Is everything luxury now? The desire to go upmarket means many brands have added luxury into their marketing. But it's so overused that it creates confusion. How can this be luxury when that is also luxury? It makes no sense, yet it makes all the sense in the world.
The truth is it's all luxury.
Luxury is based on high value - personal, practical, and cultural. If something is of high value to your customers, it's luxury. It's that simple. But the luxury space, like any, has nuances; it's not all the same. There are different types of luxury.
The L'Oreal Group places its skincare brand Kiehl's in their luxury division. The brand sells face creams for around $40 and runs heavily discounted sales, an uncommon practice in the world of true luxury. Similarly, Coach, the New York fashion house famous for its handbags, refers to itself as luxury on its website, yet at $1,000, they are well below that of many other brands. So what is real luxury?
The Luxury Brand Pyramid
The Luxury Brand Pyramid is a thoughtful take on the not-so-obvious tiers of the luxury world.
Each tier has different qualities and appropriate strategies, but they all have a place in the overall market. It demystifies the business of luxury and, from it, come opportunities for a sophisticated strategy.
Understanding what type of luxury brand you are can provide incredible clarity among this elite crowd of tastemakers. Today, from masstige to premium to luxury and ultra-luxury, there are many ways to elevate a brand and bring it into the luxury conversation.
Ultra luxury, or true luxury, is not simply a matter of being the best in class; it defines the category.
These are one-of-a-kind creations, not products. Like the Hope Diamond sold by Pierre Cartier in 1911, rarity is the cornerstone trait. The fine art world offers a lasting example. The prints of a particular painting may fetch a good price, but there is only one original painting which cannot be reproduced. While both are valuable, the original is the true luxury, haute item, a one-of-a-kind piece. As long as the original is still around, the prints are defined by its existence.
Most luxury falls into more of a limited-edition rather than a one-of-a-kind approach.
Part of collections or drops, limitations in production, talent, materials, or suitable buyers, may limit how many of these are on the market. They are characteristically expensive purchases sold at limited retailers or through exclusive agencies, often inconvenient to acquire. Unlike Apple, which plays in the premium tier, Vertu, a purveyor of luxury mobile phones, uses leather, diamonds, and gold and sells its devices at prices as low as $2,900 and as high as $118,500.
Premium brands offer an elevated offering.
A Tesla, better than the standard cars on the market, provides an upmarket option but still remains accessible to a great many consumers. Premium brands often sell progress, expiring out of this tier when its defining qualities are commercially adopted or replaced by another advancement. Apple has applied many of these tactics, pricing the new iPhone 13 at $1,000.
Masstige comes from the blending of mass and prestige.
A masstige product or brand is still in the mass consumer market, easily accessible but pulls inspiration from the rest of the luxury tiers to boost its position. You can purchase Kiehl's at its retail locations. But you can also buy it at Nordstrom, Macy's, Sephora, and even Walmart. Using gold or detailing in your packaging is another common tactic at the masstige tier. It makes something feel special even in a shopping mall for a very affordable price.