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The new audience for luxury

Is China ready yet to take up the mantle of world’s biggest luxury consumer, or is the rest of the world still alive and kicking? This week it was reported that one in four Bentley’s are sold in China, meanwhile The Economist states that a “mere 1.4% of urban households make more than $15,000 a year, and only 11% make $5,000-15,000″. So who is this new audience? Zeitgeist can tell you anecdotally that there are lot of 20-somethings in the West who feel like luxury brands aren’t addressing them at all. There’s a dual tension here between old money and new, between understated chic and extravagant opulence. Groups populated by customers who are actually very different in their spending habits, but are grouped under the generic umbrella of “luxury” all the same.

Zeitgeist wrote a couple of months ago about a car brand that played on tenets of luxury to extol its own values; in the above video Audi does the same. What type of customer do you think it’s courting?

  1. May 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Not convinced that Audi or Chrysler are luxury brands in their own right. I think they err on the side of luxury (esp. in their comms where they try to be aspirational), but fall down by their price into a murky territory known as “premium”. I think both brands (in different ways tonally) are playing off luxury – in Audi’s case, playfully mocking typical notions of wealth.

    Could it be that ‘luxury’ in itself has started to spread its wings, incorporating more than it ever has and becoming a bloated category. Aston Martin and Audi are in hugely different product categories, but i’m sure that the Audi brand would like to think it turns the heads of some Aston owners.

    Great article – one half of zeitgeist. 🙂

  2. davidllewelynjones
    June 1, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Quite agree that Chrysler and Audi don’t belong in the same zip code as Aston as far as luxury is concerned. However if you were to look at the official designations awarded to the brands by the arbiters of the industry*, you would see that, shockingly, they are indeed categorised as being “luxury”.

    It’s a problem that’s not merely restricted to the automotive sector; just take a look at the number of vodka brands that consider themselves “luxury”. The moniker has become, ahem, diluted, no pun intended.

    The lines blur further of course in fashion. When Lagerfeld designs for H&M, is that luxury? Are items less luxurious when bought in a department store, or, worse, Bicester Village?

    The value of luxury has many parameters, and is certainly being shaken up post-recession as people slowly begin to feel their PIN fingers itching once more.

    Watch this space.


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