I.1.3. General Perspective for the Definition of Luxury

 

These types of relativity can be used as follows to determine a general perspective from which luxury should be defined, particularly with regard to the requirements within the field of luxury brand management:

 

  • Regional relativity: Due to the globalization of business, especially of the luxury industry, luxury should be defined from a global perspective, which leads to the omission of regional specialties from the definition of luxury for the sake of a broad international coverage.
  • Temporal relativity: The definition of luxury should refer to the present.
  • Economic relativity: Luxury should not be defined from the perspective of the very poor or the very rich, but of the entire society of developed regions. Despite the differences in the notion of luxury between the poor and the rich, Kemp (1998, p. 596) found that to a large extent, a gross-societal consensus exists concerning the classification of goods as either luxury or non-luxury.
  • Culutural relativity: The desirability of resources and the appearance of luxury are determined by the upper class, which also includes the relatively homogeneous segment of the global elite (Vickers and Renand 2003, p. 461). Consequently, hip hop-style gold teeth grills cannot be considered luxuries (as long as they are not adopted by the upper class). Basically, luxury appeals to everyone, if defined as something that is desirable and more than necessary and ordinary from his or her perspective. However, studies on the attitudes towards luxury usually refer to luxury as determined by the upper class. Consequently, the attitudes of respondents range from admiration to rejection (Reich 2005, p. 33), which often reflects their general opinion of the societal system. Besides that, the upper class also consists of different segments, which means that a variety of luxury tastes and lifestyles exists.
  • Situational relativity: Finally, the definition of luxury should generally not consider any temporary or individual circumstances, but should be restricted to normal conditions.

 

General Perspective for the Definition of Luxury

General Perspective for the Definition of Luxury

 

Accordingly, the basic definition of luxury may be complemented as follows:

Luxury is anything that is desirable and which exceeds necessity and ordinariness. As a general rule, this is defined from a global perspective, for the present and for normal conditions. While the ex clusivity of resources is evaluated by the entire society, the desirability of resources and the appearance of luxury are determined by the upper class.

 

Based on that, the following table exemplifies some of the many resources that can be differentiated from luxury. Accordingly, the extended basic definition limits the scope of luxury from almost anything to a more reasonable level and therefore already helps to dissolve a large part of the controversies about its definition.

 

Resources that can be differentiated from Luxury

Resources that can be differentiated from Luxury

 

However, there are two limitations: First of all, the necessity-luxury continuum indicates that all luxuries are not equally luxurious, which means that there is also a hierarchical relativity. Consequently, it seems reasonable to distinguish different levels of luxury (see Kisabaka 2001, p. 120 et seq.; and section 8.4.1).

In addition, even though the extended basic definition limits the scope of luxury, it still covers a wide variety of resources such as musical talent, self-determination or Daikin air conditioning systems, which are not relevant within the field of luxury brand management research. Therefore, the scope of luxury will be limited further in the following chapter by differentiating the understandings of luxury by area of research.