Luxury real estate marketing professionals need to stay abreast of current etiquette when conversing with high net worth clients. Economic conditions tend to affect the degree of conspicuous or inconspicuous consumption. But, is flaunting one's wealth ever in style?
To quote 12/25/08, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Star and Tribune article titled New Recessionary Etiquette: Luxury Shame?
"Across office suites, dinner parties and foundation boardrooms, inconspicuous consumption is the new recessionary etiquette. To do otherwise at a time when neighbors and family members are getting pink-slipped is considered simply poor taste. The tokens of success -- a Cartier timepiece, Christian Louboutin shoes -- are being worn more discreetly, or not at all."
Given the current economic conditions and the propensity of the media and talking heads to point out the downfall of the luxury retail market this holiday season, the following question comes to mind: Is luxury itself out of style?
The answer is NO. The essence of luxury is an object or a service that is well made/well done. Again the governing concept of an item is that is of exceptional craftsmanship which implies its long lasting value. A great service implies that you will return for that great service over and over again because it is worth it. The very well to do populace is not the only ones who buy luxury. There are quite a few people who may buy an item because of its "superior quality or performance." They understand that because it is a superior product, its longevity will make the purchase an economically sound decision.
There are people who will drive their Mercedes for 20-30 years. Divide the original purchase price by the number of years, and you will discover that given the performance and the lasting quality with which the vehicle is built, it is a bargain. In addition the resale value is higher, and if the model is sought after by collectors, it resale can be astronomically more than its original purchase price. A well made piece of furniture last lifetimes and is often passed from generation to generation. An authentic Chippendale is worth a fortune on today's market. With falling prices on many durable luxury items, those in the know are purchasing them.
The same could not be said about some luxury purchases. If one were to purchase a pair of satin Christian Louboutin shoes for $1500, the chances of those shoes surviving into the next century are not so great, even though they are well made and well crafted. The intention here is not to condemn the purchase but to illustrate the concept of long term luxury. It is possible that the wearer may be so careful as to avoid every possible scuff and not damage them at all and hand them off to a granddaughter with the same exact shoe size at some point in time!
What is out of style and what has always been out of style is in your face luxury i.e. bragging about and flaunting recent purchases. Etiquette is a lifelong pursuit and is not dependent on economic conditions to practice it. It depends on one's understanding and appreciation of all the conditions that life has to offer and reacting to them in a gracious manner.
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This is part of our series on Luxury Real Estate Marketing and Real Estate Branding.