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July 19, 2005

Luxury is dead, kind of 

Well, it seems my instinct was right about the sector being in decline. This week’s Newsweek focuses on the topic, and it relays an interesting fact: ‘Merrill Lynch predicts that U.S. luxury sales will slide from 25 to 17 percent of the global over the next 10 years. Europe will go from 26 to 20 percent over the same period.’ It means that luxury will have to compete with mainstream for its share, even though certain sectors within luxury are rising. The smaller pie means that there will be more exclusivity, but it also points to a shifting consumer pattern: one that is more aware of the rest of the world.
   Luxury will never die: once you have a rich niche, it’ll weather storms more readily; but for people like me, who work in the media as well as consulting, it’ll need to make adjustments.
   At Medinge 2003, Stanley Moss discussed the difference between European luxury and American ones—and highlighted the latter’s willingness toward dilution (e.g. Cadillac). The twenty-first century will be about luxury brands that can straddle the new consumer demands and making a buck, and the answer remains in the realm of social responsibility—or some cause that the consumer believes in, in order to reach self-actualization. A luxury could work globally for that very reason—let’s see if anyone’s conscientious enough to give it a shot. I am.
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