Strategy

Can High-End Brands Meet Diverse Budgets?

By
Bibiana Obahor
August 28, 2023
IMAGE CREDIT - CHANEL
Luxury can be experienced as a feeling, a status symbol, a tradition, or even a source of comfort, and understanding these facets is crucial to understanding what truly makes a brand luxurious...

I recently saw the phrase "luxury for every budget" used in a marketing ad and felt an intriguing question was raised: Is luxury really meant for every budget? What does it mean to be a luxury brand? If it's at a certain price point, then can luxury truly be accessible to everyone? While luxury goods are often associated with high price points, there is more to defining a luxury brand than just its cost. Luxury can be experienced as a feeling, a status symbol, a tradition, or even a source of comfort, and understanding these facets is crucial to understanding what truly makes a brand luxurious.

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The Concept of Luxury

Luxury goods are products deemed non-essential, representing items that consumers do not require for their basic needs. These encompass a wide range of items, from high-end designer clothing, exquisite jewellery, and watches to opulent estates and exclusive vehicles. The demand for luxury goods is often influenced by economic prosperity, as people tend to indulge in these non-essential items when their incomes rise.

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Alberto Maddaloni, saint laurent Spring/Summer 2023 menswear show

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Despite occasional fluctuations in non-essential spending, the luxury goods market has been steadily growing. In 2022, it was estimated to be worth an impressive $242.8 billion, a figure projected to increase to $369.8 billion by 2030. A significant portion of this growth, around $115.4 billion, is expected to come from luxury apparel alone.

Uche Okonkwo, a luxury business analyst, outlines ten core characteristics of a luxury brand.

  1. Innovative and unique products
  2. Consistent premium quality
  3. Exclusivity in production
  4. Controlled distribution
  5. Heritage of craftsmanship
  6. Distinct brand identity
  7. Global reputation
  8. Emotional appeal
  9. Premium pricing
  10. High visibility.

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Beyond Price Points

A common misconception is that the price alone determines a product's value as a luxury item. However, it's not merely about slapping a million-dollar price tag on a product; it's about creating an extraordinary desire for something unique and exclusive. Many luxury brands strive to move beyond being perceived as ephemeral, seasonal producers of clothing and accessories. Instead, they aim to establish themselves as cultural definers, elevating their position in consumers' minds and bolstering their bottom lines by association.

The crux of a luxury brand lies in its ability to establish a larger brand image or ethos. Consumers are not merely buying a product; they are buying into the allure and prestige associated with the brand.Β 

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most luxury fashion and watch brands are touted by rich origin stories (the branding journal)

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While some may argue that the price of luxury goods is justified by their superior quality, craftsmanship, and overall consumer experience, a substantial part of the appeal can be attributed to storytelling and the meanings tied to these iconic assets. As luxury business analyst UchΓ© Okonkwo suggests, consumers seek high perceived prestige and an association with an affluent lifestyle when purchasing luxury brands. These elements are skilfully conveyed through a brand's aesthetics and elaborate marketing efforts, but the names and logos themselves play a vital role in directly communicating this exclusivity to consumers.

Luxury brands excel at tapping into the human psyche, understanding that their allure lies in offering more than just tangible products. They are masters at crafting an entire experience, a lifestyle, and an aura of exclusivity around their offerings. This art of creating desire is accomplished through various strategic techniques, which revolve around enriching the consumer's experience and creating a sense of distance between the consumer and the product.

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Storytelling and Branding

One of the defining aspects of luxury brands is their prominent and easily recognisable logos and branding. Consider iconic luxury handbags like Chanel, Goyard, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton. These bags are not merely about their materials or craftsmanship; their logos and signature prints play a pivotal role in their desirability. The interlocking "C" of Chanel, the Goyard print, and the timeless Louis Vuitton Monogram are symbols of status and prestige that consumers are willing to pay a premium for.

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getty images, goyard

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This emphasis on branding highlights a key aspect of the luxury industry: it is not solely in the business of selling fashion or products for their functional utility. Instead, luxury brands are masterfully selling their trademarks and the allure associated with them. These brand names and logos carry significant goodwill, and consumers are willing to pay a premium to own these status symbols.

One of the key methods luxury brands employ is storytelling. They weave narratives that transcend mere material objects and evoke emotions, aspirations, and dreams in consumers. Through storytelling, luxury brands take consumers on a journey towards desire, painting a vivid picture of the extraordinary world that surrounds their products. This enrichment of the consumer experience elevates the brand beyond the realm of simple commodities and establishes a deeper connection between the consumer and the brand's ethos.

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Creating Distance

Social distancing is another powerful tool in the luxury brand's arsenal. By presenting an aspirational group or lifestyle, luxury brands create a sense of longing and a desire to be part of this exclusive world. Consumers are drawn into the allure of belonging to a select community that embodies elegance, sophistication, and affluence. This aspiration for inclusion into an elite circle becomes a driving force behind the desire to own luxury products.

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consumers aspire to dress like their favourite celebrities in (left to right ) armani, margiela and miu miu

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Temporal and spatial distancing are also skilfully employed to highlight the uniqueness of luxury offerings. Luxury brands often position their products in a different time and place, emphasising their heritage, craftsmanship, and enduring value. By linking products to historical references or mythical settings, the brand elevates its merchandise beyond the ordinary and attaches a sense of timelessness to it.

Hypothetical distancing is perhaps one of the most captivating techniques luxury brands use to create desire. By presenting scenarios that are almost beyond belief, they spark consumers' imagination and immerse them in a dreamlike world of possibilities. These scenarios might depict a surreal lifestyle or a fantasy that resonates deeply with the desires of the target audience. The sense of aspiration and wonder that these hypothetical situations evoke entices consumers to embrace the brand and its offerings as a means to participate in this extraordinary realm.

Lastly, abstraction plays a crucial role in leaving room for interpretation and personal projection. Luxury brands often present visuals and symbols that hold multiple layers of meaning, allowing consumers to find their own significance and connection to the product. This open-ended approach invites consumers to infuse their own fantasies, dreams, and aspirations into the brand's offerings, forging a more profound and lasting impression.

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The Foundation of Luxury Brands

One of the primary factors that contribute to the allure of luxury brands is their exclusivity and rarity. The idea of owning something very exclusive or rare forms the fundamental foundation of luxury. Consumers are drawn to luxury goods not just for their exquisite craftsmanship or premium quality but also for the prestige that comes with owning something unique and scarce.

However, with the growing presence of luxury brands and increased competition, maintaining exclusivity while expanding market reach has become a delicate art. As new companies enter the luxury market, there is a rise in competition for brand awareness and consumer activity. In response, luxury brands are turning to digital media and e-commerce to reach a broader audience without compromising their status of rarity and exclusivity.

The shift to digital platforms has allowed luxury brands to showcase their products to a wider audience and achieve more sales and brand loyalty. It has also given aspiring consumers access to luxury brands and products that were once challenging to find. Digital tools such as e-commerce websites and social media marketing have proven to be influential touchpoints, driving sales and engagement for luxury brands.

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Nevertheless, luxury brands are mindful of striking a balance between accessibility and exclusivity in the digital age. While embracing technology, they continue to lead innovation and create luxury experiences for their customers. By leveraging state-of-the-art technological upgrades, luxury brands provide tangible value to their customers and maintain the sense of privilege and uniqueness associated with their products.

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Can luxury meet every budget?

I believe that traditional luxury cannot meet every budget. The essence of luxury brands lies in their exclusivity, rarity, and high-quality offerings. Luxury goods are deliberately positioned as non-essential, aspirational items that cater to a select group of consumers seeking prestige and a higher status. The very nature of luxury necessitates a higher price point, reflecting the craftsmanship, materials, and brand image associated with these products. Making luxury accessible to every budget would undermine the essence of luxury itself. The allure of luxury lies in its distinction, rarity, and the sense of exclusivity it imparts. If luxury were available to everyone, it would lose its aspirational appeal and become commonplace, eroding the very foundation on which luxury brands are built.

However, an opposing view could argue that luxury brands should strive to make luxury more accessible to a wider range of consumers, even those with lower budgets. This view may emphasise the importance of inclusivity and the potential for increased revenue by tapping into a larger consumer base.

Proponents of this perspective may argue that luxury brands can still maintain a sense of exclusivity and desirability while offering more affordable options or entry-level products. By doing so, luxury brands can attract new customers who may not be able to afford their flagship products but still desire to be associated with the brand's image and lifestyle.

Furthermore, making luxury more accessible could help luxury brands remain relevant in a changing market landscape. Consumer preferences are evolving, and younger generations may prioritise experiences and values over traditional notions of luxury. By offering a range of products at different price points, luxury brands can adapt to these shifting preferences and appeal to a broader audience.


In conclusion, the significance of exclusivity in luxury brands is evident, as it forms the very foundation upon which luxury stands. Exclusivity plays a pivotal role in creating a desire among consumers, drawing them towards these extraordinary experiences and prestigious lifestyles. As luxury brands navigate the challenges of the digital age, they strive to maintain their aura of exclusivity while reaching a wider audience through creative brand awareness. By carefully balancing accessibility with their sense of rarity, luxury brands continue to captivate consumers and maintain their position as symbols of opulence and prestige. Luxury, therefore, remains a necessity that begins where necessity ends, offering an alluring escape into a world of exceptional craftsmanship, aspirational imagery, and a sense of privilege.

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