Chasing Status: How to Keep Up With the Changing Culture of Premium

Champagne on ice, shiny new sports cars (roof down – obviously) and expensive handbags… nope we’re not talking about the Rich Kids of Instagram. What we’re talking about are just some of the clichés that, until recently, defined ‘premium’ products and experiences. But attitudes are changing – and so it’s time for brands to change with them.

We believe there are two factors driving this change, and we’ve got four recommendations for staying front of mind in this new age of premium.

Okay, so we start with digital disruption. No, seriously.

You may not think the astronomical growth of brands like Uber, Airbnb and Amazon has anything to do with premium living at first glance.

But go ahead and give them a second glance. Because getting exactly what you want – when you want it – at the tap of an app challenges an idea at the heart of traditional premium brands. By making consumer interactions instant, seamless and personalised, tech brands have turned ‘premium’ from exclusive to empowered.

Digital has democratized luxury living.

So now we’re suddenly seeing premium and luxe brands collaborating and experimenting with tech to create new products and services – which don’t always come with the hefty price tag.

Attitudes, values, evolution and buzzwords

The way we think, as consumers, has changed. Our expectations of brands are higher than ever, and we’re increasingly less satisfied with simply material things. ‘Having’ has taken a backseat to ‘being’.

So, in the Top Trumps of consumerism, experiences now beat products, and brands with a point of view win out against those peddling the shiniest goods (no matter what the roof does).

And no generation has been as influential in creating that shift as Millennials. (Buzzword alert.) Accounting for almost 30% of the world’s population and a hefty $2.5 trillion in spending power, this social group gravitates towards brands that reflect their personal values. Values that are expressed through art, culture, cause and social good.

In a nutshell, those buzzword Millennials buy premium products for themselves, not to impress others. And that distinction changes how we all think, act and shop.

Challenge accepted

In a world where everything’s available at the press of a button, how can premium brands find a way to maintain appeal?

They need to stride into this ever-changing landscape unafraid to experiment and challenge their own status quo. Let us join you.

Key takeouts

Shake up the exterior…

Where once premium brands were idolized and policed, their depiction carved in stone, today the most successful labels are unafraid to experiment with their brand, challenge the status quo of their aesthetic and collaborate with unlikely partners. Think about Louis Vuitton x Supreme as a premium mash-up consumer can’t get enough of.

…but your values are your foundation 

But… (There’s always a but.) Here’s the catch; experiment and tear up the brand toolkit, yes, but never lose sight of your unique brand essence. Having meaning. The experiences you offer need to chime with consumers as relevant, genuine and true to the spirit you started out with. Who were you before you hit the big time? Make sure that under the bold new aesthetic you’re still that person.

Make it shareable

Social currency always stands. Give consumers things they want to talk about and share with others. But don’t forget, this isn’t showing off. People want to share things that say something about who they are as people.

Scarce > exclusive

Owning an exclusive means enjoying something others can’t. But when every brand is making “exclusives” … what becomes genuinely scarce for Millennial consumers? Think time, honesty and individuality.

And then go create unique products and experiences that give today’s consumers more of what they feel is lacking in their lives.

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