When consultancy Bain & Company reported on current trends in the global luxury markets, there was a really interesting insight toward the end - almost throwaway, but extremely telling: the growing popularity of designer-consignment and resale. "Recently, we have witnessed a revamp of the second hand-market, fostered by an online revolution," notes Claudia D’Arpizio, a Bain partner in Milan and lead author of the study. She explains that an active second-hand market actually gives new luxury goods a well-defined re-sell price, which turns them into durables - thus increasing their value.
Well-heeled (literally & figuratively) consumers buying pre-loved luxury reflects a broader trend in the high-end of the shopping market. "It used to be that a luxury buying experience involved dressing up and going into a high-end boutique to consult with a salesperson on what to buy and enjoying a glass of champagne while it was being carefully wrapped up for you," explains Ariel Adams, an expert on luxury watches. "You’d feel proud to exit the shop with your branded shopping bags and something about spending a lot of money on yourself or a loved one felt good – as though the treat was deserved...The buying experience was oftentimes more important than the product itself or brand name."
Which all changed as consumers with cash to burn began to realize the allure of obtaining their little hearts' desires without needing to bother getting dressed up. "Much more appealing than having to leave one’s home or office to buy something was being able to shop on their schedule," continues Adams, "and on their own terms - possibly in their underwear." Typically, if you're high income, you're pretty low on time, which online shopping is well suited for.
Adams observes that a interesting shift occurred when the wealthy began ignoring the "historic" luxury buying experience. Why? Because they fell in love with the products themselves. Which made me wonder: what is it about products that changed, causing consumers to fall in love? Are they better made? More exclusive? Or better marketed?
Probably the latter.
"In the world of luxury products, experience and perception are far more important than utility," adds Adams. "Like other products, luxury products are part of the media many consumers consume." In other words, luxury products are now just another form of media. Now that's an interesting thought.
- Lesley Scott
This post was about the Supremium fashion tribe - spendy, style-conscious fashionistas that enjoy jetsetting, globetrotting and shopping their way across the globe. For more of my posts about the Supremiums, CLICK HERE. To learn more about each of fashion's four mega-tribes that I track, START HERE.