Future Feature - The Future of Luxury
The New Luxury
By Drea Sobieski
In an age seemingly ruled by materialism, a new trend in millennial spending habits suggests that the world’s largest generation is beginning to think quite differently about what they’re spending their money on and what it means to “own” something. Luxury today is no longer defined by the cars they drive, the size of their apartments or number of designer pieces in their closets. They deem these objects worthless if they fail to establish a deeper connection or embed some sort of impressionable benchmark in their lives. Millennials demand value, a narrative, and a reason to share it all in order to justify spending, thus placing an emphasis on experiential activities over material objects. Free time is the new discretionary income, and experience is its currency.
"Free time is the new discretionary income, and experience is its currency."
It’s obvious to identify this trend looking backwards. With the rise of music festivals, yacht week, customizable travel itineraries, food and wine events and group travel, it seems everyone is always doing something. According to a recent Harris poll, more than three in four millennials (78%) would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying something desirable. And thanks to social media, this notion is amplified.
Newsfeeds are populated with posts from our friends fine dining in restaurants, relaxing in chic boutique hotel rooms, dancing at concerts, sipping wine on safaris and more. Never have people cared less about what you have, and more about where you’re going or what you’re doing.
"millennials are reshaping their own personal definitions of 'value.'"
And in that sense, millennials are reshaping their own personal definitions of ‘value’. Before spending their hard earned dollars, the item of desire must answer the following prerequisites - Does it make us happy? Is it worth sharing with our friends and family? Does it make us cool when we talk about it? Will we remember it forever?
The same Harris Poll found that more than four in five millennials (77%) say some of their best memories are from an event or live experience they attended or participated in. It’s worth suggesting that maybe memories are today’s luxury.
So what does all of this mean for the future? How do brands market their products to consumers who don't want to consume? They must rethink their strategy. Smart brands are learning how to integrate themselves into the millennial market by creating unique brand experiences.
The recipe is actually quite simple. Give someone a good time and they’re apt to talk about it, share it, and remember it (and your brand) favorably forever. So it’s interesting that most companies are still fixated on traditional forms of advertising and “gifting” to influencers, instead of utilizing their budgets to craft unique experiences that draw social media attention, word of mouth, press extension, brand loyalty and longevity all at once. The brands that think differently will outlast those that don’t.
"With millennials being the largest spending generation in history, there is an opportunity to not only reshape the future economy but the minds of those who are spending in it."
With millennials being the largest spending generation in history, there is an opportunity to not only reshape the future economy but the minds of those who are spending in it. With experience grows a more cultivated spirit. Brands now have the power to craft experiences that connect people from around the world, exposing an entire generation to new customs, cultures and ideals while establishing priceless memories. And unlike the former ideal of luxury consumerism, priceless memories will always find their way back into your wallet.
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions” - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.