Editor's note: This article originally appeared in "Engage:Men" on July 31, 2014.
What defines luxury to a man 2015? Is it a Rolex and a private jet, or the ability to travel the world and gain life experiences?
More than ever we are seeing the modern man redefine what luxury means today. The “old school” concept of luxury doesn’t fit in with today’s man and his changing priorities. Our annual Acumen Report has explored the modern man and what makes him tick. What we’ve learned is that today’s man strives to be well-rounded rather than one-dimensional. He’s thoughtful about his purchases and he is more comfortable in traditionally female roles while also being considerate of his friends and family. These characteristics dictate what he purchases in both his everyday life like grooming products and beer and, increasingly, these shifts in priorities are changing what it means for men when the splurge or think about “luxury” items in their lives.
The modern man is evolving into someone who is more concerned about his family and friends, someone who seeks out adventure and uses his money to experience life over collecting possessions. As he changes, his idea of luxury is changing with him. Luxury is no longer confined to specific status symbols but instead has evolved into parts of our everyday lives.
So what does this mean for luxury brands? If they want to remain or become relevant, it means it’s time to approach their male customers in a different, more personal way. Many high-end brands are doing just that. Take a look at Audi. The brand has done an exceptional job speaking to the modern man and positioning its cars as more than a vehicle or status symbol but as adventure, a way to experience freedom. The A8 Superbowl adfrom a few years back is a great example of this change and features wealthy men “escaping” from their mansion prison to “Escape the Confines of Old Luxury,” in the new A8 of course. Range Rover also excels in this area by incorporating adventure, extreme challenges and excitement into the brand. Take a look at “Driven: A Race without Boundaries” which pits two world-class drivers against five challenges, four iconic racing destinations in the Range Rover Sport.
Modern men no longer want to be greeted at a hotel by a formal bell hop and concierge to cater to their every whim like a hired hand but instead, more are turning to hotels like The Ace, which speaks their language and represents a luxury lifestyle based on knowledge and personal interest. Men don’t want a list of Michelin star restaurants from the front desk; they want to know when and where chefs like Danny Bowien, Roy Choi and David Chiang will open their latest pop-up restaurant and how to score a seat at the opening. They are trading in the BMW for a slick bike and Uber.
Both established and emerging brands are trying to appeal to this new take on luxury as they shift their messaging from the excessive, “living large” old-fashioned luxury perception to appeal to what modern men see as personalized experience. IfOnly, a San Francisco based company offers extraordinary experiences with top experts across sports, music, entertainment and lifestyles that also help a charity cause. They sold 2,000 experiences in year one. In addition to embracing experiences, we’re seeing a shift towards spending on things that have purpose, that stand for something.
While this can certainly be a challenge for brands to cater to this changing modesty in masculinity, there are brands that are succeeding. Brands that are recognizing this change as opportunity and leveraging different brand values, storytelling, media and creative to connect stand to do very well. Levi’s Made & Crafted is also a great example of a brand that is bringing luxury to the masses in its own way, using comfort, quality and prestige through their brand identities and messages, not solely through their price tags. Just because he can afford it, it’s not enough for a brand to just represent a monetary status symbol. Today’s modern man is looking for, and willing to pay for, something more.