04 Oct The New Luxury Consumer’s Quest for Self-Actualisation
There is a transformational shift taking place in the experiential economy. Today’s status-seeking consumers are not only moving from luxury goods to experiences, but from experiences to self-actualisation, with the ultimate status badge being mental wellbeing and spirituality. Luxury brands need to start asking themselves how they deliver a new currency; meaning.
As more people have started to access amazing experiences, travel to hard-to-reach locations, stay with locals and visit exclusive pop-up dining events – experiences in themselves start to become common currency, and therefore not as desirable to an emerging class of high-end luxury consumers.
For them, the most desirable experiences are the ones that provide them with unique skills or new knowledge, enable them to express their creativity, or do good for other people or the planet. Today’s luxury consumers, seeking to stand out from growing mainstream affluence, have started to move onto a quest for self-improvement, personal growth and self-actualisation.
It all makes perfect sense; status and luxury have always been, and always will be, about what’s difficult to achieve and so by their very definition, only a minority can acquire them. In the 18th century it was oranges, in the 60s it was exotic holidays, not too long ago it was once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and lately, it has become personal growth and self-actualisation. Even when everything else has become easier to acquire or experience, improving one’s physique, knowledge, skills, style and creativity still requires quite a bit of time, money and desire.
For many, the very height of self-fulfilment is mindfulness, mental wellbeing, and spirituality. This is something that remains elusive – even to those with infinite resources – in today’s fast-paced, always-connected and high-achieving society.
We have started to see status-seeking consumers around the world work towards this higher level of self-actualisation, with some pioneering luxury brands tapping into the trend.
Some clear examples of this emerging trend include:
• Amrit Resort and Residences is developing a luxury resort in Florida, partnering with The Himalayan Institute which is highly regarded for its self-transformation programs, spiritual retreats, and humanitarian projects. Amrit will blend ‘luxury with spirituality’, offering yoga, meditation and Vedic philosophy to facilitate the spiritual awakening of guests
• Celestine Eleven is a retail space in Shoreditch where luxury clothing collides with carefully-selected lifestyle products with health and spirituality at their core, together with yoga, raw food and an apothecary
• London start-up Vinaya’s collection ‘ALTRUIS‘ consists of wearable technology that helps ‘elevate productivity, tranquillity and wellbeing’, whilst looking like designer jewellery. The pieces filter smartphone notifications and discreetly notify the user of the important ones
There will be more of this trend to come. As more people become affluent and move up the status ladder, people will want to distinguish themselves and climb ever higher. They will choose experiences that are not just memorable, but meaningful. Experiences that provide them with and enable them to express their knowledge and creativity. And the ultimate meaningful experiences, the most difficult to achieve, are the ones that provide emotional wellbeing, mindfulness and spirituality.
As this movement continues to develop, we will see more brands offering increasingly meaningful products, services and experiences. And the brands with the most credibility in this world will be those founded on purpose. This is a space that is still in its infancy, and so the rules have yet to be written. But brands that do not start to harness this now will be watching from the sidelines for years to come.