Luxury versus Premium – Luxury Brands, Masters of Time

04 Oct 2011|Added Value

Premium brands are strongly anchored in a contemporary and modern reality whereas Luxury brands have a much more complex, deep and holistic approach to time.
Luxury brands shape their identity thanks to and over time. While, with the passing of time, others go out of date, wear out, luxury goods mature, acquire a patina and absorb the imprint of their holders.

In the world of Luxury, time is an essential dimension. Luxury brands are eternal; they are the masters of time, for today, yesterday and for tomorrow.
The challenge for Luxury brands today is to maintain and express their unfailing and unique link with time in an ever-changing world where cultural referents are constantly evolving.

The analysis of the dynamic of Luxury codes perfectly illustrates how Luxury brands narrate, capture and reinvent the powerful relationship they have with time. This dynamic currently enfolds 3 dimensions which can be expressed in different manners:
Timelessness: Luxury brands draw on their history, their heritage, their icons and their symbols to show and claim their superiority.
This is a hegemonic and historical posture which tends to be slightly dated, overused,
– Excellence (1) – a discourse focused on perfection, on the precious and exceptional aspect of Luxury goods and conveyed via symbols or through the most representative icons of the brand
– Heritage (2) – a discourse relaying the expertise and experience of the brand, its quality, its materials, its unique know-how
– Lust (3) – use of codes and symbols of a conspicuous, wealthy and glamorous life style
– Urban Knight(4) – the brand is tacitly embodied in the character of a lonesome hero in a modern and futuristic environment

Extemporal: Luxury brands go beyond reality and invite us into the worlds of fantasy and dream.
This is a dominant dimension, widely used by Luxury brands today.
– Fairytales (5) – a magical and enchanting world, more or less directly referring to traditional legends
– Darkness (6) – a mystical and fascinating world, imbued with a mystifying magic that can be disconcerting, even frightening
– Twisted (7) – a world of fantasy and creativity where reality is distorted, reinterpreted

Connectivity : Luxury brands reassert their modernity by establishing a more intimate and personal connection with their clients. They use cultural codes from different periods and no longer only ones centered on their own past history.
This is an emerging dimension which demonstrates Luxury brands strong desire to remain culturally relevant.
– Simplicity (8) – the brand takes second stage to the brand’s patron, emphasizing the return to basic values, discretion and humility.
– Here and Now(9) – the brand presents itself as the partner of intense and precious moments of life, both everyday ones and those more exceptional..
– Cultural Heritage (10) – the brand takes us back to the past using codes and symbols emblematic of past periods (Renaissance, 60s, 70s …).

To always ensure the pertinence of the stories they tell, Luxury brands must take into account local references and codes. For instance, our experience of Luxury on the Indian market showed that whereas some Luxury themes remain relevant, their expressions and codes are very specific locally (i.e. Fairy Tales that don’t have the same traditional resonance). Some expressions are even only relevant on this market.
In the challenge of differentiation from Premium brands, ‘time’ is a powerful ally for Luxury brands. Indeed, their power over time gives them infinite opportunities to reinvent themselves and to tell stories, whether ordinary or extraordinary, always emotionally charged.

1 – Rolls Royce. 2007 -2010; 2 – Hermès 2011; 3-Gucci. 2010;4- Bleu de Chanel 2011;5– Hermès. Spring-Summer 2011;6-Lanvin 2010-2011;7- Lanvin Fall-Winter 2011/2012;8 – Mont Blanc Campaign;9– Tiffany & Co – 2011;10 – Louboutin Fall-Winter 2011 campaign

Written by Cécile Gorgeon-Pompéi, Director Added Value

Cécile Gorgeon-Pompéi  was a speaker at the “Luxury vs Premium” conference organised by the Luxury Business Association on September 16th 2011.

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