“The Global Luxury Goods industry is poised to have the best growth year of the past five years,” according to the luxury insiders and tastemakers who presented at Bloomberg’s recent “The Year Ahead in Luxury” event in New York City. Craig Hogan, vice president of luxury for Coldwell Banker® Real Estate LLC, dispatched Lauren Muehlethaler, the team’s new director of luxury marketing, to report any interesting findings during the one-day invitation-only event.
“The all-star panelists gave us a 360-degree view of the most current challenges that every luxury brand faces, what’s trending in the luxury world, and the tremendous growth opportunities awaiting modern luxury marketers,” says Muehlethaler. “Technology is disrupting affluent consumer behavior in profound ways. And, people are expanding their definitions of luxury to include qualities like authenticity, experience and access.”
Here are several key luxury trends, themes and takeaways from “The Year Ahead in Luxury”:
1. Luxury doesn’t have to be untouchable or unattainable. During the “Fashion Tech Forum Presents: Looking Past the Past – Taking Heritage Brands into the Future” panel, Hermes CEO Robert Chavez and Cartier CEO Mercedes Abramo spoke about how they are maintaining strong ties to heritage and craftsmanship in the era of personalization and digital immediacy. Both brands are doing really interesting things with brand ‘pop ups’ that disrupt the traditional “luxury is untouchable” model. This idea was a major theme of the day. Later, Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Alinea Group (the company behind Chicago’s Michelin-star rated Alinea),noted: “What’s luxury in any of our lives is the thing we want most in that moment.” The modern concept of luxury isn’t necessarily about being elitist or having that unattainable object or experience at a high price point. It’s about freedom and agency, and the ability to have access to thing you desire most — whether it’s a fresh kale juice or a soul cycle class that you can book a bike seamlessly online.
2. Luxury is not a business classification. It’s a mindset. It’s about service and experience.
3. Aspiration is a key component for modern luxury marketers. As Ian Schrager, founder and chairman of the Ian Schrager Company, noted:“Even a brick aspires to be something more – a building.” Schrager ought to know. He is responsible for some of the most aspirational travel experiences around the world, from New York City’s Gramercy Park Hotel to the EDITION Hotels.
4. Don’t market to just millennials. Market to everyone. Does Apple design a phone for millennials? No, they design a phone for everyone. It is about a sensibility, not a demographic. Thus, catering entirely to millennials isn’t necessarily the path to scalable success for modern day luxury brands. After all, everyone wants to have ease of functionality, simplicity of design and exceptional service.
Hogan sums up: “The Coldwell Banker Global Luxury® program is a leader in luxury real estate, and that means we are constantly looking at other industries in the luxury space so we can make sure we are fine-tuning our marketing strategies for the next generation of affluent homebuyers and sellers. Evolving is something Coldwell Banker does very well, and after 112 years in this business, I would say that we’ve mastered the art of adapting to change. We’re not looking at the tired old real estate traditions of the past as our model. We’re looking at forward-thinking luxury brands in fashion, jewelry, auto, yachts, jets and hospitality to move us into the future. That’s what bridges us all together.”