Modern luxury brands are evolving their offer to meet the changing tastes of consumers around the world. In some markets the heritage and timelessness of a product represents the ultimate hallmarks of luxury, while in others the focus is on the experience or exclusivity of the service.
New research reveals that different brands resonate with consumers in different areas of the world, according to which aspects of the luxury experience they most favour. The Kadence Luxury Index 2018 surveyed 5,775 consumers in 13 markets about their opinions around eight different components of luxury.
Quality emerges as the number one driver of luxury, followed by history, status, distinctiveness, timelessness, the feel-good factor, the experiential nature of the brand and exclusivity.
The research finds the more a brand is perceived to have an established story, the stronger the perception is of it being a luxury brand. Furthermore, brands known for using quality materials, craftsmanship or for consistently delivering a service that exceeds expectations are also more likely to have a high luxury score.
Globally, the data shows the car industry is considered the most luxurious, followed by jewellery, watches, airlines, fashion, hotels and alcohol.
Looking more specifically, jewellery and watch label Cartier emerges as the most luxurious brand, followed by Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Tiffany, BMW, Rolex, Porsche and Bulgari.
The research also shows that brands which resonate with consumers in the West are often different from those that are most popular among people in the East. While Cartier, Rolls-Royce and Tiffany top the list of most luxurious brands in the West, for example, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and BMW are the most luxurious brands according to consumers in Asia.
Looking at the specific luxury characteristics, Cartier is voted as the most timeless, feel-good and exclusive brand, as well as being considered the biggest status symbol globally. Mercedes is the brand rated as strongest for history, while Rolls-Royce claims the top spot for quality. Worldwide, Lamborghini scores highest in terms of distinctiveness and being an experiential brand.
Italian luxury car brand Maserati comes in at number nine on the list of experiential brands, behind jeweller Chopard but ahead of BMW.
Earlier this month the car manufacturer launched its first UK TV campaign, aimed at boosting spontaneous awareness and positioning the brand as “significantly more exclusive” than rivals BMW, Audi and Mercedes.
Maserati general manager Mike Biscoe sees the quality of the product and materials as essential elements of luxury. Although increasingly exclusivity, especially the ability to personalise the product, is becoming more important.
“Globally, I think distinctiveness and the desire for individuality are important if I look at the market we’re in today and the competitors we are operating against,” says Biscoe.
“The likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes are probably selling in excess of two million cars a year globally. A brand like Porsche is selling something like 250,000 cars a year globally versus Maserati which last year sold just over 50,000 cars. Maserati is far more exclusive a brand and therefore that appeals to this sense of individuality and distinctiveness, which I think also leads into the desire for more personalisation as well.”
The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain emerges as the eighth most luxurious brand in the Kadence Luxury Index 2018 among Western customers, just behind Lamborghini but ahead of Rolex.
Lisa Holladay, global brand leader at The Ritz-Carlton, sees luxury as being rooted in a combination of quality, comfort and elegance, alongside an element of scarcity, authenticity and, increasingly, distinctiveness.
She explains that whereas in the past luxury often felt prescribed, today it is defined by the customer and is therefore less formal, more personal and increasingly takes into account different tastes and cultural references.
“As the world has become more globalised people are also searching for products that are authentic or unique. There is also an increased desire for transparency from brands, so consumers can seek out brands that align with their personal values,” says Holladay.
The Ritz-Carlton is focused on giving a destination-driven experience, which it believes the modern luxury traveller is seeking. For this reason each hotel is designed to tell a story and connect guests to their location. This was underlined by the company’s latest brand initiative #RCMemories, which sought to immerse guests in the local culture with events such as the ‘Dance of Thanks to the Sea’, a traditional dance which takes place at sunset on the beach at The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi in Malaysia.
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