Commentary

Luxury Brands Are In The Eyes Of The Beholders

Recently, I had the pleasure of exploring the meaning of the words "luxury" and "luxurious" from the consumer’s points of view. That review generated some interesting feedback from a number of readers who then asked if we had ever collected any insights regarding which brands luxury consumers would select as the #1 luxury brand and would those brands differ according to the consumer’s gender. Well, we have asked and this review explores this interesting question among what many marketers consider the prime targets for luxury-oriented products and services--those adults, males and females, who live in the top 3% of U.S. households based on their total incomes--which is $250,000 or more in household incomes.

When all of these valuable consumers were asked to name what they consider to be their #1 luxury brand, 17 were selected by both the men and women and then put into the following word cloud. Mercedes (one of seven automotive brands) was noted as the leader. Among the six fashion brands, Gucci was cited most frequently, while among the luxury jewelry/watch brands, Tiffany was at the top of the list. Finally, there was only one consumer electronics brand that made it into the list of 17 notable luxury brands for this entire super-affluent market segment, and that was Apple. 

When we then focused on those luxury brands super-affluent males named, the list narrows. Now there are only14 that are notable in the following word cloud. All the automotive brands remain in the male’s luxury brand list. The super-affluent males, though, did not include three that were in the total list of 17 brands reviewed earlier. Dropped from the men’s list were Chanel, Coach or Hermes.

When we then reviewed what super-affluent females wrote down as their choices for #1, the list gets even smaller. Now there are only 11 included by the women. Missing from that list, compared to the total list of 17 reviewed earlier are three auto brands: Cadillac, Lexus and Ferrari as well as Apple, Rolex, and Cartier.

Then when we narrowed the field to only those luxury brands that both super-affluent males and females focus on, the list gets even smaller, with only eight that are notable. These now include the following four auto brands, two fashion brands, and two jewelry brands.

As we noted in our earlier review about the meaning of the words “luxury” and “luxurious,we recommend that marketers of luxury products and services take into account that men and women perceive luxury brands differently. Or to paraphrase, luxury is in the eyes of the beholders.

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