Waste - Luxury Anti-Value #1

Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-Value - Waste




The True Ethos Behind Luxury Is Longevity; Buy It Once And It Lasts Forever.

In the summer of 2018, Burberry came under fire for burning millions of dollars’ worth of leftover seasonal stock.

They said it was to protect their brand and also that the energy captured from the fire was renewable so, therefore, environmentally friendly.

In short, they missed the point.

The world went wild, and Burberry suffered a huge PR backlash. As a result, they promised, no more fires. While it’s a victory to know that social pressure can make huge brands turn corners, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Co-founder of the UK-based Fashion Revolution, Orsola de Castro hints that the problem doesn’t stop there“For every Burberry, there’s hundreds of other brands doing exactly the same at several points in their fashion supply chains.”

A World of Churn and Burn

Burberry aren’t the only major players making headlines; Chanel and Louis Vuitton are also accused of slashing stock and Richemont bought back close to 500 million dollars of their own watches to be dismantled.

While there is an argument that luxury brands need to protect their stock from ending up cheapened on the grey market, at what cost?

Luxury brands haven’t embraced sustainability, and in a world of churn and burn, this spells out disaster for our planet.

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Waste is Lazy Creativity

Burberry and those other big brands guilty of billionaire bonfires stress that they need to destroy old stock to protect their brand. They cannot donate the stock or sell it off at a lesser price, as this would cheapen their whole name and go against the grain of exclusivity.

But simply resorting to a syndrome of slash and burn is lazy creativity. This is a long game brand – not some fad, fade and die fashion name. Burberry could have just as easily safeguarded their stock for a decade or two and then sell them on as original vintage pieces.

They could have recycled their wares into next years line; they could have found a way to repurpose their stock, or even curated a program where they partner with up and coming designers who are able to turn this unwanted stock into something dazzling, defying and new.

To simply set fire to the lot, is obnoxious at worst and unimaginative at best.

Feeding an Insatiable Hunger

Waste is very much a problem of the privileged. In less developed countries, there isn’t the same purchasing power, which means that goods are reused over and over again until they disintegrate to nothing.

In the west we seem to have an insatiable hunger for newness; and this is contributing to the boom of fast fashion. One of the biggest culprits and active contributors to the worlds waste problem.

In an article for The Guardian, Kirsten Brodde from the Detox My Fashion campaign said: “Because fashion is a high-volume business with more than 100bn garments produced each year, consumers’ closets are already overflowing with unworn clothes, creating an overstock problem for many companies. It’s high time for the whole fashion industry to start dealing with overstock at its source: by slowing down production and rethinking the way it does business.”

Waste is very much a problem of the privileged.

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A Frenzy of Fast Fashion

It’s a staggering reality that fashion is snapping at the heels of the fossil fuel industry when it comes to being the biggest polluter of our planet.

Fast production of cheaper clothes means mass crops, synthetic fibers, and heaps of used clothes in landfills when the next seasonal trend comes along or when the garment shows speedy signs of wear and tear.

These cloth cut landfills are sprouting up at the speed of light across the globe, and from production to disbarment they are polluting our air, our water, and our soil. We are in an era of consume, consume, consume – in the past two decades alone, America has seen a 500 percent increase in clothing consumption and every year the world collectively consumes over 80 million items of clothing.

The environment cannot keep up with this demand, mass consumption will eventually lead to deforestation, dirty soil, soaring greenhouse gasses, and polluted water sources.

By encouraging an insatiable hunger to consume we are gambling our most precious collective asset – our planet

Speedy Sell By Dates

Technology too is moving just as fast as the seasonally changing fashion trends. Every few months a shiny new smart phone hits the shelves as the ultimate status symbol.

Even beyond status, technology is created to have a quick sell by date so that consumers line up to grab the latest model. Afterall, the average phone life is just two years.

The UN warned that electronic junk like discarded laptops and phones had grown a swift 8% over the last two years and that in 2016 there was enough electronic waste that it would weigh the equivalent of 4500 Eiffel Towers.

Not only are we having to find places to stash this waste, but this is waste filled with potentially dangerous substances that will seep into our earth.

A Message of Obsolescence

It’s easy to place the blame on the consumer, but that wouldn’t be taking responsibility for our own actions as luxury brands. Because we are the ones pushing this narrative.

We are the ones selling the message of fast luxurywe are the ones creating products with a limited lifespan, and we are the ones delivering a feeling of obsolescence.

In a thesis by Daniel Keeble titled The Culture of Planned Obsolescence in Technology Companies, the author says;

Planned obsolescence was created to increase wealth and enforce a capitalist approach. But there is a downside too. The environment has become an issue that is hard to ignore, and one that has to be addressed if products such as phones and TV are to be discarded so readily.

Companies are ultimately responsible for creating a change. EWaste, today is excessive, but if the products were made with environmentally friendly materials or had materials that could be reused, then there are no reason why this manor of purchasing couldn’t continue.

The waste would either become a second-degree commodity with value of its own or alternatively become a safe, environmentally friendly, waste product. Unfortunately, little has been done to boost this idea, as dealing with the waste is not a profitable business, as yet.

If consumerism is to continue its growth, but the environmental issues to take a positive turn for the better, then things have to change.

Of course, luxury brands need to nurture desire for the next big thing in order to keep their sales ticking. But there are larger stakes on the table –and by encouraging an insatiable hunger to consume we are gambling our most precious collective asset – our planet.

Throwaway Food Culture

Beyond the trim of fast fashion, other avenues of luxury are also contributing to the swift downfall of our environment.

The food industry is also under the spotlight for the extortionately high levels of waste.

Lavish hotels are famed for inviting guests to kick back and unwind, in a carefully cultivated world where everything is fully taken care of – including endless access limitless menus of crafted cocktails, beautiful buffets, and dizzying array of food. As hotels can’t count on how much each individual will eat this often leads to a wild amount of food waste.

An article published in Eco Business on the Unseen Scandal of Hotel Food Waste pointed out the following logistics;

The dinner buffet at Edge, the all-day dining restaurant at Pan Pacific Singapore, is refreshed every two hours to cater to the continuous stream of customers.

Singapore’s National Environment Agency regulations stipulate that food cannot be kept on hold for more than four hours at a certain temperature, says Michele Greggio, executive chef of Pan Pacific Singapore. “But to be safer and ensure we are providing the freshest food possible, we have a two-hour standard, which is in the middle of service.” 

On average each guest contributes 1kg of waste per night and 25% of all food that passes through a kitchen is lost to waste. When you do a quick mind scan of all the hotels and rooms filled with guests every night, all the restaurants and dining rooms in the world – those numbers quickly start to mount up.

Luxury brands like Sofitel and Pullman report to tossing out 27 tons of food waste annually.

The Legacy We Leave

We have to ask ourselves, when did luxury become about excess on top of excess on top of excess and how far will this mode of thinking really carry us?

Will it be worth it, to have a larger profit share and billions of dollars when we don’t have a world beneath our feet or clean air to breathe?

It’s easy to become complacent about environmental impact; on every level, the status quo is to make and buy, make and buy. But perhaps its time to look again at that cycle from another angle.

New Luxury knows that sustainability is so much more than a buzzword, that in the coming years it will be the thread that binds us back to the possibility of a future here on this planet. The sustainable movement is no longer just a marketing feature; its an ethos we all must adopt across every industry.

Waste is nothing short of a design flaw and in the 21st century, surely its about time we started to do better.

If luxury brands are about legacy, we need to ask ourselves – what legacy are we leaving for future generations.

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

Roxy Genier New Luxury Manifesto Sustainability icon

Global Value Chains - Luxury Anti-Value #9

Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-Value - Global Value Chains




Cost reduction is directly contradicting the true meaning of luxury.

When we buy into the beauty of luxury, we lovingly run our fingers across the handstitched Made in Italy label. We conjure dreams of Tuscan hills of rolling green and gold, deep set family businesses which have lasted for centuries, the scent of hand-cut leather, and the deft hands of needle and thread.

The reality is sometimes much different than the fairy-tale. In an expose piece for the LA Times, a journalist ran a story on big name brands importing cheap overseas labor into Italy’s heritage leather scene in an effort to cut costs. The article warns would be buyers;

These days, the coveted “Made in Italy” label on those Prada bags and Gucci shoes, which can quadruple a price, may not mean what it used to. Thousands of Tuscan factories that produce the region’s fabled leather goods are now operated and staffed by Chinese. Though located in one of Italy’s most picturesque and tourist-frequented regions, many of the factories are nothing more than sweatshops with deplorable conditions and virtually indentured workers.’

A False Sense of Security

While buyers are used to hesitating over buying a garment made in china, Cambodia, or Bangladesh, they usually would feel clean and comforted purchasing goods with a Made in Europe logo. But it’s a false sense of security. Back in the 90’s the Tuscan region became flooded with imported labor from Wenzhou in China. These workers set up textile businesses in garages or joined the manufacturing houses of big-name brands like Prada and Gucci, churning out Made in Europe textiles for a fraction of the cost of European workers. They worked eye-wateringly long hours, the smaller businesses imported cut price textiles from back in China, and they grew. In this piece for The New Yorker, D.T Max notes;

The Chinese firms gradually expanded their niche, making clothes for middle-tier brands, like Guess and American Eagle Outfitters. And in the past decade they have become manufacturers for Gucci, Prada, and other luxury-fashion houses, which use often inexpensive Chinese-immigrant labor to create accessories and expensive handbags that bear the coveted “Made in Italy” label. 

The piece goes on to note that even a few years ago; ‘In 2014, an Italian artisan spoke to the investigative television journalist Sabrina Giannini. Gucci had given him a big contract, he said, but the pay was so low—twenty-four euros a bag—that he had subcontracted the work to a Chinese mill, where employees worked fourteen-hour days and were paid half what he made. When the bags made it to stores, they were priced at between eight hundred and two thousand dollars.’

While a spokesperson for Gucci reported these accusations as falsehood and has promised to increase scrutiny of their supply chain, the underlying message throughout these two articles is clear – big name luxury brands are cutting costs to increase profit and are selling a story of artisanship that doesn’t match the reality. Of course there’s always the argument that business is business, but consumers turn to luxury because they want to invest in the best.

Cheating a Buyer of Their Ethics

Many modern consumers want to buy ethically and when they drop hundreds and thousands of dollars on a product, they don’t expect it to be associated with sweatshops, inhumane working conditions, conveyor belt hours, and immigrants sleeping on the floor. No matter how picturesque the backdrop. Of course, there is nothing wrong with workers traveling to different countries to bring their skills and seek new opportunities, it is down to the brands to ensure that if those workers are associated with their name, then the whole process from start to finish is as ethical and authentic as it can be. Like local leather artisan Andrea Calistri notes; ‘If a customer pays 1,000 euros for a bag, he has the right to expect, not only the best materials and the best creation, but also a respected legal process’.

Luxury brands are often lauded over the cheap retailers; when we hear of factories collapsing and child labor laws we immediately point fingers at high-street stores selling garments for a few dollars, but a higher price tag doesn’t always buy you assured ethical practice. Even more so, with the gap between minimum wage and living wage being at its highest in Europe as opposed to places like Asia, this creates another painful problem for those who feel sweetly subdued by the promise of a Made in Europe label. This piece from The Guardian highlights an example of this;

In Croatia for example, the report says suppliers for Benetton and Hugo Boss pay one-third of what would constitute a minimum living wage. A spokesperson from Hugo Boss states that it “obligates its suppliers to comply with the applicable minimum wage legislation” and that “wage negotiations are the exclusive domain of the supplier, its workforce and other parties within their countries, some of which are accorded roles by national legislation,”

The Hypocrisy of High Class Cost Cutting

Back in 2007, British born brand Burberry moved one of their welsh factories to China in an effort to increase profits. The move caused a celebrity backlash and general uproar as the business were seen to be turning their back on their shiny promise of corporate social responsibility, especially as the move threatened to put a lot of people out of jobs in a small Welsh town.

The move went ahead regardless, with Burberry holding up their hands apologetically and saying; ‘its business, it’s the right decision’. But isn’t there then a hypocrisy on the table for a brand that has built its legacy on a Made in Britain label? For Burberry it wasn’t a do or die situation like it was with car manufacturers like Jaguar and Aston Martin, it was in the interest of short-term profit, at the expense of their integrity. A few years later and reports were that Burberry had to pull out of China due to concerns over workers conditions. A scandal it wasn’t hard to see coming from the start.

Read the 24 Anti-Laws of Marketing and you see that Burberry went against the luxury strategy with this move. Rule 18 points out that luxury brands should not relocate their fashions because; ‘Luxury goods are unconcerned about cost control, at least to this degree. It is more important for a luxury item to be steeped in a culture and being made in a certain place is worth the expense of maintaining this association. To be made elsewhere is to dilute the identity and perceived value of the brand.’ Another law being broken here; law 23; Anti-Laws of Marketing – 23: Do not look for cost reduction: cost reduction is an obvious mistake that luxury brands should avoid: it is done to keep prices down and is often indifferent to the impact on quality. Luxury brands recognize that there is a high cost to providing high quality and compromising on quality is entirely unacceptable to their customers.

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The Scandal of Suicide Watch

While fashion gets the brunt force of accusations against global value chains, the technology sector also brings huge problems to the table. One of the largest plants for manufacturing Apple products can be found in Shenzhen at the Longhua complex. Marked as one of the hardest factories for journalists and reporters to get into, since 2010 the compound has had a reported 18 suicide attempts and 14 confirmed deaths according to this piece by The Guardian. Long work hours, poor conditions, and harsh treatment from managers were reported from inside the grey walls. In 2012 50 workers gathered on the roof and threatened to jump unless conditions improved. In response to all of the above, the factory put up body nets, made workers sign a declaration not to kill themselves and even Steve Jobs noted that the spate of suicides were in-keeping with the national average.

Forgetting Our Fundamental Values

The idea of hanging onto heritage and name sakes is a gamble, Millennials don’t consider brand loyalty as a big deal in comparison to former generations.

They crave authenticity, meaningful connections, the true meaning of trust, and personalization along the way.

Brands that can use these new building blocks as foundations for New Luxury are sure to find themselves swimming in the clear waters of tomorrow rather than stagnating in the swamps. Innovation and connectivity are already tomorrow’s luxury, and savvy brands will already be cleaning out their houses and putting these new designs in place.

Now that we have  learned about the dangers of global value chains, let’s explore the solution.

Roxy Genier New Luxury Manifesto Techno Artisanship icon

Luxury Anti-Value #10 - Fastness

Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-Value - Fastness




The one word that is synonymous with true authentic luxury is time.

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. ~ Carl Sandburg

Even the word luxury rolls off the tongue in a long and languorous way – you are supposed to feel the lilt of every letter. Say it quickly and it loses its essence, becomes something harsh on the tongue. The romanticism of luxury comes from slow production. It comes from the handcrafted workshops of some of the worlds greatest artisans, it is enjoyed by the consumer in a slow and sensual manner. It’s the thread that doesn’t unspool, the diamond that glints forever, the taste of To’ak chocolate or a fine wine that lingers.

The Dangers of Faster Living

Luxury is there to gift us a breath. Our world is a kaleidoscope clash of color, chaos, and consumerism. In a New York Post by Dr Stephanie Brown, she sketches out the danger of society’s self-destructive addition to faster living. She warns us that ‘Society is now dominated by beliefs, attitudes and ways of thinking that elevate the values of impulse, instant gratification and loss of control to first line actions and reactions. “I want it now!” or “Do it now!” are valued mantras for today’s with-it person, young or old. Add to instant action the belief that there are no limits to human power, no limits to action, no limits to success. Fueled by the grandiosity and omnipotence of these beliefs, people get high on the emotions of endless possibility with no need to ever stop or slow down.’

She goes on to say; ‘In a vicious circle, the exhausting fast pace of life promotes overstimulation and overscheduling, which become chronic stressors that lead to behavioral, mood and attention disorders.’

Luxury brands have a duty, to help their precious consumers to slow down. To gift them a moment away from the noise; to breathe, indulge, enjoy, and surrender to the serenity of experience.

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The Bling and the Burn Out

We live in an era of fast fashion, fast food, fast travel, and even fast luxury. Yes, our own bespoke brands are guilty of pushing quick, easy and superficial encounters upon their customers and calling it a true luxury experience. But with little to no meaningful interaction from the brand, barely a snippet of the chance to soak up the heritage, and more of a shove than a push to purchase a product – there is nothing positively experiential about this.

As a result, consumers are burnt out before they step in the door, we are bored long before we buy, and this sense of dissatisfaction can’t be swayed by simply swiping the credit card. We are left with hollow experiences, and before we have the chance to settle into one half-baked experience, we are already shifting our glance in a desperate attempt to find the next.

Consumers Want to be Connoisseurs

The chance to be a connoisseur is being snatched away from consumers. Beneath the surface of speed, the high-class buyer wants to take their time, they crave meaningful encounters, the chance to learn all about the ethics and values behind a brand, to rest and play within that lifestyle, to have a real conversation rather than be moved like cattle through the world, and to find their space of belonging within their preferred brand world.

FOMO, or known by its longer name as fear of missing out, should be reserved for those outside of the luxury experience. If the consumer is experiencing FOMO while actively indulging in your product or brand venture, than something isn’t quite working. Luxury needs to prevent this crisis, by not just communicating but proving, that the here and now is the most desirable thing in the world.

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Slowing Down the Superyacht Spree

While the fashion industry is one of the major purveyors of fastness, the travel industry is quickly snapping on its heels. This is even true of the multi-million-dollar yacht industry. A seven-day superyacht charter can cost close to quarter of a million dollars, and during this time its not unusual to be shipped around to seven different country-islands within that short burst of time. You are expected to soak up the culture and color of St Barts on a two-hour shopping spree at the port before climbing back onboard and being shipped off to your next destination.

Touching down in a place isn’t the same as truly experiencing a place. Travel is a wonderful thing – it gives people the chance to discover culture, color, and different perspectives. It helps us to see the value and the wonder in our earth, and it is a tangible experience that can stay with us until our dying day. Brands at the very top of this industry should understand this and strive to deliver in a way that helps their clients connect with the world they want to see.

Luxury is a Good Hamburger

In the Restless CMO, an article titled Why the new luxury is me, myself, and I starts with the following statistic ‘With an average 80- 81% people across the age groups in agreement, health and time is perceived to be the major new luxury in our lives. As life expectancy and awareness of ill-health grows, and dual income families become the norm, people are looking for new ways to remain healthy and ensure they have time for the important things in life, like family, friends and time for themselves. This has led to huge recent developments in the healthy eating industry, from superfoods through to the clean- and slow-eating movements, and in travel and leisure.’

This all fits into the narrative that for the one percent, the true meaning of luxury is quite simply – more time. HNWI’s didn’t get to where they are by kicking back, to grow empires takes huge swathes of your time, commitment, and energy. Sacrifices are made along the way, fewer precious moments spent with family, CEO’s constantly being on call, and bottom line – less time to simply rest, relax, and enjoy the wealth you have accumulated.

In this article for Reuters titled time, not bling is the ultimate luxury, President of Esplanade Capital, Shawn Kravetz says; ‘For me, luxury is a good hamburger and time with my family,’.

Time is a non-renewable entity, we don’t get back what we have frittered away.

Brands Can Give the Gift of Time

If time is the ultimate luxury, than for brands and bespoke makers to give their time to creating beautiful things lends itself well to being something that those who value the preciousness of time would want to invest in.

Stella McCartney is a good example of this, in an interview for Desert Island Discs she says; I make to some extent fairly expensive clothes. I struggle with it but I also really struggle with fast fashion. With fabrics that aren’t beautiful and don’t use the best mills in Italy and Japan and England. “I think you also have to keep those crafts alive. You know I don’t think that good things should come really, really cheap. I’m trying to make something that last a lifetime. That you can give to your daughters and they can give to their daughters. I’m in that business. And I think that is luxury.’

She is right, dreaming and planning and creating beautiful things takes time. Time to think about and time to produce. Time is a non-renewable entity, we don’t get back what we have frittered away. Fast purchasing of fast products leaves us with a mundane humdrum of life rather than a meaningful warm glow. Like Tammy Eckenswiller from Rebecca Miinkoff says in this piece from Luxury Daily; There’s something really luxurious about that connection that you have with brands and that brands can make with you. As a brand, you want to create more of that, to make a direct relationship that’s a more real-time conversation where you’re not just firing out campaigns and messaging. It helps you to think outside the box because consumers are co-creating with you.’

The Slow Burn of Beautiful Branding

Brand who are able to nurture slow craftmanship and slow burning commitments to relationships will curate the most meaningful experiences. Fast luxury, or fast anything cannot stand the test of time, it is a flash in the pan experience that is quickly brushed aside and forgotten.

In an article for Jing Daily, the CEO of Moynat explains his vision of slow luxury ‘Moynat is a luxury brand that focuses on craftsmanship and quality to create the perfect artwork for our consumers. We are in no rush for sales. We (also) firmly resist marketing and advertising, as we need to keep the brand image of Moynat top-notch and private.’

To truly reach out to top end consumers, brands need to stop, take a breath, and revalue their thoughts on time. Churning out quick campaigns, cutting corners in the creation process, crashing blindly through the world without thinking about our planet and communities, and swapping personality for profit in the race to the top misses the mark when it comes to your audience. New luxury is about recognizing that the reward for the hustle and bustle is the slow and easy. It’s time to linger over a morning coffee, a shared supper with friends, and time to simply be. When brands understand that luxury is more than a material, this changes the way they connect with consumers; everything becomes more gentle and joyful for all.

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

Roxy Genier New Luxury Manifesto Slowness icon

Sameness - Luxury Anti-Value #11

Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-Value - Sameness




Standardization is a word that contradicts luxury.

“What did one mirror see in the other?
Nothing.”  ― 
Khang Kijarro Nguyen

Homogenous luxury. If you stop for a second, you will see what a huge contradiction in terms this is. Homogenous – uniform, identical, undistinguishable. Luxury – rare, different, a cut above the rest. Yet, we are living in a time where global standardization is seeping into the cracks of the very best brands across the far-flung globe.

You could be wandering a shopping mall in the exotic far-east and think you were strolling through suburban America. You could wake up in a hotel in Hong Kong and have exactly the same morning experience you would have in Rome. The same cotton thread sheets, the same suite layout, the same continental breakfast.

For some, maybe this sense of familiarity breeds comfort and safety. But, for many this strips us of any emotional connection. We go through the motions, wrapped in a bubble, warm and content – but feeling very little.

Luxury Can No Longer Play it Safe

Isn’t luxury here to wake us wonderfully from our slumber? Isn’t luxury all about a sensory journey, a chance to connect with the world around us on a deeper more deliriously delightful level? Isn’t luxury about one of a kind adventures, adapted just for you. By delivering cookie cutter experiences, brands aren’t living up to the promises on which they built their world.

Sometimes it feels like luxury is playing it safe, afraid to offer us new things or to fully embrace the bespoke art of being bold and different. But one of the most beautiful things about our planet is that it is full of diversity – colorful cultures, rare religions, and a tapestry of taste and sound from endless backgrounds, this melody of multiplicity extends across the board – even when it comes to those with affluence.

This means that luxury needs to stop cutting from the same cloth; this isn’t a one size fits all situation. People crave culture, experience and authenticity. This doesn’t mean that they don’t want a glorious global standard of quality – but that they do dream of the details being different.

For example if someone chooses to travel to Asia, they will want a little local flavor woven into their world. Otherwise, what was the point in traveling half-way across the globe to mirror the same experiences they have back home? From a Singapore sling on arrival to a carefully curated street food tour, a ride in a tuk-tuk, local art or photography adorning the walls – these are the tweaks that tantalize a traveler.

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Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness

It’s understandable that all brands want to build a consistent image, and for big hotel chains with resorts and city dwellings across the globe, it’s a balancing act between keeping your brand image strong and stable and tying in those original details to set each space apart. As outlined in this paper from the IBM Institute for Global Value titled Hotel 2020: The Personalization Paradox;

‘Over the past several decades, the hotel industry has become increasingly commoditized, with consumers seeing little difference between the offerings of one major hotel chain versus another. To break through this perceived sameness, hotel providers must implement solutions that provide unique insight into guest preferences and apply this knowledge to deliver increasingly differentiated and delightful services.’

One glance at the rising popularity for the boutique business and the likes of Airbnb showcase what customers want. There has been a sharp turn away from big hotel chains and a curious passion blooming from the chance to stay someplace that comes with the personal touch. Whether traveling for business or pleasure – boutique brings with it a breath of fresh air.

The Curse of the Golden Handcuffs

Boutique hotels get to be creative in their service without having to run every change up the chain. They are smaller and therefore better equipped to deliver a thoroughly personalized experience. Instead of the strive for perfection which the bigger hotels may have, the smaller boutique hotels celebrate their unique approach, even if it is a little rough around the edge, and it seems – the world is celebrating it with them.

In an article for Hotel Management on Striving for Imperfection, Sharan Pastricha CEO of Ennismore and Hoxton highlights how this is working in his favor “We don’t have brand standards. We are a hyper-local hotel, where our success is not defined by RevPAR, but how our guests and locals embrace us.” The article goes on to say that ‘while the panel was made up primarily of men and women representing independent-minded brands and companies, there was one obvious anomaly: Ben Pundole, VP of brand experience for Edition Hotels, Marriott International’s luxury lifestyle brand. If ever there was a company striving for perfection in the hotel space, it would be Marriott. Still, Pundole said the Edition brand is still a brand “where we embrace imperfection. We don’t want a tailor-made or manicured experience. That’s where creativity lives. There is no creativity in something formulaic.”’

In an opinion piece by Zak Selbert on Why Independent Hotels are Winning, he points out that; ‘Millennials like boutique hotels. Well-established brands are stuffy and undesirable in an era when a treehouse on Airbnb is sought after. Boutique hotels are better able to compete for the customers that Airbnb is siphoning from traditional brands because their customer experience can be tailored. Boutique owners have the flexibility to compete in a way that branded asset owners do not. They can benefit from branding strategies, digital media, big data and creativity to win their customers rather than sticking to an old formula that will soon be broken. The infrastructure and systems provided by major franchisors are golden handcuffs.’

Roxy Génier - Luxury Anti-Values - Sameness

Experience Vs Economy

This quest for originality within the travel industry is running even more rampant now that we have entered a so-called experience economy. The facts and figures have all been counted, we know that consumers are looking for brilliance over the banal.

The idea of the experience economy works at odds with the idea of standardization which beneath the skin is categorized as economy in productivity. When you standardize, you tend to do so in an effort to decrease costs and to increase productivity. Standardization also holds connotations in the business world of appealing to uniformity and transferability in a global context. It means that companies can branch out across the globe without the worry of different cultural characteristics of the countries they expand in seemingly having any effect on their business at all. Regardless of being in Vietnam, Bangladesh, San Francisco or Paris – the standard is the same.

But this checklist way of living doesn’t quite carry over into the luxury space – especially when talking about hospitality. A true luxury experience is sculpted around the consumer. Sure, mystery shopper checklists, rater agencies, and the like are helpful, as they give you the chance to collect data. But building an experience on data shared across the board isn’t going to give you much to mark yourself out when dealing with individuals.

Swapping Standardized for Personalized

As pointed out in this piece on The Best Luxury Services are Customized, Not Standardized, the author Ana Brant says; ‘Trying to provide luxury service by implementing standardized processes that will ensure compliance, with checklists designed by third parties that do not know your business as you do, will inevitably fail to address individual customer needs. These kinds of checklists address the fundamentals of good service — but meeting the requirements of the ratings agencies with standardized processes will inevitably disappoint the individual that you, as a luxury business, most need. Catering to the individual is what defines luxury; in the luxury segment, it is the critical competitive differentiator.’

You already have access to information that could help you to create a customized experience; a quick couple of questions prior to check in could give you the angle you need to personalize this stay for your guest. Those on business may want a different checklist of room amenities, toiletries and features in comparison to those arriving on their honeymoon. By using observation, intuition, and communication – you have all the resources you need to deliver an exceptional service dedicated to the individual.

Luxury brands need to be braver and to use their unique powers to rise above this sweep of standardization. New Luxury is about connection, emotion, and curating rarity so that you have the wonder of the wind behind your sails to venture where others dare not go. People aren’t checklists, and gorgeous experiences and moments of magic shouldn’t be commoditized or tied to someone else’s standards. In luxury we should have the freedom to play, to raise the bar, and to set our own standards – as long as they remain head and shoulders above the rest.

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

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Self-Love - Luxury Anti-Value #12

Roxy Genier - Luxury Anti-Value - Self Love




Spoil yourself. Perhaps its time for luxury brands to change their tune.

‘Unconditional giving of ourselves, and what we have, reflects a nobility of spirit which reaches out and binds all of us.’ – Dean and Marianne Metropoulos, owners of Metropoulos & Co.

The luxury world is forever purring messages of self-love; it tells us to treat, spoil, splash out, and indulge ourselves. Whether it be a whiff of perfume, the taste of chocolate, or a new set of diamond earrings, the message remains that we are worth it.

Primed with Luxury

There is nothing wrong with a hint of self-indulgence, but a 2009 study from Harvard University titled The Devil May Actually Wear Prada cited that being exposed to luxury is actually linked to higher levels of self-interest or to put it in blunter terms – selfishness.

In this study, students were exposed to luxury conditioning or non-luxury conditioning and shown photographs of associated products. The students were then asked to imagine themselves as CEO’s of a business and presented with various scenarios. The students who were exposed to luxury were dramatically more likely to endorse products regardless of the potential negative impact on society – for example cars with higher pollution levels or video games promoting violence.

The researchers noted that ‘Results … suggest that when primed with luxury, people endorsed self-interested decisions that could potentially harm others,’ and that ‘Luxury-primed individuals tend to make decisions that are self-interested and arguably unethical.’  The study went on to a further stage of word association that hinted that while exposure to luxury doesn’t make you a vindictive person, it can heighten feelings of indifference towards others.

Since 2009, the time lapse between the study and now has shifted slightly you could argue. While some belief systems pertaining to psychology and consumerism will be deeply imbedded, it does feel that the last few years has seen a rise in more philanthropic behavior from affluent consumers. Perhaps this is due to the rise of the dot com kids or the visibility of social media platforms.

Roxy Génier - New Luxury - New Luxury success model is Planet, People & Profit.

A Philanthropic Side of Luxury

As noted in an article for Forbes on How the Giving Habits of the Super Rich are Changing; Why are younger generations of the wealthy so gung-ho about giving their money away? Maria Di Mento, a staff writer with The Chronicle of Philanthropy, says the dynamics of their rise might be a factor. “They didn’t spend 25- or 30-years becoming billionaires. It happened within a couple of years or less and it was huge.” With that wealth, she adds, come expectations. Those expectations include embracing worthy causes and changing the world, which is appealing to many with the money to make a difference.’

So, we have two sides of the same coin. It is said that luxury products can promote selfishness, but luxury consumers are becoming more and more philanthropic. No-one wants their brand image to be synonymous with the caricature of the cold and uncaring CEO, or the greedy diamond dripping consumer. As we have mentioned many times before, luxury is moving forward into a period of grace – where social ethics, sustainability, culture and community are considered the new status and weight of wealth.

Luxury Branding Bad for Society?

As brands it’s important to adapt alongside the market, but also – its important to embrace philanthropy and a moral conscience because quite simply – corporate responsibility helps make the world a better place. In this article for Branding Mag titled Is Luxury Branding Bad For Society, the author points out; ‘There is a good deal of activity around Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for luxury brands, presumably as an antidote to the potentially toxic imagery of uncaring, greedy luxury consumers, but some researchers question whether or not lux brands are credible supporting those who work with the less lucky.

Still, as the Harvard study notes, in an era where potentially explosive social divisions are arising between the increasingly disparate haves and have nots, luxury brands – and all of us – may be better served by learning how to modulate our messages toward more objective luxury benefits such as quality and away from brand images of status that separate a select few not only from the masses, but also from their own better judgment.’

Roxy Génier - Luxury Anti-Values - Self-Love

Self-Love is Not Self-Actualization

Luxury brands have all the foundations they already need to join the philanthropic movement. If we take Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as an example, then luxury brands are already postponed at the very top of the pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid you have basic needs like food and shelter. Moving up you pass through stages of safety needs, belongness and love, to esteem, and finally the top tier – self actualization where one can achieve their fullest potential. Luxury is becoming more and more about self-actualization, meaning that giving back to the world should not be an issue. It is down to brands to encourage this behavior by using the message – not only in a one-off campaign, but as part of their everyday conversation.

If each brand partnered with a charity that fits their core business story – there would be ample opportunity to truly make a difference. For example Cartier with its rich history linking it to India could sponsor inter-cultural exchange programs or support local schools or designers in their studies. Some brands have already embraced this idea; Yacht Aid Global is an amazing program where superyachts can help deliver humanitarian aid and disaster relief to global communities. Their tagline is changing the world without changing course. This is an amazing chance for superyacht brands to give back to a highly relevant cause. Yet, only 44 superyachts out of ten thousand have signed up.

If luxury is at the pinnacle of the pyramid, we need to find a way to lead by example.

A Drop in the Ocean

If luxury is at the pinnacle of the pyramid, we need to find a way to lead by example. To find a way of giving back to our communities, and to encourage our patrons to do the same. It doesn’t have to be as complicated as ferrying aid to hard hit Caribbean islands, it can be sponsorships, donations, raising awareness and we can make it easy for our consumers by encouraging active donation at the time of purchasing.

However, brands need to be careful that when committing to giving back to the community it runs deeper than being just another token gesture. Inconsequential charitable actions that are used to simply tick a box or try to align with the philanthropic movement as a marketing exercise first isn’t going to cut it with today’s savvy and socially conscious buyer. Richemont unfortunately tows this line on their website when talking about a blood drive where 180 units of blood were donated. Richemont have over 28000 employees, this effort is quite literally a drop in the ocean.

No Exclusivity in Community

A quick glance at the LVMH Commitment section of their website and it becomes quickly clear that the company hold an exclusive attitude when it comes to giving back. They are not alone, plenty of luxury brands feel they need to keep their status bar high by not associating with so-called poverty at all, and only lending a helping hand to organizations that work within arts, education or entrepreneurship within their own country of origin.

Luxury brands would do well to turn their attention to start-ups to see what the modern-day consumer craves from the brands they admire. It’s as simple as Mable’s bamboo toothbrush, you buy one and they give one to a child in need, or Yuhme who with every reusable water bottle purchased will pay for 6 months of clean water to someone in the Central African Republic. These are just two examples from a line list, and those seeking inspiration should certainly check out this piece by Sustainable Chic on 25 ethical brands who are giving back.

Luxury brands have all the foundations they already need to join the philanthropic movement.

Ivory Towers Leave You All Alone

A spark of self-love can be a wonderful thing, and of course – everyone has the right to relish and enjoy the empires that they build. But to isolate ourselves high in our ivory towers will only fuel a rift between the so-called haves and the have nots. Selling messages built on the back of status and snobbery isn’t going to serve anyone well when social divisions are at an all-time high. New Luxury is about using our resources to forge stronger connections and to close the chasms that separate us. These words from Mohammed Dewji, President and CEO of MeTL Group sum it up beautifully;

‘We all have a moral obligation as the more affluent in society to give back as best we know how. I’ll leave you with a few words I share with many of my comrades: ‘When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living. Raise your standard of giving.

Now that we have  learned about the dangers of self-love, let’s explore the solution.

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