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It Takes More than Superior Quality and High Price to Create a New Luxury Brand

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As ‘new luxury’ replaces ‘old luxury’ in the consumer marketplace, luxury marketers must embrace a new luxury branding paradigm to build and sustain their luxury brand. In Pam Danziger’s latest book, Let Them Eat Cake: Marketing Luxury to the Masses—as Well as the Classes (Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2005, $27, hardcover) she explains how marketers can’t rely anymore simply upon creating the ‘best of the best’ product to capture the attention of today’s new luxury consumer. “The bar has been raised in the ‘new luxury’ market. It isn’t enough anymore to just design a fabulous, luxurious product and offer it as the ultimate luxury,” Danziger explains. “Luxury marketers have to do more. They must enhance the luxury experience that the product promises to deliver.” Through research among luxury consumers (incomes of $75,000 or more, representing the top 25 percent of U.S. households) and profiles of ‘new luxury’ marketers, including American Express, KitchenAid, Starwood Properties, Polo Ralph Lauren and Crystal Cruises, Let Them Eat Cake offers specific, actionable advice to marketers about building a new luxury brand. The ‘New Luxury’ Branding Paradigm ‘New luxury’ marketers must focus on the experience for the consumer — how their product or service delivers a feeling of luxury throughout the entire buying and consumption process. “Superior quality still counts, but a lot more than just great product is expected from the luxuries people buy,” says Danziger. The keys to building a ‘new luxury’ brand boil down to a few ideas: -A luxury brand must be expansive: It must be a big idea that gives the marketer new places to venture and new opportunities to meet in the consumers’ personal life. There are no instant luxury brands and the truly great ones have been around for decades, even a century. They keep reinventing themselves over and over again. Burberry, for example, was founded in 1856, yet it is one of the hottest luxury brands today. -A luxury brand must tell a story: Story telling is a fundamental way human’s transmit and process information. Brand recognition is no substitute for brand connection and it’s through brand stories where consumers can connect. It through brand story telling that corporate strategy connects with the consumer. Polo Ralph Lauren’s brand embodies totally different worlds or stories presented through their different product lines that the customer can try on and become part of. -A luxury brand must be relevant to the consumers’ needs: A luxury brand must be relevant to consumers needs, meeting their passions and desires emotionally and physically. And a luxury brand must stay relevant as luxury consumers’ needs change, thus the necessity to have an expansive brand that gives marketers room to grow. For example, Unity Marketing’s research has shown that the luxury dining experience is primarily defined by the service personnel, the atmosphere, and the way customers are treated in the dining roo! m. Fine food, on the other hand, is simply taken for granted. This finding has huge implications for the restaurateur who devotes 80 percent of his or her time to what is happening in the kitchen. Rather, to align their restaurant with the luxury expectations of the consumer, they should be spending 80 percent of their effort on the dining room. -A luxury brand must align with consumers’ values: Consumers are bringing a new sensibility into the marketplace that is about more than having and getting. They want their consumerism to provide a greater meaning and they are looking to ‘do good’ when they shop. A new magazine called Plenty is written for a socially- responsible and ecologically-conscious consumer, who values the finer things in life, like organic food, designer clothes and elegant furniture made from sustainable resources. Plenty presents an editorial point of view that celebrates ‘plenty,’ not in the sense of luxurious, over-the-top living, but ‘plenty’ as reflected in a plentiful lifestyle based upon making the right choices in terms of our planet’s natural resources. -A luxury brand must perform for the consumer: The experience of a luxury brand all comes down to how well the brand performs its experiential duties for the customer. If it makes him or her feel wonderful, special, unique, as well as performing its specific material role or purpose wonderfully, whether it be a cooking pan, an evening dress, a set of sheets, or a new PDA, then it meets the consumers’ performance expectations. It is luxury. Performance, therefore, becomes the new ‘P’ in the luxury marketing and b! randing equation. For media, a review copy of Let Them Eat Cake is available upon request. Pam Danziger has prepared a new white paper entitled “The Six Myths of Luxury Branding — How to Build a ‘New Luxury’ Brand” available free with registration at http://www.unitymarketingonline.com/downloadPDF2.php

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