The following is a re-print of a Coldwell Banker Previews Inside Out discussion with the Luxury Institute’s Milton Pedraza, Luxury Daily editor Mickey Alam Khan and Forbes’ Millennial reporter Larissa Faw, which aimed to uncover what Millennials really want when it comes to luxury.
Previews Inside Out: What does the next generation of luxury consumers want from brands today?
Milton Pedraza: Across the generations, millennials, Gen Xers and boomers all want the best in design, quality and craftsmanship, along with great service.
Mickey Alam Khan: The next generation of luxury consumers want to build stronger emotional connections with brands. They not only want to experience the products in-store, but also via digital media such as online and mobile. They also want to feel good about their luxury acquisitions from an ecological standpoint. In other words, the next generation of luxury consumers want to see authenticity, digital savvy and environmental nobility from their favorite luxury brands.
Larissa Faw: The key words are “make them feel special.” They want to be the only ones able to experience that product or opportunity. The worst thing in the world is to be mass and beige. Everywhere and generic. Coach got itself into trouble because it opened up an outlet shop in every city. It became overly accessible to everyone. The worst thing for luxury buyers is when some downscale shopper has the same item. That is the kiss of death for affluent shoppers. That brand is no longer luxury.
Milton Pedraza: Hey, and also respect brand heritage! But only as long as the brand stays relevant to them.
Previews Inside Out: There was a recent survey published in Luxury Daily that found the majority of affluent consumers have a different definition of luxury than they did five years ago. What do you think the definition of luxury is today?
Mickey Alam Khan: One of the biggest changes in the last few years has been the shift in the luxury-consumption mindset from “I have” to “I experience.” So it’s gone from simply material acquisition to a collection of exquisite memories to be cherished for a long time from unique experiences. That said, as defined by Luxury Daily, luxury must have these time-proven qualities: exceptional craftsmanship and customer service, brand authenticity, limited distribution and high perceived value. That hasn’t changed.
Larissa Faw: Once upon a time, luxury meant price. You almost just knew something was a luxury product because it was insanely expensive. Now, luxury means exclusivity and authenticity. One-of-a-kind items that come from a true place. A product can be $5, but if it is the only one and rare, that is luxury.
Milton Pedraza: Today’s luxury consumers also demand demonstrated expertise, trustworthiness and generosity from the brand ambassadors. These days, they also prefer a brand with a social conscience that treats associates, clients, suppliers and the less fortunate in society like human beings. Along with the best product, that is what creates an extraordinary experience for most.
Previews Inside Out: Do you think millennials are partly responsible for this shift? How so?
Mickey Alam Khan: Yes, the millennial generation is quite responsible for the shift in luxury’s definition. This generation is digitally savvy and is responsible for the evolving approach in marketing and retailing. Presence on social media enables brands to stay connected with their younger customers and prospects, dialoguing with them in the lingua franca of the day.
Milton Pedraza: Yes, the millennials, with their more humanistic values, are influencing the business world to deliver extraordinary product innovations, but also extraordinary human empowerment with kindness.