After China displayed a fall of sales in the luxury sector, Europe is also starting to show some signs of slowdown in the field. The terrorist attacks have probably something to do with it. Hermes, for instance, has decided to conceal its future turnover after a record one in the last year. Yet with less foreign tourists in France, Hermes prefers anticipating 2017 and the firm is not disclosing their forthcoming low results of 2016. In fact, France is not the only country to experience such disappointed results in the sector—Italy with Prada and Germany with Hugo Boss are also registering disappointing results for 2016.
Yet, the future for luxury is very bright in the near-term! 2017 and 18 will be banner years for the luxury category. The recent U.S. presidential election of Donald Trump epitomizes the lavish money spending in luxury that Trump and his likes continue to do. For instance, for the Times columnist, it’s still time to party, with the glamour that a capitalist economy can provide. Consider how the Times announced its first-ever, “Around the World by Private Jet” tour, slated for early 2018, “An Exclusive Private Charter,” in the words of the “luxury travel” firm of Abercrombie & Kent, will transport a mere “50 guests” to exotic locales in luxury hand-made leather flat-bed seats to experience and enjoy exclusive luxury moments and events throughout the world encompassing south America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Such occurrences prompted Helene Cristini from International University of Monaco (INSEEC U.), Hannele Kauppinen-Räisänen (University of Vaasa, Finland), Mireille Barthod (INSEEC Alpes Savoie), and Arch G. Woodside (INSEEC Research Center) to critically ponder for a moment over the issue of luxury. The perception of luxury is in a continuing state of flux due to the changing of many aspects of the economic market. When considering the transformations of luxury through the ages, examining the perception of luxury through historical, philosophical, and anthropological lenses, they have come to a few realizations. The transformation of luxury reflects the image of the double-faced Janus display of the paired opposites that mark the phenomenon of luxury over the years. The image builds from the prevailing role of luxury in the Western European societies. Beside the view on being, sharing, and sensing versus having, owning, and using luxury, Cristini and colleagues use these dichotomies in the challenge to understand luxury and its meaning: public versus private, excellence versus mediocrity, artistic creativity versus profitable creativity long-term versus short-term, and finally, the opposition of feeding the spirit to pandering the self. Their study offers insights into the nature of luxury transformation and to what today luxury means with the democratization of luxury. As the study unfolds, duality is exhibited in luxury transformation. Consider three expressions of luxury in the excellent creations like the Trevi Fountain displayed for the sake of social well-being or how luxury meaning may be attached to Tiffany ear rings or short-term pandering through Italian gelato.
As the concept of luxury evolves, the study identifies luxury as configurations of simultaneous consumer evaluations of excellence, creativity, and exclusivity. However, even if there is an association between exclusivity and excellence, excellence can come without exclusivity. The study implies that luxury rests on asymmetry, which means that although all the three conditions are sufficient to define luxury, each separately is not necessary for being in the presence of luxury. All that indicates how difficult it is to go to the next level of luxury definition.
Hélène Cristini, Hannele Kauppinen-Raisanen, Mireille Barthod-Prothade, Arch Woodside (2017) « Toward a general theory of luxury: Advancing from workbench definitions and theoretical transformations » , Journal of Business Research, CNRS rank 2 | FNEGE rank 2