Blogging From the 2010 American Express Publishing Luxury Summit: What Is The New Luxury?
There's no denying it's been a rough couple of years for the luxury world. But we're still standing. And, after a year hiatus, so is the American Express Publishing Luxury Summit, which started last night at Las Vegas' new palace of luxe, the Mandarin Oriental in the new CityCenter complex. After a meal featuring Robert Mondavi wines and bright chatter, the conference got down to business and the real question: what is luxury now?
There are reasons to be at least cautiously optimistic. People want to shop, they also want to be reassured that its okay to do so. If 2008's luxury was a little bit brand-centric, a little too easily accessible, today's luxury is a very different animal. Two years ago we heard words like 'affluenza' and 'masstige' but those words died amid the bank bailouts and the recession. Last night, in a lecture by Richard David Story, the editor of Departures Magazine, we heard phrases like "a flight to quality" and "artisan." Bespoke is the new black. People are ready to, albeit cautiously, welcome luxury back into their lives. But now it has to matter, it has to be attached to core values. Luxury in and of itself isn't enough of a prime motivator. The label still matters but only if it carries the right reputation. Obvious logo shopping is gone.
What matters now: convenience, we are after all, a rapid speed world, but what is also key is the distinctive, the special. Why do brands like Hermes still matter? Because they have never compromised on quality. These brands continue to attract new consumers because their reputation lives on.
What's new: the art of the haggle. People want to make sure they are getting the best deal. Value is important. You need only to look at the rise of internet shopping sites like Gilt Groupe and One Kings Lane to know that getting a discount has lost any semblance of shame. There are far fewer people with disposable money, the so-called 'mcLuxury' is done. Reaching consumers through the internet and mobile devices is key for every brand, no matter how staid. Luxury consumers were likened to fish. slippery, and hard to catch. Catering to the individual is the net that the luxury market hopes to use to capture the big ones.