them, regardless of where and what you’re selling. That’s the expansion and redefinition of luxury that he talks about; for the right consumer, it’s a powerful lure to more purchases.

These three things, Time, Truth and Trust, are more scarce now than ever. If brands can give their customers better use of their time, more personalized products and service and relevant personal recommendations from people whose values consumers share, then that is a luxury experience that can’t be beat. That’s the kind of retail that doesn’t have to discount prices to sell its products and an important component of future retail success.

The Tycoon Herald