In their seminal work on luxury marketing (The Luxury Strategy: Break the Rules of Marketing to Build Luxury Brands), Kapferer and Bastien present an original and innovative framework to set marketing strategies for luxury goods that they call ‘the anti-laws of marketing’.
Now, this blog post is not the right place to go through all the book’s 24 laws. However, we can briefly discuss some of them. The ones I find more interesting and relevant to non-luxury products.
In fact, one of the assumptions of the book is that luxury marketing strategies are applicable to non-luxury brands either – Apple being one of the most telling examples.
The first law is ‘Forget about positioning; luxury is not comparative‘.
This is true. What customers look for in luxury products is something unique, diverse and non-replicable. They want to identify themselves, and be identified by the others, with such qualities as uniqueness and remarkableness.
As luxury goods are unique, diverse and non-replicable, they are not comparable with other luxury goods – left alone non-luxury goods. For this reason, positioning constitutes no viable strategy for luxury products. Positioning reflects, in fact, the play of differences between products of the same category and aims to capitalise on such differences. When it comes to luxury, Bastien explains, ‘being unique is what counts, not any comparison with a competitor‘.
The second law that caught my attention is ‘Don’t pander to your customers’ wishes‘.
Luxury does not answer needs, but superfluous desires. It does not solve problems, but creates thrill and excitement. This does not mean being deaf, but being capable to understand and create desires.
The other reason why not pandering to customers’ wishes is mandatory in luxury marketing, entails the two concepts of uniqueness and incomparability. Listening to customers leads to a regression to the mean, whereas, as we have seen, luxury must be different.
The other law I found interesting is ‘Make it difficult for clients to buy‘.
As everyone knows, scarcity increases value. In luxury market, making not too easy for someone to find what he/she wants creates desire. The harder a product is to be found, the more attractive it becomes.
The idea at the basis of this law is to create something that everyone desires, but that not everyone can have – or cannot easily have. This engenders a sense of exclusivity, which is at the core of luxury products and brands and implies the book’s 11th law:
‘The presumed price should always seem higher than the actual price‘.