On Tuesday, Truth Central was pleased to attend Luxury Daily’s Luxury FirstLook Strategy 2015 conference, at which our very own Nadia Tuma spoke on a panel.
The overarching theme of the conference was whether the luxury industry would go up, down or stay flat in 2015. After all, low oil prices have depressed consumption in the Middle East, the government crackdown on a culture of prolific gift-giving has cut luxury spending in China, and an unstable economic environment has stagnated luxury spending in Europe. The spot of sunshine in this otherwise bleak picture is the speedily recovering United States. Growth in this market may be high enough that, as Milton Pedraza of the Luxury Institute said, brands can safely go from being optimistically cautious in 2014 to cautiously optimistic in 2015.
Nadia, who sat on a panel about the outlook for luxury brands this year mentioned that in this environment of turbulence, brands that might have expanded into new markets too quickly, and diluted their positioning to appeal to too many new customers, have an opportunity to go back to their roots. “Luxury brands represent absolute certainty in a world of uncertainty. It’s not about the flavor of the month, but rather staying true to your vision and executing it in the way that is uniquely yours.” Truth Central’s Truth About Affluence research strongly corroborates this view, with 89% of affluent individuals globally agreeing that brands should stand up for what they believe in, rather than try to please everybody.
While this might sound like received wisdom in the luxury industry, some brands have fallen foul of this rule in recent years. The fashion press has remarked on Prada’s creative malaise, as it compromised its eccentric soul a little too far in favor of churning out more accessible accessories. At the conference, Alberto Milani, CEO of Buccellati USA, spoke about how the venerable jewelry brand has weathered the economic storm of the last few years by staying laser focused on satisfying the wants of their small but dedicated clientele; “Buccellati may not be everyone’s style, I know, but that’s ok, because that’s luxury. I know a customer when I see her; nobody else matters.” said Mr. Milani, summing up this philosophy.
The conference continually reinforced the notion that in addition to keeping a finger on the pulse of what’s new in culture and technology, thought leadership in luxury is about recognizing and staying committed to age old truths – the customer comes first, a good product sells itself, an authentic voice that speaks to a few is better than a garbled voice that speaks to many. We at Truth Central like to call this distinguishing between trend and truth; the latter is the core of our business at McCann, and a guiding light for brands in times of uncertainty.