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Wrapping up Luxury

Stephen Fenton

7 December 2012

Rarity, exclusivity and scarcity by definition should really keep most luxury items a closely guarded secret. Indeed the 'Affluent Digital Male' is a new group that has spawned; a growing body of guys who primarily buy themselves gifts. However, at this time of year especially we find those with deep enough pockets opting to share some lux love.


Givers main motivation

Lots of brands are looking to relaunch upwards or "elevate" themselves as we call it, and in this context gift solutions need clear parameters for people types before they go into battle. There is a tendency in the marketing press to generalize these into all cash-rich indiividuals. A recent study on consumer preferences in the USA separated them into four distinct groups:

• The first was patricians, who are wealthy and “…pay a premium for inconspicuously branded products that serve as a horizontal signal to other patricians.”

• The second category was called parvenus (from the Latin perveniĊ, meaning arrive or reach), and included affluent people who also crave status and use Vuitton’s distinctive ‘LV’ monogram since the more subtle details of a Hermès bag’s price tag may not be recognized.

• The third class of consumers are ‘poseurs’ (French for a person who pretends to be what he or she is not). Like the parvenus, they are highly motivated to consume for status’ sake, but because they do not possess the financial means, these consumers are likely to turn to cheap substitutes for the originals.

• The last group are proletarians, those that are simply not driven to consume for status’ sake and either cannot or will not concern themselves with signalling by using status goods.


Making others feel special

We've established that the wrapping may come in all shapes and sizes, driven by varying forms of motivation. Now what's inside?

One of the classic techniques of luxury marketing is to 'delight customers' so that buyers of prestigious lifestyle services enjoy telling (or boasting to) their friends about the special extras, treats and touches that they received. Hotels have traditionally played this card to great advantage and there is perhaps something in this that means Givers are trying, metaphorically, to add a big fat bow with the present decisions they make. Do they hope to bottle and share the feelings that they first experienced?

The recipient is being granted membership to an exclusive set and at the same time being told precisely who joined first!


Ultimate delayed gratification

Is it the thought that counts? Much psychological research has been conducted in the area of 'delayed pleasure' to suggest that the anticipation of obtaining luxury has an affect on our brain stronger than at any other point in the buying cycle. Put another way desire THOUGHT is almost better that the desire REALIZATION and this is particular factor at work in terms of heirloom purchases like cellars of wine, magnums of champagne and casks of fine single malt.

High end lifestyle products, jewellery for long term investment and even wealth planning/burial and funeral specialists could build upon this perspective (whilst not ideal for under the Christmas Tree) – for useful further reading please follow this link Marketing Week.


So when looking for the perfect present idea the affluent Giver might want to consider a Shipwrecked 1907 Heidseick. This is viewed as the holy grail of all Champagnes, with a whopping $275,000 price tag per bottle. Aside from the history of the champagne, which was discovered on 1997 under the bottom of the sea perfectly preserved which adds to its appeal, the 200 bottles are the only remaining pieces of the label, making it extremely hard for Santa to get his hands on!

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