Is Purpose the new product of luxury ?

Over the decades, luxury brands have worked hard to turn high quality goods and designs into aspirational products. They stood apart because of their ‘savoir-faire’. However, in recent times, luxury consumers have redefined what they consider to be aspirational.

With access to wide range of information, consumers have become more aware and conscious about their purchases. We see this redefinition of luxury creeping in as a new macrotrend. Sustainability and social responsibility are turning into new stamps of high society. Ethical production practices, transparency in value chain, inclusivity in designing and marketing are some of the top ranked purposes.

A burning question comes up, what are the luxury brands doing about this trend? Historically, luxury brands have not been very consumer centric and avoided picking up on the latest market trends. They have maintained their aspirational image by defining new trends for consumers to follow. Not the other way round. But the trend of ‘purpose’ seems to be fundamentally modifying the luxury paradigm. Added to this is a global pandemic acting as a catalyst.

Luxury brands are being challenged to move beyond CSR activities and demonstrate their strong values in delivering purposeful products. They are also expected to build a close-knit community to garner loyalty of the conscious consumers and build deeper connections.

Gucci Off the Grid is one of the earliest initiatives of a large luxury brand aimed at becoming more purposeful. This is an experiment in circular fashion launched in June 2020. A range of streetwear and accessories produced by organic, recycled, bio-based and sustainably sourced raw materials. The durable nature of luxury product promotes its usage for extended lifetime. In October 2020, Gucci partnered with TheRealReal to launch an online store featuring pre-loved Gucci items.

It would be interesting to see who will be next to follow in the footsteps of Gucci and who will stick to the old paradigm of luxury. Will luxury brands shift away from ‘savoir-faire’ being their key differentiator? Will ‘purpose’ be their new product?

By Shibika Mitra

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