Exclusivity is far more important than luxury, according to the Sybaritic Single. With brands like Louis Vuitton and Four Seasons growing so rapidly, amassing enormous global customer databases, can they remain true luxury? Have they become accessible to too many?
The paradox of the luxury sector is that its economic success has eroded the word: Hermès never uses it, nor does Porsche. Even LVMH refrain from using the word luxury in its newest corporate website, favouring: excellence, dream, exceptional and exquisite.
Because the word has lost its meaning, they need to reconnect their “maisons” (a less commercial name than brand) to luxury true meaning by going back to an explanatory vocabulary, periphrases and narratives.
Gone are the days when the Sybaritic Single would spend eight hours flying to Hong Kong because The Ritz-Carlton have opened their 900th new hotel of the year.
Today, truly high-end consumers abandon mainstream labels for even more expensive brands or bespoke goods and stays. The challenge for the luxury conglomerates is to hold onto the core middle class and nouveau riche consumers while also trying to win back the richest ones.
Some big luxury names carve niche segments for the truly wealthy – in form of high jewellery, custom orders or unique money-cannot-buy experiences. Others, like Chanel and Dorchester, inflate prices in attempt to distance themselves from the rest and preserve evaporating exclusivity: the medium Chanel flap bag doubled from €4,400 in 2012 to €8,800 in 2022 while the smallest room at Hotel Plaza Athénée jumped from €800 to €1,800 in just three years.
Smaller luxury players like Aman and Graff scrutinize their growth plans, put brand image above revenue, and focus even more on serving a very limited but the most grateful clientele.
With a serious overdose of daily luxury, the Sybaritic Single thinks again as he pops another bottle of Dom Pérignon for breakfast. Has this brand also become too mainstream? He was about to compare it with Moët et Chandon but in reality, DP is, indeed, a glorified and more exclusive version of MC.