Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-Value - Fairy Tales

FAIRY TALES LUXURY ANTI-VALUE #7

Women are not dolls for luxury brands to put on display.

The #me too movement has shaken sleeping beauty from her slumber. In a time when a chorus of female voices are rising, and women are saying ‘no more’ to the pressures of patriarchy, the luxury industry must shake off the shackles of sexism too.

It’s a story we all know too well. The image of a silver-haired fox and his young golden girl sprawled on a yacht, whimsical perfumed maidens running through the streets of Paris seeking their prince, dreams of Tiffany diamonds beneath the Christmas tree, all while the men are riding Harleys and Porches into the sunset.

While superyachts, pricey perfumes, and diamonds are all highly sought after; it’s the narrative that needs to change. In many luxury marketing campaigns, women are slotted into the category of a thing with mystical quality, something to be desired, and put on show.

Let Women Lean In

But, we are not doll’s or trophies, we are consumers. Statistics show that females are leading consumerism and in a time when all eyes are turned towards gender politics and women are finally taking space to lean in, those brands who cannot adapt to our brave new world, will be drowned out by the demand of more equal treatment in advertising.

Once upon a time, perhaps women of luxury relied on their husband’s credit card to make a purchase. But this chapter of history is now behind us, and women no longer want to be the supporting role in these male-centric fairy-tales. They want the lead in their own stories.

Roxy Génier - New Luxury - Luxury must define the way we experience our world

Purchasing Power

Look to today’s modern culture and see what new fairy-tales are resonating with women. Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City buying her own expensive shoes, Beyoncé putting out her siren call to all the independent ladies, and Stella McCartney buying back full control of her own business.

Women wear a million hats in our society and take on a variety of roles -from business women to thought leaders, friends, companions, wives, and mothers. On top of all those amazing achievements they also find time to make 80 percent of all consumer purchases.

That number is huge.

Another aspect to consider is that women are more often a member of a community. They are more likely to talk to their friends and recommend a product. If as a brand you can appeal to today’s strong modern woman, you have every chance of earning the trust and respect of a loyal long-term consumer who won’t be shy about spreading the word.

It’s Time to Shatter Stereotypes

Unfortunately, brands so far aren’t hitting the mark when it comes to connecting with their female audience. A staggering 91 percent of women polled in a Chicago survey shared disappointment in feeling that brands just didn’t understand their needs.

Female consumers don’t need to be condescended to. Women are looking towards brands to lift them up, tap into their strengths, and deliver a problem-solving solution. They want brands to recognize that when they choose to indulge it’s for them, not to win the adoration of a man.

This is truly just the tip of the iceberg.

Sheryl Sandburg, author of Lean In, explains ‘brands have immense power to shatter stereotypes and overturn clichés…[it] isn’t just about changing culture for the better – it’s about the bottom line. There is a business for gender equality in advertising, and the outcome is clear.’

Follow the thread and the trail of luxury marketing will often take you back to a source of white heterosexual male providing the plastic for his pretty wife to make purchases. The truth is there are buyers from all age ranges, ethnicities, genders, and body types whose purchasing power is not being tapped into.

Women want luxury brands to recognize that when they choose to indulge it’s for them, not to win the adoration of a man.

Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-values - Fairy Tales

A Plus Sized Problem

While the rest of the fashion industry has been lending an ear to providing plus size apparel, the luxury industry is still very much stuck in the mud on this one.

In an article titled Luxury Has Got to Get Over Its Problem with Plus Size, Katie Smith points out that just 0.01% of all premium and luxury apparel identifies as plus size.

In an industry that is all about paving the way, setting trends, and breaking boundaries – how has luxury been so off the bat with this?

In his article for Fashionista, Tyler McCall points out that it may just be good old fashioned snobbery, as he passes on an anecdote of Prabel Gurung being scoffed at after his announcement to partner with plus-size brand Lane Bryant.

But people are waking up to the fact that representation matters; brands that stick to the same old propaganda of living in a world full of size zero people are going to get left behind. Not only are brands cutting out a whole swath of customers, but they are leaving plus size people at the mercy of fast fashion, which is a huge problem for our planet.

Fairy Tales or Tall Tales?

Even away from the tone-deaf issue of brands not being more inclusive with these fairy-tales, there is another simply systemic problem. Fairy-tales or tall tales?

Fairy-tales in marketing can be a way of creatively dressing up pure fabrication. This is a sticky subject in today’s world where people are craving to dismantle the foundations of fake news, fake reviews, and blood boiling click bait campaigns. The modern consumer is getting cranky when it comes to those blurred lines between editorial and advertorial. Mistrust is rising and simply put – consumers are burnt out from this.

Luxury is built on the idea of uniqueness, authenticity, and heritage. But sometimes, it seems that these heritage tales are thin as the first frost. Marketing campaigns come across as tepid and generic – of all the perfume adverts we see, could you really pick any of them out from the crowd?

This article from the Guardian sums it up beautifully.

Today’s luxury stories pale in comparison to their own past. Often squeezed under the “brand world” links on company websites, given a nod in the company’s logo, haphazardly translated into product imagery on brands’ social channels or not acknowledged at all in retail boutiques, they feel as irrelevant as the last year’s It girl.

Then, there are those fabricated heritage stories like Ted Baker.

Ted Baker was actually founded by the elusive Ray Kelvin. In Ted Bakers history they talk about this magnetic man Ted Baker, the hero behind the brand, the North London boy who knows how to cast his line, sip a drink alongside Hemmingway, and dazzle royal princesses.

But Ted doesn’t exist.

He is a marketing ploy, a phantom, and while it may be all fun and games – we live in a time when people want truth and like Kelvin says, ‘The moment I come out, this will be ruined’. Do brands really want to hang their billion-dollar businesses on a ghost?

It can be tricky for brand new brands to play on the side of heritage. Of course, consumers love stories, but it’s a balancing act – trust in brands is eroding away so how do we tap into that innate idea of the heroes journey without full on fabrication?

This is truly just the tip of the iceberg. Our world has forever changed.

Luxury as a Mere Marketing Ploy

Even beyond the fashion industry; fairy-tales have seeped into travel marketing – often perpetuated by the pastel shades of Instagram and copywriting that doesn’t flinch at throwing words like luxury around. Today’s market simply doesn’t see things the same way as yesterdays, those traditional methods aren’t going to work as well.

As Danziger notes in their latest report “Wealth Wave: The Millennials & Their Luxury Aspirations” it states that the “millennial generation is skeptical of luxury brands… This generation of well-educated young people, there is a real danger that luxury is going to be perceived simply as a marketing concept… not something that has real meaning or resonance to their lives.”

Be Beautiful, Bold and Groundbreaking

There is a real risk of luxury being seen as little more than a marketing ploy with every step we take into the future. It’s time to keep a hold of those heritage stories, but to swap out the book.

Any Pulitzer prize winner will tell you to write from what you know, take a pinch of truth, and turn it into something beautiful, bold and groundbreaking.

We are entering groundbreaking times – a time when inclusivity is on the cards which is a wonderful thing for society. Let’s start to entwine the power of changing times in with our unique heritage histories.

Let’s start to seek out our relevance in the modern world, let’s start to inspire again.

Now that we have  learned about the dangers of fairy tales, let’s explore the solution.

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