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EMOTIONS NEW LUXURY VALUE #11

In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different – Coco Chanel

Luxury is a language, a journey, an emotional connection that elevates us. In short, it makes us feel alive. The edge that luxury brands have over other brands is its ability to trigger a higher level of emotional engagement in its audience.

When someone purchases a product from a beloved brand they aren’t just buying a bag or pair of shoes – they are investing in a story, a statement, an expectation, and indeed a deep and complex romance that surpasses the fairy-tale.

Luxury brands know this, the man behind Ralph Lauren says so himself, “I create a world beyond fashion. I want to conjure a feeling of romance and a vintage glamour. This is how fashion becomes timeless and tradition becomes forever.”

Living Up To Heightened Expectations

Today’s luxury consumer remains enchanted, but they have evolved with the changing times. Today’s consumer is highly connected and informed. They are multi-faceted and driven by both emotion and purpose. They seek seamless experiences and they don’t have the time nor the patience for inauthentic encounters. Today’s consumer has higher expectations from brands.

In an article for Forbes on why Luxury Brands are Different, Robert Passikoff notes; ‘Over the years Brand Keys has observed that luxury goods have precisely the same engagement drivers as regular goods competing in the same category. The difference is that consumers hold higher expectations for those engagement drivers when it comes to luxury goods. Held to a higher standard, if you will.’

The allure of luxury is said to be psychological. Everyone knows that it’s a competitive marketplace and if you want to find something cheaper, you normally can. But like Psychology Today notes; Neuroscience tells us that the emotions associated with our judgments guide us in making decisions. Emotions and feelings are components of rationality in that they reveal what is important to us. For example, we can be emotionally drawn to good design, and then rationally decide whether the exceptional qualities of luxury design are worth the additional price versus the ‘good enough’ qualities of a mass market alternative.

Roxy Génier - New Luxury - Luxury must link our inner and outer realities

Sales and the Concept of Self

Buying habits help us with a perceived sense of self. The brands we choose to invest in become a mirror that reflects our own dreams, desires, and human development back to us. When it comes to luxury we seek out brands that extend a hand and welcome us into their wonderful universe. We want to equally belong and stand out in a certain world, and we aspire to be a part of something that we see reflected in a brand. The same article for Psychology Today goes on to say; ‘Our concept of self is in a constant state of regeneration. Because luxury products have the power to change the consumer’s perception of who they are by altering the self, they deliver desired emotional end-benefits, including self-esteem and hedonic feelings such as satisfaction and power.’

For the highly affluent consumer, this relationship is a little different. Its less about aspirational buying habits and finding a sense of self and more about feeding a positive thought cycle. For those who immerse themselves in luxury everyday they choose brands that evoke safety net feelings of trust, authenticity, and intimacy. This gauntlet runs so much deeper than just turning heads with high-class labels, its more about investing in ease, confidence, and contentment.

A Life Partner Not a Product

An interesting study from Yale tells us that the quest for authenticity starts at a young age. The study outlined in this article from Investopedia tells us; Researchers at Yale have determined that this quest for authenticity develops early in childhood. A study that tried to convince children that a cloning machine had produced their favorite item found that most children refused to accept the duplicate as identical. It turns out that the sentimentality of the item – the memory or pride or feeling that comes from having purchased a genuine luxury good – is part of the reason that we seek authenticity. 

Emotional marketing has been proven to positively impact buyers. Apple are a prime example of this; they aren’t a brand that had years of heritage beneath their belt, but they emotionally cultivated a lifestyle around their name. They have a near perfect emotional montage mix that anchors their name and makes them more of a life partner than a product.

Emotional connections take an understanding of your audience and the shift in today’s landscape to be the first step. We need to start seeing products as experiences, consumers as people, functionality as feeling, and swapping out being known for being loved.

In this piece from the Huffington Post on emotional branding it can be summed up in a simple sentence The bottom line is, you want to know what matters to THEM. From their perspective, not yours. For example, one of my coaching clients is in the business of luxury travel. A wealthy woman herself, she happens to be her market so she understands the affluent market extremely well. She said to me once, ‘You can give us 30% off, bonuses, etc. and it will mean nothing. Give us free water and a lounge and you’ve got us hooked.”

The difference is – you give someone a 30% off voucher and you are treating them like a buyer with nothing but a bank book. You give them a glass of water and a comfortable seat and you are treating them like a real living person, appealing to their human senses of getting thirsty and having tired feet. It’s a small gesture, but it makes a world of difference, and forms an emotional connection built on the ability for a brand to see who is standing in front of them rather than a spreadsheet of numbers.

Roxy Génier - New Luxury Values - Emotions

Turning Stores into Temples

Physical encounters are easier to nurture when considering emotions and luxury marketing. Going that extra mile when someone sets foot in your store immediately creates a bond. Like Thuy T. Tranthi the president of Thomas Pink USA notes when talking about approving every sales hire for all of her stores in this piece on Luxury Isn’t What It Used to Be; “It is the most critical position in the company. They mediate the interaction between the customer and the product. If that mediation is not an excellent one, the entire brand suffers from it.”

Making the brick and mortar aspect of your brand should be revered like a temple. Think outside of the box and turn your store into so much more than a flatpack shopping experience. Galleries, exhibitions, event spaces, screenings, dinners, fashion shows– you can transform a store into an innovative space that lives and breathes brand experiences for those who enter.

Binding Your Brand in Ritual

The same can be said for the products; bind your pieces in ritual and you encapsulate an audience forever. Brand ritual is a heady and powerful emotional tool you can utilize across your marketing platforms. It can be as simple as something like Corona beer with a slice of lime, or as complex as Le Labo hand-blending and decanting their personalized perfumes in front of the buyer every time. This is how you take a bite out of Apples playbook and become a life partner and not just a product.

Another integral part of building emotion into your brand is the art of storytelling. Luxury has forever been wrapped in the silk of mythology and tied with the fairytale bow. While today’s market will still succumb to a taste of that, the roots need to run much deeper. Brands should approach their storytelling much like a writer approaches a novel, those same rules apply – show don’t tell, avoid clichés, kill your darlings, take the reader on a heroes journey, invoke character, and use sensory emotion to connect.

In an interview for Forbes with Maria Doulton she reiterates the importance of weaving in that human element to the brand in order to form an emotional connection; ‘If we know the thought process, the inspiration, the philosophy of the creator, we can more fully engage with the product. Just think, although we didn’t need to meet Steve Jobs to know that his products were good, we were all fascinated with Steve Jobs and wanted to know more.’

Invoking Emotional Intelligence

Luxury should make an emotional attachment with its buyer and not just a fickle one. Surface connections leave people feeling empty and part of the reason people turn to luxury goods is to invoke the pure pleasure of retail therapy. They deserve the experience to run deep and for the emotional encounter to matter to us as much as it does to them. New luxury is about paying homage to emotional intelligence and nurturing those connections that grace us with better self-esteem, belonging, and a timeless beauty.

Emotions is a New Luxury value. Now, let’s explore the next luxury anti-value.

Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-Value - Self Love
SELF-LOVE