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Communicating the Value of Luxury

Wayne McMaster

18 April 2013

With an increasingly cautious affluent consumer concerned about their ability to manage their finances through this difficult economy, what are premium and luxury home interior brands and marketers to do to encourage this critical customer segment to buy?

Consumer confidence has continued to lag since the beginning of the year, with the affluent in particular expressing skepticism in the overall state of the economy and their personal financial situation. In a recent study of affluent consumers in America by Unity Marketing, only 23 percent of respondents said they expected to spend more on high-end goods and services over the next twelve months.

Tom Bodenberg, Unity Marketing's chief consumer economist, says

"Marketers need to re-position luxury goods as a value proposition. That means to keep the luxury image and connotations (advertising creative, packaging, media and service), but communicate (in a very implied, almost one-to-one way) affordable pricing. The key is an almost subliminal positioning of value. The current cultural climate can't support showy displays of luxury. People with means want to make smart buying decisions and playing up the quality and value of a brand while downplaying the pure 'luxury' of it is key for today."

Perhaps beyond this need to reposition there should be thought given to some other authentic alternatives:

Make the case for sustainability

The saying “you get what you pay for” certainly applies to luxury brands, and most high-end brands can claim a premium price due to the quality and sheer allure of the design that goes into it. Luckily with a quality, well-designed product also comes the inherent knowledge that it will last longer than a less-expensive substitute – making it a “sustainable” purchase that pays for itself over time.

Litton take this model of desirable sustainable luxury in furniture making and bring it to the forefront in their communications.

"We have deliberately avoided using exotic timbers and materials often considered luxurious such as wenge, rosewood, mahogany and ebony which are endangered species. All the woods used are English timbers from sustainable sources. We are often approached by timber merchants offering their most prized and rarest trees, giving us an unrivalled selection of woods chosen for their inherent beauty and suitability for fine furniture."

Continue to develop the story

Tap into the buyers imagination by drawing them into the brand story line. Build an authentic story behind the origins and culture of products, or even of the artisans and skilled makers. See blog The Luxury Value of Provenance. For those fortunate to have true generational history, play to this, as Ercol have with their simple online timeline charting their rsie from humble Italian begininnings in High Wycombe:

Initiate goodwill campaigns

It’s important for consumers to know that their money spent is also helping a good cause. Communications that help their luxury brands tie in with a charitable cause, a disaster relief effort, or a community program, will go a long way to helping consumers “justify” a more expensive buy.

Farrow & Ball has stick to its Dorset roots by supporting local charity Julia’s House. The limited edition designer boxes were created in celebration of 10th anniversary of Sky+ delightfully decorated, featured Farrow & Ball’s luxury Silvergate BP877 wallpaper pattern, were auctioned off on Ebay in aid of Julia’s House Hospice.

 

Develop a 'limited edition'

A limited edition product line can create a sense of exclusivity. Create a certificate of authenticity to go with the product will authenticity. Limiting the design to a finite number of copies, signing and numbering each copy – like Marcus White, who states clearly on his site:

"Every piece in each design of the Limited Edition furniture range is one of only 100 pieces ever made.  They are uniquely numbered, assuring you exclusivity, as well as collectability.

Designs by Marcus White furniture is designed to the highest standards, and constructed to last.  These are the antiques of the future and will provide years of pleasure, to be handed down, generation to generation, to your heirs."

 

There is a discrete etched mirror-polished stainless steel identity plate on each of the Limited Edition furniture pieces.  Once 100 pieces are sold from each design, the furniture piece is withdrawn from the international market, thus ensuring the collectability of each furniture piece and its increasing resale value.

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