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Rarity is key to luxury

News, 09 December 2015

NEW YORK: The luxury category is being pulled in different directions by changing consumer expectations but rarity remains a common feature according to a new report.

"The expression of luxury seems to change continuously as the cultural context around it evolves," Nadia Tuma, senior vice president and director of Truth Central, McCann Worldgroup's global thought leadership unit, told Luxury Daily.

"Classic values like heritage, craftsmanship and price are still important indicators of luxury," she added, but these failed to adequately encompass a modern definition.

"For instance, a new mother may consider a manicure once a week a profound luxury, and while technology like the Apple Watch is undoubtedly a well-crafted piece, with a noteworthy price tag, heritage is not a central component to its brand story."

She explained that a new report from the agency's Tastemakers Council initiative – a select group of innovators and influencers in the luxury space meeting to spend an evening discussing the cultural questions facing the category – had honed in on the concept of rarity.

"We believe rarity is at the core of luxury, particularly as an age of overabundance invades our daily lives," she said. "It is indeed the rare that has the true power to deliver enduring luxury. That rarity can be a personal rarity, a cultural rarity or more traditional notions like resource or manufactured rarity."

The report also highlighted the different expectations consumers now have of luxury products.

An "old guard" is becoming more interested in experiences than things, but when they do buy things they tend to be interested in beauty and craftsmanship. A group classified as "progressives" consider what a brand does to express their personal values.

But even that division may be too binary, as Tuma remarked that people were becoming "multi-dimensional" and looking to brands to mirror their lifestyles.

"In the midst of this 'new ecosystem', where art competes with travel competes with philanthropy competes with apparel for the same dollar spent, affluent individuals are looking for a curated and holistic philosophy from brands to inspire them," she suggested.

But few brands are capable of delivering this on their own, hence a rise in luxury partnerships. In this way "luxury brands are able to protect their essence and create meta-brands, regaining some of the exclusivity that is such a rare commodity in modern luxury," said Tuma.

Data sourced from Luxury Daily; additional content by Warc staff