Name a luxury brand, and there will be one “better”. There was a question about the “hierarchy of luxury brands” on one of my groups. It’s an interesting thought – what do you aspire to if you can afford everything? The point of aspiration is that you can’t have it.
Read to the end to discover what is the essence of true luxury. Yes, that’s a hat-tip to BuzzFeed as their News channel shuts down.
Is McDonald’s a luxury brand?
I asked the in-house youth marketing expert (a.k.a the teen daughter) what she considers are luxury brands for the rich and famous. She said Starbucks and McDonald’s – because even the super rich don’t mind being seen there. Warren Buffett has famously been living on McD’s breakfasts for nearly a century, and Janhvi Kapoor merrily posts photos of herself with a Starbucks cup. I have written about Cardi B and Offset selling their McDonald’s date night bundles.
Going back to the theme of aspiration, the super-rich aspire to do some things like “normal people”.
Make your brand so reliable and useful that it becomes a luxury for some and a habit for others.
The hierarchy of luxury things
Sometimes a luxury object is a short cut way to flash that you have money. You see the LV logo and you know that whatever it adorns is expensive. If you’ve crossed the point where you have tell people you’re rich, then you can move on to the more subtle super expensive brands or to super expensive bespoke.
And of course buy things that are rare. It doesn’t have to be a Picasso – it could be a limited edition anime t-shirt or beanie-boo.
Gambling – whether in a casino or as an investor (sorry, couldn’t resist!) is another way to cue that you have so much money you can afford to lose a chunk of it.
In my book I talk about how a 50p sachet of branded tea can be a luxury for a daily wager. Luxury things are about what is aspirational to your audience and the cues that are understood by their eco-system.
In every category there is a “luxury” brand. This brand reaps a premium. Is it possible for your brand to occupy this space?
Other people’s time – the ultimate luxury
Time is finite for you and for everyone else. So if you have to commit one hour to working out, wouldn’t it be awesome to have an hour of a really famous person to commit one hour of their time to work out with you? Or if you could buy a day of Shah Rukh Khan to adorn your wedding? And if you’re really rich, like Mrs Ambani, you could get Priyanka Chopra, Shah Rukh Khan, Tom Holland and Gigi Hadid to hang out with you at a palatial custom built theatre.
You might think you’re not into luxury, but of course you’d want the best surgeon you could afford for a heart operation, or the best coach or career counsellor or tutor for your kids. You might want an Oberoi or Leela chef to cook your humble vegetarian meals. Or you might bid $19 million for a steak lunch with Warren Buffett.
Lesser mortals make do with “time-sharing” – we are ok to go to a famous chef’s restaurant, or attend an event where Billie Eilish sings for us along with a few thousand others.
This is the root of celebrity culture – we all want a piece of someone’s life.
Brands do too. How else do we explain a product like the water brand, Liquid Death’s “Enema of the State Collectible Kit” headlining Travis Barker? Liquid Death was founded by a former adman which makes me root for them to succeed – it has a $700 million valuation and investors like Swedish House Mafia (refer my note above on gambling). Celebrities also monetize themselves for the time share market launching brands that they endorse.
B2B brands attract customers to their events by paying for celebrities – and Gartner analysts – to spend time with them. During my years marketing for Infosys, iGate and Wipro I was privileged to meet with Malcolm Gladwell, Nassim Taleb, Larry Summers, Bob Dole – all speakers at our customer forums.
How can you “market” your inhouse celebrities’ time better? Can you get your customers more access to the celebrities that endorse your brand? Is there a way to sell – and consume – your time in a more worthy way?
The opposite of a celebrity is a mediocrity. These are the ones who will be most impacted by AI. A celebrity’s time – being rare – will continue to be in demand. If you’re already a celebrity the article above will give you tips on how to grow your market.