Elevated tastes

Knowing and understanding the new luxury consumer

Winkreative’s Perspectives series shares our view on brand and business – the changing audiences, emerging trends and timeless tactics you need to understand to stand out from the crowd. In this article, we explore how luxury consumers are changing, and identify the ideas and desires that matter to them the most.

What does luxury mean? In the past, our ideas of luxury were simple – the most expensive, the most glamorous, the most unattainable. A landscape where the markers of luxury were laid out by the businesses and brands that offered it. But that landscape is changing.

Today, luxury – as both a concept and a category – is more contested and competitive than ever.

Where brands once set the standard, individual consumers now define what luxury should and could be.

The profile of the luxury consumer is shifting too. Once united by a shared demographic and financial profile, they have become increasingly fragmented, geographically and culturally. Perhaps representative of this is one broad, but key segment — the discerning global consumer. While they’re not the only ones who will buy and engage with luxury, they will influence taste and drive global consumption for years to come. Knowing them will help you know what’s coming.

Because, ultimately, in order for luxury brands and businesses to succeed in this evolving landscape, they’re going to need to adapt to a range of mindsets, needs and tastes. Always staying one step ahead by asking themselves: what is this audience looking for, and what can we do to attract them?

A quieter luxury

Consumers in many parts of the world are reverting to less conspicuous forms of luxury, with an increasing preference for items that are understated and everlasting. Even in markets like Korea, where luxury has typically been about loud excessive outward statements of wealth, the most discerning consumers are now more focused on signalling taste to a select few ‘in the know’.

Changing status

While status still matters, the values that define it have changed.

Luxury consumers today want to be seen as ethical, creative, connected, philanthropic, and conscientious.

It’s a softer, more human-focused view, where community and insider knowledge signify status – where consumers desire meaningful experiences, free time, individuality, and social connections.

The human touch

Affluent consumers are big users of technology and digital forms of entertainment. But with greater access comes concern about technology’s effect on our lives and our wellbeing.

Sensory, human-driven experiences are the new luxury.

There is a growing demand for physical and human connection – a need to unplug, a desire to connect with places that feel raw and real, and a longing for the reassuring physicality of analogue formats.

Wellbeing, not wellness

We’ve explored the issues and opportunities with the wider wellness model in our previous article, Making wellness feel better. The narrow view offered by the category is impacting the behaviours of luxury consumers, many of whom are increasingly fatigued by cliched marketing and destinations that deliver wellness only through the spa concept.

In response, consumers are gravitating towards brands that embody a more holistic definition of wellbeing – one that considers the physical, mental and emotional. Places that understand that wellbeing can be achieved by a walk on a beach or a meal with loved ones.

Sustainability matters

A genuine commitment to the future of the planet and humanity has become essential to secure a place in the hearts of modern luxury consumers. Yet at the same time, “sustainability” claims are now ubiquitous across every industry.

Brands must practice what they preach, but they must also communicate what they mean by “sustainability” with nuance.

For those that truly want a point of difference, they need to think beyond limited harm and offsetting: they need to be additive and regenerative in terms of their impact on people and planet.

The gravitas of heritage

Brands who communicate heritage well can captivate the luxury consumer. Heritage conveys an origin story. It has informed the design and shaped the style and service that is on offer today. It is truth and credibility.

In the context of products and services, heritage is more than a look backwards – it’s a platform to move forward. It represents an opportunity for innovation to repeat itself, and can act as a guide for creative value for the consumer in the future.

The new luxury consumer is an audience Winkreative knows in depth – and we have the insights, tools and creativity to help brands understand them, appeal to them and attract them. To find out how we can bring your brand closer to the new luxury consumer, get in contact: [email protected].