Luxuries used to be consumables. People would buy thinks that conspicuously displayed their status.
Luxuries can still be consumables today, but people are switching to experiential luxuries – the LVMH purchase of Belmond is a recognition of that fact.
There is no set definition of luxury. What is luxurious can be redefined – not just brands, but market sectors. The LVMH purchase is smart, but it is not enough to save them long term – they need more than a hotel chain to keep growing.
What I notice with this is that people are seeing unique experiences – a weekend away from their daily lives, for example – as the luxury to be consumed. In other words, they’re consuming something that is different than what they have every day.
I think the next phase of luxury will be the consumption of experiential items – everyday items that, while they might be luxurious in their own right, also offer experiences that might change day-to-day or year-to-year. People used to see an option of buying a cheap, unfinished IKEA pine chair or a comparatively expensive Wegner; then they forgot about chairs and decided a trip to Iceland would look better on Instagram. The next round of luxurious consumption will be the purchase of a chair, probably expensive but perhaps not, that will offer both provenance and heritage as well as change over the years as a user interacts with it in their daily life. Rather than see the choice between a pleather jacket and a mink coat, then deciding instead to get selfies on a sled ride in the Siberian tundra, people will go to a tannery, pick the leather, design the jacket, and then wear it for years, seeing the change as they oil it themselves. These experiences will be the USP.
This requires a daily mindfulness and appreciation of small things. That’s part of the core of the Hipster ethos, and part of what makes Hipsters such derided figures – they threaten daily life for non-hipsters because they are cultivating an appreciation for the day-to-day, and they are making an effort to turn their lives into unique experiences. That is uncomfortable for people who see their lives as drudgery.
The questions now: What to do, and how to scale???