What defines a country, a group of people or any human association are often the common cultural references they share together. Literature, painting, sculpture, dance, religion or civic education are some of the many disciplines that generate symbols and habits. Luxury is also many times written into some heritage. While Baby boomers and generation X learned luxury via the possession of objects made by the brands, the younger generation, often called generation Y have a complete different approach. In deed, many luxury brands become more than simple brands. They turn into true cultural references. In some cases, it is just happening in this way, in others there is a true strategy behind. And here are some highlights.
While museums have a hard time to survive, Brands flagship stores or other brand activities have never been better. While the Great Wall of China has 10 million visitors every year, well, Disneyland in Florida has 16.6 million. By the way when we look into the top 10 most visited places in the world, 4 out of 10 are Disneyland parks with in total 55 million visitors every year. the power of Brand.
If we now look into product brands, and especially into luxury ones, we also have a cultural replacement that is much more curious. Some cities in the world are not visited anymore because of their natural heritage but because some brands are telling you to. 2 interesting examples to highlight: Louis Vuitton and Burberry.
Paris, city of lights. Many visitors come to visit Paris every year and for a big majority they have to visit 2 things: The Louis Vuitton flagship store at Les Champs Elysées and a Perfumery store. It is almost now a tradition. Somehow you are part of some french history.
Louis Vuitton became not only one of the several french ambassadors in the world but in many ways it translates a certain signification of luxury. By opening several flagship stores all over the world, these shops are part of the most visited tourist attractions in each city. The Champs Elysées are one very specific as in the upper floors you can find a “cultural space” also called museum. Because of this, the Louis Vuitton store is one of the rarest to being able to open on sundays. And the Brand itself understood that they turned into a city reference in many places in the world. In order to capitalize on this, they launched the Louis Vuitton city guides.
By having a legitimacy in terms of tourists visits and lifestyle, you can see that Louis Vuitton wants to be THE international reference for tourism and shopping. So instead of purchasing a tourist guide from Lonely planet or the local tourism office, you take the Vuitton one.
Another interesting example is Burberry. For many years Burberry was linked to an idea of British elegance. The trench coat, the style and its origins back in 1856 in England make this Brand as unique as attractive.
Burberry is one of the few luxury brands which also understood well the Digital revolution, being very innovative on internet and especially in social networks. So when they decided to create the Burberry Instagram channel, 2 keywords were on the table: Fashion and London. These two words are how Burberry define the brand. So instead of posting product pictures and hoping that people will buy them, the british brand took a very different approach.
First of all, they hired a photographer to take snapshots of London. In deed, Burberry wants to be perceived as the ultimate reference to London. So all year long, Burberry has been posting great shots from London, so that you would look at the english capital through the Brand prism.
What is the interest of Burberry to do this amazing artistic work? Well, not only they make the brand connected to London, one of the most visited capitals in the world, but they create an emotional bound between the brand and its customers/fans. According to Forrester studies, Brands that distinguish themselves on emotional attributes can capture 60% greater loyalty. The result for Burberry: 650’000 followers on Instagram in less than 2 years.
Other Brands like Chanel and Cartier have a more indirect way to connect to culture and artists. Cartier since 1984, created the Cartier Foundation for contemporary Art. Installed in Paris in the city center, the Foundation is not only a place to exhibit art but also a place to meet artists and a powerful “mecene” or sponsor.
Traditionally speaking many cities were visited up to now because of their history, old of thousand years or a couple of hundreds. More and more, some cities are climbing the scale of tourists interests because they are a destination for shopping, or at least an exotic “urban” destination. Cities like:
For sure all these cities are not visited for their history, as for most of them there were no history or at least there is no more history. So we get into a new era of shopping-urban-tourists. In all these quoted cities, the only interesting cultural project might be the construction of the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi.
For once, we are not talking about the opening of a new flagship store or super Shopping mall but about real culture. Supposed to open in 2014, the Abu Dhabi Louvre museum was designed by Jean Nouvel and is supposed to the the first Universal museum in the region. Some people say that it might overcome the number of visitors of the original Louvre in Paris in less than 5 years.
Knowing that this year the Guggenheim of Abu Dhabi will open, we can see that the Emirats wish to make Abu Dhabi the 1st destination in the Middle-East for culture and shopping.
With this evolution of references, the modern world becomes more complex to decode. Traditions are blended with different ways to appreciate things and the concept of luxury gets into a different level of consideration. Luxury brands are investing the field of emotional references as they know that customer loyalty is one of the challenges for the future.
Info sourced at the different brands websites, wikipedia and New York times. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available.