CONSUMERS

How Premiumisation Has Made The Impossible Dream of Luxury Possible

by

Sophie Maxwell

|

This is the featured image caption
Credit: This is the featured image credit

Sophie Maxwell, Insight Director at Pearlfisher, explains how a ‘mass’ desire for ‘premiumised’ products is creating a bridge between the standards of the luxury world and the mass market

Over the last decade, collaborations between luxury brands and contemporary artists have gone beyond mere artistic partnerships towards a new kind of luxury branding.

PARIS – Art and fashion have always developed side by side, for fashion, like art, often gives visual expression to the cultural zeitgeist. During the 1920s, Salvador Dalí created dresses for Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiapparelli. In the 1930s, Ferragamo’s shoes commissioned designs for advertisements from Futurist painter Lucio Venna, while Gianni Versace commissioned works from artists such as Alighiero Boetti and Roy Lichtenstein for the launch of his collections. Yves Saint Laurent’s vast art collection, recently auctioned at Christie’s in Paris, testified to his great love of art and revealed the influence of a variety of artists on his own designs.

In the 1980s, relationships between luxury brands and artists were advanced when Alain Dominique Perrin created the Fondation Cartier. In the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, a book marking the foundation’s 20th anniversary, Perrin says he makes “a connection between all the different sorts of arts, and luxury goods are a kind of art. Luxury goods are handicrafts of art, applied art.”

The Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemparain building in Paris

Sophie Maxwell, Insight Director at Pearlfisher, explains how a ‘mass’ desire for ‘premiumised’ products is creating a bridge between the standards of the luxury world and the mass market

Bardot ice cream, ‘the world’s sexiest confection: the most decadent gelato robed in graphic fantasy’

Sophie Maxwell, Insight Director at Pearlfisher, explains how a ‘mass’ desire for ‘premiumised’ products is creating a bridge between the standards of the luxury world and the mass market

Though luxury is still inherently rarefied, today our desire for it has become unrestrained. Meaning that, even in tough economic times, when value may dictate many purchases, we have continued to seek lesser or inexpensive ways to experience it. And this has created a new niche – and a ‘mass’ desire – for ‘premiumised’ products.

Whilst luxury is still the pinnacle, the gap has now dramatically closed. We expect luxury and special moments every day and by creating this bridge between the standards of the luxury world and the mass market we can now experience privilege at differing price points, making the luxury effect accessible to all. Premiumisation has made the impossible dream possible.

Food is one sector that has seen a phenomenal shift when it comes to quality and perception – and one where premiumisation is probably the most prolific and pronounced.

“ Whilst luxury is still the pinnacle, the gap has now dramatically closed ”

The benchmark was initially set in 1998 when Tesco’s Finest range created a pivotal moment for premiumisation within mass-market food. It succinctly used luxury’s visual language – black, silver, emotive language, refined and stylized photography – in a way which continues to be emulated today by its competitors as shorthand for a higher quality experience.

Expressions of premiumisation are now evolving from this established handwriting to new and more individual rhetoric. And it is worth comparing and contrasting a notable few to show the scope of the luxury influence and ideals – and to identify just where a new and more disruptive approach and evolution may be leading – or indeed narrowing – the field for the premium and luxury landscape overall.

Ask anyone to name examples of premiumisation – particularly when it comes to brand and designer collaborations – and I’m sure they would probably be able to name dozens. The list is now endless…and this is the sticking point.

This initiative has become so prolific and so abused that there needs to be a very good reason to now embrace this route. Only the very original or very best are in a position to borrow the true traits of luxury or differentiate themselves to create new limits of desirability in this way.

Mast Brothers handcrafted chocolate

Just as – if not more – prolific, however, is the focus on authenticity. We have seen a phenomenal rise of new artisanal brands across virtually every category – from confectionery to beer to personal care. And with authenticity being the driving factor of their success, we have also seen many established brands feeling the pressure to compete.

These brands have been looking for ways to redefine and refine their offer by emphasizing their substance through quality, process and craft and the provenance of their ingredients, – time-honoured luxury ideals that are re-contextualised for a new and ever growing audience.

Where the luxury/premiumisation landscape radically changes is through a new – and marked – disruption of category. We are witnessing the emergence of truly revolutionary visual languages that are bringing new energy, excitement and impact – breaking established norms – to set radically new and different premium standards.

Originating in the US, two brands are doing this in quite different but ultimately desirable ways. Mast Brothers handcrafted chocolate, hailing from Brooklyn, has bucked against the synthetic and/or traditionally gift packaged premium trend.

“ Premiumisation needs to come from the heart of the brand and be reflected in its behaviour ”

Creating a product that is proudly rustic and natural, its premium and ultimately collectible edge comes from combining truly exciting flavours (Serrano peppers, cocoa nibs, almonds and sea salt) with intriguing and purposefully naive packaging designed by friends and family.

Whilst at the other end of the scale Bardot ice cream has been positioned as ‘the world’s sexiest confection: the most decadent gelato robed in graphic fantasy’ – and it is a true menagerie of individual products housed in a monochrome and red graphic execution. Bardot has successfully met the challenge of moving an everyday and usual purchase to an unusual, sensual and captivating experience.

I make no apologies for being an unashamed foodie and for using food as the most direct analogy here. Premiumisation in this category – probably more than any other – has provided what we could term ‘inclusive exclusivity’ for one and all and is one of the most obvious categories with which to highlight and showcase the very many influences and ideals of the luxury effect.

But what does all this mean more broadly for the future of both premiumisation and the future of luxury? We want luxury to lead – and to innovate. But luxury no longer follows strict category rules or cues and instead leads on imagination and originality to assert its status.

Bardot ice cream, ‘the world’s sexiest confection: the most decadent gelato robed in graphic fantasy’

Though this does mean that copying traditional and maybe more prescriptive luxury cues is no longer an option for premiumisation. Instead, those looking to master premiumisation need to copy the luxury approach – returning to core values and quintessential beliefs to create ever more unique and individual expressions.

Premiumisation needs to come from the heart of the brand and be reflected in its behaviour – it’s about staying true to who it is, building on what makes it special and finding the most appropriate ways to heighten that specialness.

A truism maybe, but luxury makes us feel special because it is special. And we will always aspire to this more special, different and probably better quality of life. Premiumness, as with luxury, establishes difference – our difference – but at a price that can be afforded.

The parameters and ideals of luxury by their very nature are forever shifting – and for brands this means striving to drive difference to create future definitions of the ever-desirable luxury effect.

To further investigate luxury marketing on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows:

Does It Make a Difference to Consumers if a Brand is Premium or Luxury?
4 Luxury Marketing Ideas for 2013
The Art of Luxury Brand Design: The Unsung Hero?

Sophie Maxwell
Sophie Maxwell

Insight Director, Pearlfisher

For the past twelve years, Sophie has been using her eye for detail to scrutinize the visual identities of multi-national companies in every category, from finance and telecoms to personal care, beverages and luxury brands. Now, as Head of Creative Insight at Pearlfisher, she is present throughout the creative process, evaluating clientsʼ brands by identifying the value of their past and the opportunities of their future, helping us to rebuild them into stronger, more meaningful, future-proofed versions of themselves.

CONSUMERS

How Premiumisation Has Made The Impossible Dream of Luxury Possible

by

Sophie Maxwell

|

This is the featured image caption
Credit : This is the featured image credit

Sophie Maxwell, Insight Director at Pearlfisher, explains how a ‘mass’ desire for ‘premiumised’ products is creating a bridge between the standards of the luxury world and the mass market

Over the last decade, collaborations between luxury brands and contemporary artists have gone beyond mere artistic partnerships towards a new kind of luxury branding.

PARIS – Art and fashion have always developed side by side, for fashion, like art, often gives visual expression to the cultural zeitgeist. During the 1920s, Salvador Dalí created dresses for Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiapparelli. In the 1930s, Ferragamo’s shoes commissioned designs for advertisements from Futurist painter Lucio Venna, while Gianni Versace commissioned works from artists such as Alighiero Boetti and Roy Lichtenstein for the launch of his collections. Yves Saint Laurent’s vast art collection, recently auctioned at Christie’s in Paris, testified to his great love of art and revealed the influence of a variety of artists on his own designs.

In the 1980s, relationships between luxury brands and artists were advanced when Alain Dominique Perrin created the Fondation Cartier. In the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, a book marking the foundation’s 20th anniversary, Perrin says he makes “a connection between all the different sorts of arts, and luxury goods are a kind of art. Luxury goods are handicrafts of art, applied art.”

The Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemparain building in Paris

Sophie Maxwell, Insight Director at Pearlfisher, explains how a ‘mass’ desire for ‘premiumised’ products is creating a bridge between the standards of the luxury world and the mass market

Bardot ice cream, ‘the world’s sexiest confection: the most decadent gelato robed in graphic fantasy’

Sophie Maxwell, Insight Director at Pearlfisher, explains how a ‘mass’ desire for ‘premiumised’ products is creating a bridge between the standards of the luxury world and the mass market

Though luxury is still inherently rarefied, today our desire for it has become unrestrained. Meaning that, even in tough economic times, when value may dictate many purchases, we have continued to seek lesser or inexpensive ways to experience it. And this has created a new niche – and a ‘mass’ desire – for ‘premiumised’ products.

Whilst luxury is still the pinnacle, the gap has now dramatically closed. We expect luxury and special moments every day and by creating this bridge between the standards of the luxury world and the mass market we can now experience privilege at differing price points, making the luxury effect accessible to all. Premiumisation has made the impossible dream possible.

Food is one sector that has seen a phenomenal shift when it comes to quality and perception – and one where premiumisation is probably the most prolific and pronounced.

“ Whilst luxury is still the pinnacle, the gap has now dramatically closed ”

The benchmark was initially set in 1998 when Tesco’s Finest range created a pivotal moment for premiumisation within mass-market food. It succinctly used luxury’s visual language – black, silver, emotive language, refined and stylized photography – in a way which continues to be emulated today by its competitors as shorthand for a higher quality experience.

Expressions of premiumisation are now evolving from this established handwriting to new and more individual rhetoric. And it is worth comparing and contrasting a notable few to show the scope of the luxury influence and ideals – and to identify just where a new and more disruptive approach and evolution may be leading – or indeed narrowing – the field for the premium and luxury landscape overall.

Ask anyone to name examples of premiumisation – particularly when it comes to brand and designer collaborations – and I’m sure they would probably be able to name dozens. The list is now endless…and this is the sticking point.

This initiative has become so prolific and so abused that there needs to be a very good reason to now embrace this route. Only the very original or very best are in a position to borrow the true traits of luxury or differentiate themselves to create new limits of desirability in this way.

Mast Brothers handcrafted chocolate

Just as – if not more – prolific, however, is the focus on authenticity. We have seen a phenomenal rise of new artisanal brands across virtually every category – from confectionery to beer to personal care. And with authenticity being the driving factor of their success, we have also seen many established brands feeling the pressure to compete.

These brands have been looking for ways to redefine and refine their offer by emphasizing their substance through quality, process and craft and the provenance of their ingredients, – time-honoured luxury ideals that are re-contextualised for a new and ever growing audience.

Where the luxury/premiumisation landscape radically changes is through a new – and marked – disruption of category. We are witnessing the emergence of truly revolutionary visual languages that are bringing new energy, excitement and impact – breaking established norms – to set radically new and different premium standards.

Originating in the US, two brands are doing this in quite different but ultimately desirable ways. Mast Brothers handcrafted chocolate, hailing from Brooklyn, has bucked against the synthetic and/or traditionally gift packaged premium trend.

“ Premiumisation needs to come from the heart of the brand and be reflected in its behaviour ”

Creating a product that is proudly rustic and natural, its premium and ultimately collectible edge comes from combining truly exciting flavours (Serrano peppers, cocoa nibs, almonds and sea salt) with intriguing and purposefully naive packaging designed by friends and family.

Whilst at the other end of the scale Bardot ice cream has been positioned as ‘the world’s sexiest confection: the most decadent gelato robed in graphic fantasy’ – and it is a true menagerie of individual products housed in a monochrome and red graphic execution. Bardot has successfully met the challenge of moving an everyday and usual purchase to an unusual, sensual and captivating experience.

I make no apologies for being an unashamed foodie and for using food as the most direct analogy here. Premiumisation in this category – probably more than any other – has provided what we could term ‘inclusive exclusivity’ for one and all and is one of the most obvious categories with which to highlight and showcase the very many influences and ideals of the luxury effect.

But what does all this mean more broadly for the future of both premiumisation and the future of luxury? We want luxury to lead – and to innovate. But luxury no longer follows strict category rules or cues and instead leads on imagination and originality to assert its status.

Bardot ice cream, ‘the world’s sexiest confection: the most decadent gelato robed in graphic fantasy’

Though this does mean that copying traditional and maybe more prescriptive luxury cues is no longer an option for premiumisation. Instead, those looking to master premiumisation need to copy the luxury approach – returning to core values and quintessential beliefs to create ever more unique and individual expressions.

Premiumisation needs to come from the heart of the brand and be reflected in its behaviour – it’s about staying true to who it is, building on what makes it special and finding the most appropriate ways to heighten that specialness.

A truism maybe, but luxury makes us feel special because it is special. And we will always aspire to this more special, different and probably better quality of life. Premiumness, as with luxury, establishes difference – our difference – but at a price that can be afforded.

The parameters and ideals of luxury by their very nature are forever shifting – and for brands this means striving to drive difference to create future definitions of the ever-desirable luxury effect.

To further investigate luxury marketing on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows:

Does It Make a Difference to Consumers if a Brand is Premium or Luxury?
4 Luxury Marketing Ideas for 2013
The Art of Luxury Brand Design: The Unsung Hero?

Sophie Maxwell
Sophie Maxwell

Insight Director, Pearlfisher

For the past twelve years, Sophie has been using her eye for detail to scrutinize the visual identities of multi-national companies in every category, from finance and telecoms to personal care, beverages and luxury brands. Now, as Head of Creative Insight at Pearlfisher, she is present throughout the creative process, evaluating clientsʼ brands by identifying the value of their past and the opportunities of their future, helping us to rebuild them into stronger, more meaningful, future-proofed versions of themselves.

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