What makes a luxury brand… well, luxury? It’s an intrinsic value that is quite hard to define and something that universities teach in all marketing classes. It’s a question about brand identity and awareness, i.e. the customers’ perception of the brand. It doesn’t matter if H&M would say that they are a luxury brand, they will never be as long as the customers have another view of the brand.
There are several factors that will define whether a brand lives up to the customers’ view and perception of what luxury is.
What is Luxury?
A few factors that we can start out with are e.g. price, however, the price cannot be overpriced; quality, i.e. that the item will last for a long time; style, but cannot be tasteless, often classic and unique; and maybe most important is, historically at least, that the items are rare and limited.
An iPhone was seen as a luxury goods a couple of years ago, but ask yourself if you think that an iPhone is a luxury item at this point… I didn’t think so. It has become too popular to be defined as a luxury item.
The expectation is that the price has to be higher than a normal brand. Without the added price, how is the brand supposed to make sure that the quality is on par with the expectations of the customer?
The brand needs experts in production in order to create the goods. It’s not the only thing though, yet an important factor.
Luxury Craftsmanship & Quality
When you buy a luxury item, you expect that the fabrics and materials are of the highest quality. You want the leather, whether vegan or classic, to be sturdy in a bag or soft in a jacket.
Authentic craftsmanship with details that basically would cost too much for mass-production items to include. It can be something simple as seamline in a place that adds to the completeness of the item.
Uniqueness is of course another factor that we need to consider when speaking about luxury. If the item looks like everything else, how can customers identify it as a luxury item? Many luxury items are seen as timeless pieces that a customer can wear today and in 20 years.
That is also true for many of the items that were bought 20 years ago, they still look in fashion. It takes a lot of effort to create timeless pieces.
If the price is high, the quality outstanding and design timeless, these all should create a rarity among how many items are sold. Most customers don’t want to spend several hundred or thousands of dollars on luxury fashion because of the readily available fast fashion. The rarity of seeing something that is well-crafted and unique adds a final layer to the perception of luxury, that it’s for a special type of customer.
A customer that is willing to spend extra resources (not only money at this point, also time, as this website is set to discover) to acquire these goods.
Service is the final factor to consider in what luxury is. Good service exists in scarcity in busy stores with thousands of visitors each day. With high prices, customers also expect to be met with good service of people that are highly knowledgeable and service-minded.
Whether a customer makes a purchase online or in-store, the service part of the experience is highly important to enable customers to verify their perceptions of the brand. If a customer buys something online and it’s not a good fit once the item is received in their home, you kind of expect the brand to be helpful in changing the item to the right size.
Luxury is something that is created by the customers’ perception of the brand. The perception is built by several factors, some of these are the price, craftsmanship & quality, timeless unique design, rarity and service. All of these pieces will create an intrinsic value to all that a luxury company does.