Luxury is no longer defi ned by scarcity and privilege, but rather through more down-to-earth authentic human experiences that create unforgettable moments worth sharing. (2018)
This past year two unlikely restaurants from Singapore made it into the coveted Michelin Guide. They were not the five star establishments you might have expected. Instead, they were two street vendor food stalls and their achievement was just the latest example of the ongoing blurring of lines between top-tier fine dining and everyday gourmet.
This is also an example of a larger trend we call "Approachable Luxury" – describing the idea that selling modern luxury requires that the experience offer more value than the product. As more upwardly mobile professionals move back into urban areas instead of expanding outward into suburbs, space has become more of a premium. The predictable result is that the quest for more stuff has less appeal.
What happens when this new consumer mentality of experience-above-all-else meets the traditional mindset of how luxury has always been sold, through a combination of perceived scarcity, price-based discrimination, and celebrity-induced longing?
Our research suggests that a new focus on Approachable Luxury will separate the brands that survive from those who don’t. This trend is already driving some of the most exclusive brands in the world to seek out new non-obvious ways to retain their cachet while still finding ways to be more human, authentic, and even down to earth.
Just hearing the term luxury at once used to feel exclusive and perhaps slightly out of reach. Today this is changing as luxury brands seek new ways to be relevant without intentionally walling themselves off from large groups of consumers. Luxury will most likely always rely on some level of scarcity.
It is hard to offer a luxury experience if it is easily available for anyone at any time. But the quest for brands to think and act in more human ways is bringing attention a new form of Approachable Luxury—one that will not only engage consumers more deeply, but will also help brands create products and experiences that are so memorable that consumers won’t be able to stop talking about them.