Timothy Jackson Artisan, brand identity...
Luxury and it's Interpretation of "Ingredients"
Image credit: Chilternfirehouse.com
Brand identity and communication are the domains of a business or organisation, which aims to differentiate itself to its customers. Evolutions in social media platforms, faster and more accessible mobile devices and infrastructure have combined to create a situation where consumers (who can be perceived as ingredients) are now part of the brand development process. Brand identity may also be regarded as an external wrapping for a business achieved through a complex communications process involving brand messaging, aesthetics, design and other sensory elements. Fashion is an industry where the ‘external’ brand identity is often more important than the ‘internal’ components of the product in brand differentiation. This is especially the case in the mass-market where the quality of raw materials (ingredients) and production or manufacture is relatively homogenous across competing fashion brands.
However, the luxury industry has always been able to argue a stronger association between ‘internal’ components and their brand identity. Fine, rare, bespoke raw materials have been as important in the superior quality messaging as the artisan manufacture of products. In this case, we can argue that the raw materials represent the ‘ingredients’ of the finished or crafted product, whether it be a bag, item of apparel, jewellery or cosmetics. In fact, this concept of parallel internal and external components of a brand is illustrated nicely by luxury watch brand Richard Mille which pays attention to both internal and external attributes stating it’s the “Holistic relationships that unite the interior and exterior of the watch.”
Image via Instagram: @richardmilleeurope
It is believed that the luxury industry is going to depend more on revenue generated from monetising experiences in the future. Travel, hospitality and food are all sectors showing growth in the global luxury market. Nuno Mendes head chef at Chiltern Firehouse connects luxury and food; “Food has become the new luxury. Over the last couple of decades, the term luxury has changed dramatically in many different areas of the market. Luxury has really changed and evolved around the role of restaurants and food.”
In the last few years, food has become scrutinised by consumers, particularly in respect of dining out in restaurants. At the New York Times Luxury Travel conference 2016, Janice Wong, acclaimed chef and restaurateur stressed; “People really want to know what goes into their food.” For example, she explained that chefs and restaurant owners need to identify whether the flour used is high gluten or gluten-free; “The education part is very important and it’s our duty as chefs to explain that. We use emoticons that say for example there’s no flour in this and the customers appreciate it.” Similarly, at the same conference MPS Puri, CEO Nira Hotels and Resorts, commented on how informed customers are about food and diet; “Chefs now also need an education in nutrition and most good chefs do and that helps.”
Nuno Mendes charts the changes in interest; “Over the last couple of decades, the term luxury has changed dramatically in many different areas of the market. You can see it in fashion, lifestyle, design and several other sectors. Luxury has really changed and evolved around the role of restaurants and food. Luxury restaurants were associated with ostentatious over the top experiences in grand rooms. The stuffiness attracted wealthy, not so informed tourists, playboy millionaires and other older generations. It was a sad state of reality. They would come in wearing lavish gowns precious stones and live those experiences in a hedonistic way without care or regard for the rest of the world. It was a refuge from changing times that allowed the dismissal towards equality in modern day society. During these decades dishes were served featuring a series of ingredients coming from distant areas of the world in small quantities demanding very high prices. The guests had very little regard for the ethical or sustainability of foods that were served. In most cases no interest where it was from or the story behind it. It was all about status. Nowadays things have changed a lot. We are faced with a very different reality. Luxury today is experiential and in no other areas is it more evident than in restaurants and food. Customers and consumers have changed their demographic and in the way they are now looking at luxury as an experience in which there is a true connection with the artisan. An experience in which they get to know the person, product and story behind it, which they can champion, share and discuss with their friends back home.”
As such luxury brand managers should think carefully about the ingredients of their businesses whether that’s interpreted as a customer’s increasing desire to be more informed about what goes into the products they buy or their contributions and involvement in brand communications (especially in respect of Millennials).
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