Give back to the community while you indulge in luxury?
Traditionally, you might have associated words like vanity, indulgence and ostentatious with luxury brands. But the past couple of years have seen luxury brands moving towards creating a culture of social awareness by providing its customers with opportunities to give back to the community. Be it in the form of charitable donations or sustainable products, luxury brands are forming partnerships with nonprofits and charities in an attempt to move towards a world of ‘conscious consumption’.
Rise of the ‘good-hearted’ millennials
A lot has changed in the way brands market themselves. The influential millennial generation looks to social and other digital media to form opinions about brands. There is a greater demand for experiential luxury like travel, food and spa treatments amongst this generation, that also happens to be the most influential of all time.
With millennials making up around 25% of the U.S. population and 21% of consumer discretionary purchases (estimated to be over a trillion dollars) – it makes a huge difference how luxury brands position themselves. One study reveals that almost 50% millennials would be more willing to buy from a company if their purchase supports a cause, and we aren’t surprised! The millennial generation is considered the ‘giving’ generation. We see it all around us – a shift towards green, organic, eco-friendly, sustainable, charitable, inclusive… it is increasingly becoming ‘cool’ to do good, to be aware, and to give back. The 2015 Millennial Impact Report stated that 84% of millennial employees made a charitable donation in 2014 – and not all were solicited through their companies. In fact, 78% that did not donate through their employer made a donation on their own. The study that researches millennials and their involvement with causes, reveals that peer influence, competition and incentives motivate millennials to volunteer and donate. But they are most inspired when their passion for a cause is evoked.
With this changing luxury landscape, how are luxury brands still growing? In this, as with everything else in marketing, luxury brands are pivoting to being where the consumer is.
Changing landscape of the luxury industry
The luxury landscape is evolving. While it is predicted that the industry will continue to grow in the coming years, the drivers of growth are changing (which according to The Boston Consulting Group at Luxury First Look: Strategy 2016 are, growth of new and emerging markets, strides in e-commerce and importantly, rise of the millennial generation) and will determine the way the industry grows. While new markets demand new products and services that are products of ‘think global, act local’, millennials in countries like the US are altering the way luxury is marketed, and even defined.
So in this brave new world, what is luxury?
Luxury could be just in the physical – like a Rolex. Or a Louis Vuitton bag. Luxury could be in the appeal – being part of an exclusive club, for instance. Luxury can be defined by exclusivity or a price point. But in recent years we are seeing a shift in the way luxury is defined. New brands are disrupting the luxury market with a redefined purpose and a completely changed perception of luxury. According to Cuyana, a San Francisco based fashion startup, luxury is in having ‘fewer, better things’. TOMS shoes, which is based on a one-for-one model where the company donates one pair of shoes for a child in need when you purchase a pair, defines luxury as being empowered to make a responsible decision. Warby Parker, which brings high-end eye-wear to the masses is successful not just because of their innovative direct to consumer distribution model and boutique-style designs. They also donate a portion of their sales to nonprofits that train people from developing nations in affordable eye-care. Here at Suiteness, we have a two-fold definition for luxury: 1. luxury is spending time together with family and friends by creating memories through meaningful experiences and 2. luxury is having the option to make a conscientious choice, to derive more meaning out of your luxury escapades. But it’s not just the nascent players that are adding more value to luxury. A few years back, Gucci launched the ‘Chime for Change’ campaign to raise awareness and funds for girls’ and women’s empowerment, focusing on education, justice and health. In 2015, Prada’s co-founders Miuccia Prada and Fabrizio Bertelli opened the Fondazione Prada, an arts complex dedicated to the promotion and development of contemporary arts that is open to public.
The Suiteness way to give back with luxury
According to CEO and co-founder Robbie Bhathal, “Suiteness believes in socially conscious, positive luxury. You gain memories through unique experiences, and you also give back. Our customers get the luxury experience of a lifetime and they also know that they are doing good for the local community”. Suiteness was founded on a single, simple goal: give more people access to exclusive luxury suites that they never even knew existed. We wanted to be (and are) the first travel site to bring a collection of the most exclusive, luxury hotel suites online, so more people could get easy access to these fantastic suites without having to go through the hassle of repeated phone calls, negotiating for the best price and knowing the ‘right guy’ to book the suite of their dreams.
Suiteness is about making things easier for the customer – by providing a simple way to book luxury suites, by being transparent, and also, by providing a way for our customers to give back to the community as they travel. When you book a luxury suite through Suiteness, a donation will be made on your behalf to a local charity partner of your choosing. Suiteness has partnered with local charities in all cities that we are currently present in, and will continue to add more charities as we expand to newer cities. To date, we have partnered with HELP of Southern Nevada, Opportunity Village and Three Square in Las Vegas; Amigos for Kids, Camillus House & Health and Miami Rescue Mission in Miami; Girls Inc in New York City and A Place Called Home in Los Angeles.
Through the ages, many brands have succeeded through masterful story telling. In the new age of the socially conscious luxury consumer, brands are increasingly weaving core values into their stories through clear and transparent actions – and that’s just how it should be! The modern luxury consumer wants more than just a label that shouts ‘I paid a lot of money for this’. They want a brand that stands for something; a brand that speaks for what their customer stands for, through its products and services. Today, luxury is to be part of something new and unique and being philanthropic by virtue of the brand that you are loyal to. You could say that luxury today has an almost philosophical definition. But it is reshaping the industry by creating more brands that are defined both by their product and by their social purpose. It is being exclusive by being part of something bigger.