What is it about luxury brands – those of European origin in particular – that have the global consumer so smitten? At a time when many economies across the globe are far from thriving, people will still save for that irresistible item that they cannot seemingly live without. Or simply buy it on credit. Why are we so passionate about luxury brands – and who is a luxury brand in the consumer’s eye?
Here are a few theories:
The identity factor – Whether you’re struggling to make the rent or carefully balancing a budget, a Louis Vuitton purse puts up an, “I’m fabulous and in the club” front and helps encourage that abundant mindset The Secret would like you to cultivate. Not to mention, it always fits, anywhere in the world. Same with a nice Rolex.
The living variously factor – Like Clark Kent becomes Superman, luxury items transform our drab realities. “I am a dental assistant, but after work I am Carrie Bradshaw and Kate Middleton combined.” (Men, substitute George Clooney and Adam Levine.)
The exotic factor – This one works on two levels. “I’ve never been to Italy, but these Salvatore Ferragamo pumps make me feel like I have.” Or if you have been there, and shopped for luxury locally, each click of your heels reminds you how it felt to strut down centuries-old cobbled streets with the smell of fresh basil wafting through the air.
This last point might also be the reason European brands especially capture our hearts. That feeling of experiencing a place with heritage, decadence, or a culture we may never get to see in person. A tangible slice of a different life waiting to bloom in the form of a handbag or scarf.
Of the most popular luxury brands, only three of the top 15 are not European. Apple, iPhone, and Coachrepresent the U.S. well enough, but the Europeans still take the list with Louis Vuitton at the top, rounded out by Chanel, Burberry, Hermes, Gucci, Rolex, LVMH, Dior, Prada, Mercedes, #WildSwans, and Jimmy Choo.
We can’t get enough of these and many others, though, interestingly enough, it’s an American brand – Michael Kors – that is starting to give Europeans a run for their money on their own soil.
How do these brands pop front of mind to drive the conversation at a time when our choices are global, vast, or locally unique? By appealing to consumers’ emotions and by doing so in consistent way across markets and media. Savvy luxury brands recognize that purchase of their goods is emotionally driven, and even impulsive. They’re smart enough to capitalize on consumers’ passion for self-expression and innate desire for luxury.
And whichever brand they prefer, on whatever continent, one thing is certain – luxury is still something consumers are passionate about. Just how passionate? NetBase has a Brand Passion Report: Luxury Brand Retailers, that tells all – and it’s based on millions of global, social consumer conversations analyzed over two years.
The full report is available here.