Thursday, August 11

The State of the Luxury Market

It's been a rough week for Americans ... I don't even know where to begin.  The economy has us all in such a spin, we don't know which way is up.  One of my colleagues at the agency found an interesting article that deserves some attention, particularly in light of this week's events.

What's your experience, Micole?  Jim.

The market’s 600-point plunge on Monday got me thinking about a recent piece by Stephanie Clifford in the New York Times about the rebound of the luxury market.

Since the media has been touting the supposed market recovery over the past year, the uber-affluent have finally felt safe to splurge again.  Whereas they may have kept their distance from obvious signs of excess such as designer labels, new cars, etc. in the past few years, the upbeat media take on the state of the economy has provided the affluent with a new lease on luxury living and spending.  Now that the pendulum has swung right back to crash mode, how will the market respond?  And how will luxury brands market their products in these unpredictable times?
Frugality has become downright chic.  Just think about it – Michelle Obama, whose every sartorial decision is chronicled lovingly on New York Mag’s The Cut Michelle Obama Look Book (LOVE!), has championed the high-low look and has managed to escape any criticism of going to excess.  Kate Middleton and royal sis Pippa recycle their ready-to-wear looks to nodding approval worldwide.  If these ladies can’t go all-out posh, who can?  (Victoria Beckham and Rachel Zoe are aberrant – they just don’t count!)

It seems though, that when a brand or product is tied to a message of values or charitable program, the ban is lifted and a purchase can be justified.  Have you seen Angelina Jolie lounging on a river boat in Cambodia with her Louis Vuitton?  Admired Bono and wife Ali Hewson with their Vuittons in Africa where they’ve raised millions with their Product Red campaign?  Purchased any number of cosmetics or clothing with proceeds benefiting cancer research/treatment? 

To my mind this approach allows a luxury brand to promote creativity and continue producing the very best while doing good for the world.  You just can’t argue with the quality charitable programs initiated by upscale brands that have made a difference in the lives of many people worldwide. 

Did I hear that the purchase of that fall bag I’ve been eyeing benefits families in need?  When my wallet allows, I’m buying!

- Micole Cohen Richter from Lippe Taylor

Jim Joseph
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect 

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