I.4.1. The Definition of Luxury Brands
The modern understanding of a brand is consumer and identity oriented. Accordingly, brands are regarded as images in the minds of consumers and other target groups (Esch 2010, p. 22), which are designed by companies to identify their products (Kotler et al. 2009, p. 425). Luxury brands are highly associated with their core products (Kapferer 2008, p. 193). This is reflected by the larger part of the existing definitions of luxury brands, which refer to specific associations about product characteristics (e.g. Meffert and Lasslop 2003, p. 6; Büttner et al. 2006, p. 12; Valtin 2004, p. 30).. The constitutive characteristics of luxury products therefore correspond largely with those of luxury brands, which leads to the following definition:
Luxury brands are regarded as images in the minds of consumers that comprise associations about a high level of price, quality, aesthetics, rarity, extraordinariness and a high degree of non-functional associations.
Any potential luxury brand should be evaluated by the constitutive characteristics of luxury, which are described in detail in one of the following chapters. These explanations are summarized by the following principles:
- Price: The brand offers products which belong to the most expensive products of their category.
- Quality: The brand offers everlasting top-of-the-line products, which won't be disposed of even after long utilization or defect, but rather repaired and which often even gain in value over time.
- Aesthetics: The brand behaves like a chic and vain dandy, who would never leave the house in less than perfect style. Whenever and wherever the brand is seen, it embodies a world of beauty and elegance.
- Rarity: In contrast to mass-market brands, the brand needs to limit its production and tries not to disclose its (high) sales numbers. The brand plays hard to get and is not available at all times or places.
- Extraordinariness: The brand has a mind and style of its own and its products offer a "kick" and surprise with the "expected unexpected."
- Symbolism: The brand stands for "the best from the best for the best"; its charisma fills the room, and regardless of whether it is of a conspicuous or understated nature, deep inside, it is swollen with pride.