Consumer Behavior Mon 1-5pm
Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster
Deluxe: How luxury lost its luster, by Dana Thomas, brings a hard hitting, raw look at the world of luxury and the mass demand of luxury that has occurred. The book was published by the Penguin Group in 2007. Luxury is defined by Thomas as truly special, and was only available to the aristocratic world of wealth and old money in western culture. Luxury signified an experience and lifestyle that denotes royalty, fame, and fortune. However, with large companies owning the former family-owned luxury producing businesses, profits are the main goal not the production of luxury. Thomas reveals the unfortunate demise and rise of traditional luxury companies. Wherever she looked, it seemed as though everyone owned some kind of luxury product. She asked herself, when did brands such as Chanel, Gucci, and Prada become so widely used and available to anyone anywhere? Thus, the beginning of her research into the world of luxury and her book, Deluxe: How luxury lost its luster. Dana Thomas, New York Times bestselling author, is the European Arts & Entertainment correspondent for Newsweek in Paris. “She has written about style for the New York Times Magazine since 1994, and has contributed to various publications, including The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times in London,” (Thomas, “About the Author”). Thomas was also a professor of journalism at the American University of Paris from 1996 through 1999. She has received awards for her outstanding achievements including the Ellis Haller Award. She is a family oriented individual who resides in Paris with her husband, Herve, and daughter, Lucie Lee. (Thomas, “About the Author”) “Today, the luxury marketplace would be virtually unrecognizable to the old-world elite.” Thomas reveals the true goals of the luxury conglomerates that have taken over and how luxury executives started to target the middle market in the 80’s. “…Growth became not merely a priority but the sole objective…the tycoons turned their sights onto a new target, the middle market,” (Thomas, Pg. 67). The expansion in the United States started in Las Vegas. Thomas explains the reason for starting there, was because Las Vegas “…was growing exponentially, and, most important, was perhaps the lone place in America – and maybe the world – where the have-nots lived, if only for a few days, like the haves…The sole objective for both Las Vegas and today’s luxury brands is to take your money. It was only a matter of time until the two converged.” In Las Vegas no one is looking over your shoulder and judging your spending habits, or anything for that matter. Las Vegas is a “judgment free experience.” Elaine Wynn describes Las Vegas as “a wonderful opportunity for retail.” Thomas goes on to explain the “average” consumers demand for luxury. After Ronald Reagan’s tax breaks, rising stock market, the Internet boom of the 90’s, new money and spending power changed the American dream for the middle market consumer. “Average Americans were no longer content being average,” (Thomas, Pg. 121). Thomas refers to a 1986 Roper Center poll, where in average Americans claimed to need $50,000 to fulfill their dreams. By 1994, the figure was $102,000 and it continues to grow. “This made the luxury tycoons giddy with glee!” (Thomas, Pg. 123). Luxury executives can now roll out their stores across the United States and Europe, “fill them with affordable, logo-covered products targeted to this new, shop happy middle market, and watch their sales – and profits – mount.” In 2006, Tom Ford confided in Thomas facts surrounding Gucci’s expansion into the middle market in the 90’s, “Have we not done it, someone else would have.” In a matter of time, Las Vegas was not only a gamblers dream but also a shopper’s fantasy! Sin city became the second city in which most luxury brands opened a store, after...
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