What does luxury mean in advertising?

How is luxury expressed in advertising now and how has this changed in the last decade?

As is true of advertising in general, luxury brand communications has undergone a sea change in the past decade. This is because advertising is so closely tied to contemporary culture, and because it mirrors the times. The value of a brand – luxury or otherwise – is rooted in its capacity to relate and connect to its era. Our role as advertisers is to imagine the messages and codes that will resonate with the aspirations and expectations of today’s consumer. To help brands continually renew themselves, while staying true to themselves… in short, to help them grow.

What are the values people want to express and what do they want to say when talking about luxury today? 

Defining luxury has gained in complexity over the past ten years. Its definition is in perpetual motion. Today, luxury is no longer necessarily synonymous with ‘rare’, ‘expensive’, ‘heritage’, ‘possession’… In sum, it is no longer only a status symbol. At first a social indicator, luxury has moved on to become a cultural indicator. Luxury brands today need to embody or become the icons of an era, a culture or a community. Businesses are well aware of their carbon footprint. In the future, brands and especially luxury brands must be aware of their cultural footprint.

What are the most important messages that luxury brands are trying to express today?

Like any other brand, luxury brands must seek to express their ‘genetic truth’. But truth comes with transparency and this is a major challenge for luxury brands, which tend to cultivate the art of secrecy. Yet being truthful is essential to standing out, asserting a unique identity and cutting through in a crowded marketplace.

The problem with luxury brands is that they have difficulty choosing (or at least trading) between the past and the future. What better way to be credible and authentic than revealing your roots, proclaiming your legacy and telling your story? This is especially true for luxury brands whose heritage is rooted in their history.

Rémi Babinet is chairman and founder of BETC,