Corona and the 4 Types of Luxury Consumer

Corona and the 4 Types of Luxury Consumer

I recorded a podcast with two professors at Parsons a few days ago. They asked me to discuss how COVID-19 might affect luxury consumer buying behavior.

In preparation, I was reminded of something consumer behaviour expert Michael Solomon and I addressed in our book, Why Fashion Brands Die.

We pulled core data from a study* that broke down the four types of luxury consumers, as defined by behavior.

Proletarians are the largest group overall. They don’t buy luxury because they have neither the money nor interest. (At least, not enough to act upon – an important distinction.)

Poseurs want the status and self-validation that comes from luxury purchases. But they don’t have the money. When they do buy an (often entry-level priced) brand, they seek out big logos that can communicate to their peers that they’ve “made it.” Brands tend to refer to them as aspirational.

Parvenus have the interest and the money but are “new” to the big game. They might be self-made or perhaps now first getting a real taste of control over the family fortune. They may act like the stereotypical (poorly-behaved) nouveau riche. Think big, bold over-the-top expressions of wealth.

Patricians are the classic luxury consumer (at least, who many luxury brands think of as their consumer). A patrician is secure in their elite status. They do signal to one another but quietly and in a much more understated way than poseurs or parvenus.

If you serve a luxury clientele, are you clear on which group you’re serving?

And how they will be affected by the pandemic?

Because the drivers, preferences and effects of the crisis is different from group to group. They all need a different approach. And if you haven’t adapted your sales and marketing processes to serve these distinctions, you run the risk of losing them to a brand that has made the effort.

 

*Young Jee Han, Joseph C. Nunes, and Xavier Drèze, “Signaling Status with Luxury Goods: The Role of Brand Prominence,” Journal of Marketing 74 (July 2010): 15–30. 

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