Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Luxury Brands and Exclusivity

Exclusivity is an important aspect of true luxury brands. People who purchase these brands want something that few others can have. A few different things contribute to their exclusivity: limited distribution, prohibitive price points and highly targeted marketing. Often, luxury brands are "insider brands," that is, they are so "high end" that most people have never even heard of them. Only others who are in the same socio-economic circles will recognize and truly appreciate them.

Limited distribution may mean that they are only in high end specialty boutiques in high end shopping districts in only the most elite enclaves around the world. This not only rules out Walmart but also Macy's and maybe even Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. 

The price points may also be prohibitive for most people, for instance a $5,000 Rubin Singer party dress, a $4,000 pair of Christian Louboutin evening shoes or $600 Vilebrequin men's swim trunks. Or consider the $2.4 million Bugatti Veyron Super Sports car, the $66 million Bombardier Global 8000 private jet, or a variety of super yachts that range from $200 million to $1.2 billion each. And consider purchasing an Ocean Pearl 2-person mini-submarine for your yacht. It is one of several brands that are priced between $80,000 and $4 million+.

Regarding marketing, consider Rolex. Rolex is the primary sponsor of many elite yachting and equestrian events. I doubt you would ever see Rolex sponsoring a hockey, baseball, basketball or football event.

Here is the interesting thing about luxury brands - some of them are also intended to be aspirational brands for people from the next socio-economic rung down who aspire to enter the higher socio-economic circle. Sometimes those brands create lower price point products as entry products to the brand. While this may expand sales significantly, it can also turn off the original customers if they perceive that the brand is becoming less exclusive. The brand loses its mystique or cachet.

What is it about exclusivity that is so appealing? Is it its ability to turn heads and cause hushed conversations? Is it its ability to provoke envy? Is it just knowing that you have something that few others in the world can have? Is it firmly reinforcing your social status? Is it just finding and possessing something that you have never seen before? Or is it the item's rarity itself?

If you are responsible for a true luxury brand, you must consider the notion of exclusivity as part of your brand's essence.


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