These days, the term ‘luxury’ is banded around by almost every sector of marketing. It seems like each budding seller, from brand marketers to shop floor retailers, uses the buzzword ‘luxury’ to enhance the relevance of their product in an effort to convince eager customers that they are getting the very best.
Indeed, in the mass market, of whom this strategy is truly focused, ‘luxury’ is almost entirely synonymous with the equally beguiling term ‘sale’. Although the L word has proved a great selling tool when aiming at those wanting a more affordable route to the high life, in the real world of luxury, the word ‘sale’ simply does not exist.
Promotional sales - even of respected brands - tweak at the aspirations of those wanting to sneak into the masquerade ball of real luxury. But ultra-high-net-worth-individuals (with a minimum of £20 million in liquid assets), expecting a true luxury brand, will fervently expect to pay the price of admission.
There is a flip side however, as 80% of the world’s uber-rich have risen to prominence in the last decade, due to the mass market’s dilution of the bona fide luxury sector, and the resulting confusion around what ‘luxury’ really means; respected brands need to uphold their standards to make sure they continue to target the right customers.
Especially in the current economical climate, even the most prestigious brands can fall into the trap of cheapening their name in search of a fast pay out. For international brands, the hundreds of thousands saved, can later mean hundreds of millions lost in previously established brand image. Such a misdemeanor can happen in one fell marketing swoop and the consequences can irrevocably shatter a company.
Rescuing the real luxury sector from the mass marketing abyss is something which the aptly named Luxury Guru, Lorre White has worked on for two decades. As CEO for White Light Consulting, her expertise have lead to her being known across the world as a luxury expert on CNN.MONEY, ABC, NBC, FOX National, Sirius Radio and various other magazines, alongside running The Luxury Channel video podcasts on iTunes and Zune.
In discussing her work, Lorre states, “My unique niche it reaching the world’s wealthiest demographic. I am a luxury marketing consultant and my clients are luxury brands that have products and services to sell that require a certain level of wealth to purchase them, things like $60 million yacht, or $120 million private jet. In my consulting work it is not the end user [buyer] that I am working with; it is the companies that need to know how to reach and maintain this small and difficult demographic.”
With past credentials including top marketing jobs with some of the most prestigious private aviation companies, Lorre appears regularly on American TV, giving insight into the very best products available from perfume to private jets.
Over in the UK however, we can struggle to find direct access to the real luxury market through our TV sets or online blogs. Maybe it’s the recession, but most small screen shopping guides focus on saving every penny rather than showcasing absolute luxury. But White insists that even in this time of economical unrest, the luxury market continues to boom, as her followers gravitate round more online formats in favour of the regional limitations posed by TV.
“There are two types of Luxury Consumers: The aspirational and the UHNW ultrahigh- net-worth], or as I call them, ‘the already arrived’. The fashion industry depends on the first category for up to 80% of their sales. This is why the fashion industry was hit so much harder in the global recession than the private jet companies which have exclusively clients and so they are not as affected by the slowdown in the economy. The truly rich can lose half of their net worth and still be rich. If you’re worth a billion and you lose half of it, you’re still not skipping any meals or pulling your kids out of school to help support the family.”
Once money is taken out of the equation, the real luxury to the UHNW individual is their precious time. As any successful business figure would agree, a hectic work schedule can mean there simply is no time to keep up to date and Lorre’s TV work alongside her regularly updated website (www.LuxGuru.Typepad.com) allow her cash rich/time poor followers to easily access the world of ultimate luxury.
Although her insightful media ventures can guide the new money ultra rich in to how to spend their fortune, her work with some of the world’s top brands has helped them maintain their quality instead of creating more affordable products to appeal to the top end of the mass market.
In the luxury world, you will never be higher on the scale than when you launch. It takes much more money up front to reach this group. It is not like a mass market where you can tweak things and improve them along the way. You cannot launch mid level and put more money into it later when the business gets rolling and climb into a luxury status.”
One example which Lorre reflects upon is that of American leather goods artisans, Coach, and their desire to tap into the same market as iconic French fashion house, Louis Vuitton.
After investing in a select design team and a whole new production line, Coach, which was previously known for selling quality women’s purses for around $200, attempted to create a luxury range with a $3,000 price tag. Needless to say, the venture ailed, as White says, “For someone skilled in luxury marketing, the reason is obvious. What woman is going to spend $3,000 on a purse that when anyone looks at it, they see a $200 purse because of the brand’s image? Coach sells frequently in outlet stores, so their products are often available at sale prices. You will not find any sale on LV purses. True luxury brands, managed by skilled class marketers, know that you never put your products on sale.”
Interestingly, in perfecting a brand, she sees the importance of the right marketing psychology, “Many self proclaimed luxury sites give hotel and travel and product recommendations, but the person doing the evaluation does not understand the higher expectations of this group. Unless they have been trained, they are probably bringing their aspirational perspective to the evaluation. What may seem incredible to them may be a disappointment to a group that is accustomed to more.”
Certainly it is the person making the recommendations who really is paramount when guiding sales and Lorre White has ot only found real luxury, but has also harnessed the knowledge of how to maintain it. With such an unequalled reputation, as her esteemed UHNW clients will now, when shopping for real luxury, if you haven’t heard of Lorre White, then you’re just browsing.
For more information on Lorre White or to receive regular updates from across the luxury world, visit www.LuxGuru.Typepad.com Twitter: “Lorre”
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goes to (pages 12-13) of Aug issue #51