Luxury vehicles evoke visions of buttery soft leather seats, a killer sound system and the elevated status of arriving somewhere in style.
Not long ago, electric lighting and indoor plumbing were considered a luxury. For that matter, so were mobile phones. But notions of luxury often change with technological advancements and cultural shifts.
Imagine a future in which your car monitors your heartbeat and calls for help if there is cause for concern. Or, you can take a business call while your passenger keeps up the carpool karaoke because you can raise and lower a sound barrier at will.
Such ideas are on the radar for Lexus. The luxury division of Toyota surveyed 3,000 U.S. consumers from Gen Z to baby boomers to discover their thoughts about the future of luxury.
The survey results and other forward-looking ideas will be explored by Lisa Materazzo, vice president of Lexus marketing, during her presentation April 8 at MediaPost’s Marketing: Automotive conference at the New York International Auto Show.
As a leading luxury brand, Lexus has always sought to anticipate luxury consumers’ expectations.
“From the very beginning, our greatest curiosity hasn’t been machines, it’s been people,” Materazzo says. “What moves them? What makes them tick? It’s the inspiration for everything we do. From the products we craft to the dealership experience, it’s what makes us uniquely Lexus.”
More than half of those surveyed (56%) feel that luxury is better described as a lifestyle of experiences than a collection of belongings. This trend is projected to continue, as the majority (73%) believe that identifying luxury with experiences over belongings will be just as, if not more, important in the next decade.
Indeed, looking to the future, successful luxury brands will differentiate themselves with quality experiences and service, not just quality products.
A majority (86%) of those surveyed expect luxury brands to provide exceptional experiences — from being highly responsive to customers’ needs, providing expert support, and focusing on the details; to the personal touch, such as knowing the customer’s name and preferences and even attention to the sensory, such as scent, lighting and mood.
Most Americans expect luxury brands to have environmentally friendly manufacturing processes (81%). More than seven in 10 also believe luxury brands should act like leaders on issues surrounding sustainability (71%).
Respondent are open to innovative materials to help satisfy their demand for more sustainable manufacturing practices. In fact, nearly half (48%) look to see more original materials like faux leather and lab-grown diamonds in the future.
Scrutiny of how luxury brands embody “green” behavior is expected to intensify. Looking into the future, this expectation as a luxury requirement increases by 8 percentage points, with nearly a third (30%) saying it will be essential.
Some product categories are also held to a higher standard than others. Americans are more likely to say being environmentally friendly is more of a “must-have” for luxury brands in categories like beauty/cosmetics, food and beverage, and automotive.
Americans want personalization to be built into the purchase process. Thinking ahead to the future, almost all (93%) expect to see just as much, if not more, features from luxury brands allowing them to make special requests. In fact, more than half (51%) are hoping to see additional tools and innovation supporting ways to customize their online luxury orders.
Thirty years from now, Americans predict mind-reading technology, space travel and flying cars will be luxury symbols. Indeed, advanced technology leads the list in terms of what luxury is expected to look like in the year 2050. Top on the list are devices for mind reading, space vacations, flying cars, dream recording technology and brain-implant devices to aid memory.