MediAvataar's News Desk
What is luxury? So posed the question, quite literally, by the V&A Museum in a recent exhibition. On the bright Spring day that day I visited, it was both telling and unsurprising to be entranced by the expectant queue for the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty snaking around the foyer, while visitors slipped slowly in and out of the What is luxury? exhibition. Telling, perhaps, of the magnetic power of a brand to drive demand and desire…
Back to our question: What is luxury? Luxury has always defied single definition. If we think back to early examples of luxury creation and consumption in ancient Classical civilization, already a polarisation around luxury was evident. On the one hand, luxury was a concept that was vehemently denied and rejected by the Spartans, on the other it was demonstrably embraced and celebrated (to excess) by the Macedonians. As classicist and historian Dr. Michael Scott explained in an exclusive interview, these different behaviours towards luxury were playing out in the emergence of new words (truphe; poluteles; habrosune) to express different sentiments towards luxury. A new vocabulary of luxury was already in contention.
Today, ‘luxury’ remains one of the most problematised terms in business language. Conversations around what luxury means will range from the external to the internal, from statements of status to a deeper sense of discovery and learning, from the superficial and superfluous, to truly unique products and experiences that will be treasured for a lifetime. The world still has a love-hate relationship with luxury.
What is consistent through the ages, is that we understand luxury differently dependent upon culture. This was our starting point when we undertook our research to examine the meaning of luxury, culminating in the publication of Meta-luxury: brands and the culture of excellence in 2012. When a branded t-shirt and a unique, one-of-a-kind supercar, crafted to the highest specification and bearing the mark of the craftsman can both be called ‘luxury’, clearly we have a problem.
In the research that we undertook, in seeking to understand the true heart of luxury and the implications for brand and business management, the conclusion that we arrived at was excellence and specifically a culture of excellence. Leading luxury brands have always set the standard. They have led the way. In their pursuit of perfection, in their quest for excellence, they break the rules, they challenge the norm, they test the limits of innovation. To the consumer, the creations and experiences afforded by these brands represent an ultimate in desire and fulfillment.
As we explored brands through the lens of a culture of excellence, we asked how many brands actually represent a unique achievement? How many of them are based on distinctive knowledge of some kind? How many are interested in their place in history? Through the concept of Unique Achievement and the drivers of demand of Craftsmanship, Focus, History and Rarity, meta-luxury is a business model that reflects the culture of excellence, drawing a clear line between luxury as a convention and excellence as an authentic conviction.
Three years on from Meta-luxury entering the public domain, it is an interesting point of reflection and prediction to look at what those drivers of Craftsmanship, Focus, History and Rarity mean today. And crucially what they mean for the luxury consumers of tomorrow.
Perhaps the real question to be asked and engaged with is what does luxury mean for a consumer in the Age of You? If we take a step back and consider how brands have evolved over the years, we can begin to chart a fascinating series of dynamics that have played out, the current culmination of which will have considerable ramifications for everyone in the privileged position of guardians of luxury brands around the world.
Brands have evolved and emerged through a series of what we might term as different ‘Ages’:
The Age of Identity, where brand acted as a tool to identify and differentiate and where brand messaging was articulated primarily via one-way communication.
The Age of Value where brand was used to inform and improve decision-making and where brand performance was measured in its ability to deliver financial returns to the business.
The Age of Experience where brand became the higher purpose that inspired a connected ecosystem.
And ultimately, we arrive at the cusp and emergence of The Age of You, where brand is becoming the consumer’s partner. Brand experiences will be unique to the individual and highly customised based on personal information and brand performance is measured in its ability to capture and leverage data and engender participation.
Across those eras, the role of brand has shifted, from brand as a monologue, to brand as a dialogue, to brand as a communal experience, and, now, to brand as a truly personalized and curated experience created around each and every one of us.
In the Age of You, enabled by intelligent infrastructure and powered by big data, the leading brands will develop integrated ecosystems of experiences and reshape the world around us. As people and devices become more connected and everything becomes "smarter," businesses are recognising the need to reorganize themselves around ‘you’. As a result, each of us will become our own marketplace or "mecosystem." As "intelligent everything" meets the mecosystems of the future, brands will have unprecedented opportunity to create context, creative possibilities, and meaning for individuals—and value for all. And therein lies the challenge.
We see the first surge of this debate rippling through the luxury industry. Condé Nast hosted their first luxury conference this Spring, with Suzy Menkes leading the debate on ‘Hard Luxury’ and how the concept of luxury is evolving. The FT Business of luxury discussed ‘Technology, Legacy and the New Consumer’. The forthcoming International New York Times Luxury Conference will look at ‘Luxury beyond product’ and connecting with consumer value systems. The consistent thread is around what we value and why. Why, how and in what form does luxury fit into the mecosystems of individuals?
Fundamentally, luxury brands are arguably more uniquely placed to thrive in The Age of You, as the very concept of personalisation, of the unique and bespoke has been the beating heart of these brands for centuries. And as we reflect on the manifestation of meta-luxury as a culture and business model in The Age of You, we see this already resonating in a number of indicators. Craftsmanship derives from the very premise of demand and desire of something created by an individual for an individual. And we’re seeing a distinct gravitation towards quality of product and an enhanced role of the aesthetic. As we look at the purchase behaviour of affluents, it is telling to see greater primacy towards the understated aesthetic and towards brands such as Céline and Bottega Veneta. The inimitable words of Bottega Veneta seem to encapsulate it beautifully: “When your own initials are enough.” History as a driver in meta-luxury is about the creative tension of tradition and innovation. It is about how brands carry forward their origins into the future, staying true to their DNA and making it relevant for new generations. Never before has this been more vital or valuable for brands.
One of the most powerful dynamics in the Age of You is the knowledge economy. The assertion of the self is on an inexorable rise, and concomitant with that is the desire to demonstrate one’s own knowledge capital. There is a value to the personal economy of being ‘in the know’ about brands that remain otherwise off the radar to others. There is a value in Focus, in a depth of specialisation, in the exacting lens of a brand which commands aspiration and desire above others. There is a value in a brand that has opened up a window onto its world that is not available to others.
In The Age of You, the fine line between what luxury brands reveal and conceal as they engage with the transparency demanded of consumers and the element of mystery that is endemic to their very being, will be fascinating to watch.
Authored by Rebecca Robins,Director EMEA LatAm, for Interbrand
Humsa Dhir has joined MSM as Senior Vice-President (SVP) & Head – PR & Corporate Communications for the network. In this newly created role, she will lead MSM’s PR and Communications strategy and execute on pivotal campaigns, programs and activities that advance the network’s brand image and reputation. Humsa will report into NP Singh, CEO, MSM Network.
Humsa has over 19 years of work experience across Advertising, Public Relations, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs; having worked for the India, South Asia and Middle East markets. For the last three companies that she worked in, she has set up and established from scratch the Corporate Communications function; encompassing marketing and brand communication, investor and media relations as well as communications around employee engagement.
Commenting on the appointment, Mr. NP Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd said, “We are delighted to welcome Humsa as our Corporate Communications lead. We believe Humsa’s well-grounded, robust experience across different aspects of communications will enable her to play a very intrinsic role in the network as she charts a strategic direction to shape the network’s reputation amongst its multiple stakeholders. She has our unflinching support to execute on this commitment.”
Prior to joining MSM, Humsa was with AkzoNobel India, where she managed the communications and Public affairs portfolio for the entire organization including its various business verticals. Her responsibilities stretched from building and managing the corporate brand to overseeing reputational matters, including crises. Internal communications as well as CSR were also central to her responsibilities. Some of Humsa’s previous work stints have been with Suzlon, the Eicher group, RK Swamy BBDO as well as J Walter Thompson.
Humsa has a Master’s degree in Communications from the Department of Communication Studies, Pune University. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry (Hons.) from Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University.
Zee Studio presents a compelling set of movies this September, all month long to enthral its audiences.
Your hunt for entertainment comes to an end as Zee Studio brings to you some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters on properties like ‘Prime Time Players’, ‘The Terrific Weekend’, ‘Super Size Saturdays’ and ‘Lethal Women’.
The one movie that is a must watch for September is the channel premiere of World War Z on 13th September at 9:00pm. Catch the Brad Pitt blockbuster only on Zee Studio.
Watch the most Lethal Women in Hollywood at their ass kicking best starting 10th September, every Thursday at 11:00pm. Catch movies like Bounty Hunter, Lara Croft: Cradle of Life, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans and Aeonflux all month long.
Zee Studio will continue to thrill you with The Terrific Weekend, the channel’s newest programming innovation, which will showcase Indian television premieres of Four 2 and Four 3 on 26th & 27th September at 9:00 pm.
Also watch blockbuster movies back to back all through the day on Super Size Saturdays airing movies every Saturday 8:00am to 9:00pm only on Zee Studio.
Don’t miss out on the blockbuster movies starring top Hollywood actors like Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo Di Caprio, Benedict Cumberbatch and many more. Best of the few best movies like Italian Job, Catch Me If You Can, Eagle Eye, GI: Retaliation and Star Trek Into Darkness will be aired in the 7:00pm slot. This property will feature every Monday-Friday at 7:00pm, starting 7th September.
This September stay tuned on Zee Studio to See it All!
Thriving on the success of the previous events, Society for Technology Management is holding its annual meet, STEM Annual Summit on 26th and 27th November, 2015 in Hyderabad, India. The STEM summit is differentiated as the only platform in India for technology transfer professionals across industry and academia.
The annual summit supports technology transfer professionals in their endeavor to accelerate commercialization of innovation. As in the past, the two day event will converge all stakeholders in the evolving innovation ecosystem in India including policymakers and public funders, academicians, industry representatives, technology transfer and intellectual property professionals from India and abroad.
The summit also aims to bridge the gap between industry and academia in India and provides an exclusive podium for interaction between researchers and industry professionals. It provides a powerful networking and professional development platform for researchers to learn about funding opportunities and product development imperatives to enhance commercialization opportunity and provides industry professionals much needed knowledge of efforts in Indian institutions. The 2015 summit also includes a Technology Showcasing event with participation from several leading R&D institutions.
Mr. K. Vijayaraghavan, Honorary President of STEM says, “The technology licensing professionals are transforming the landscape of innovation acceleration in India. STEM annual meetings provide IP management and Technology Licensing Professionals the needed technical and strategic exposure while triggering enormous opportunity for Professional networking and engagement,”
CouponDunia, India's leading destination for coupons and discounts, today announced the appointment of Krishna Iyer as Vice President-Revenue. He will be responsible for accelerating sales, expanding the reach and ensuring brand’s overall growth.
Krishna Iyer comes to CouponDunia with an impressive 12 years’ experience in Sales, Account Management, Strategy & Leadership experience of which 10 years have been in the digital space. Prior to joining CouponDunia, Krishna Iyer was AVP – Media Sales at Quikr.com and was responsible for evangelizing, building web and mobile revenue properties. His mandate was to create a monetization stream that was media and brand centric.
On his appointment, Mr. Sameer Parwani, CEO, CouponDunia said, "Krishna will be instrumental in driving CouponDunia's next phase of growth with his robust expertise in sales and strategy. His prior experience working in key roles at two rapidly expanding start-ups makes him well suited to the challenges ahead at CouponDunia. We are excited to have him on board."
Upon being asked of his association with CouponDunia- “Online coupons and its usage is growing extremely fast in India and CouponDunia is leading this change. This role will give me a chance to interact with brands across verticals and offer them online and offline reach that CouponDunia enjoys and showcase this platform as an effective marketing channel. I look forward to working with CouponDunia and helping build a sustainable and targetable customer outreach brand” says Iyer.
Prior to Quikr.com, he was the youngest member of the leadership team and as VP – Media Partnerships, he lead the ad sales and affiliate partnership functions at ixigo.com. His earlier work experiences include customer-centric companies such as DirectI, Firewall and Komli Media. Krishna Iyer is a Management Graduate from Mumbai University where he specialized in Marketing and also holds a Diploma in Event Management.