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What Matters Most to the Luxury Buyer

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Sarasota Bayfront and downtown view from the wraparound balcony of 10216 46th Ave W.

Over the last decade, the term “luxury” has acquired more and more ambiguity. Ask 10 of your friends what “the good life” means to them and you’ll undoubtedly receive a variety of responses – generally based on location, upbringing, hobbies, etc. As an affiliate of Luxury Portfolio International, Michael Saunders & Company has access to this evolving profile of high-net-worth individuals via bi-annual white papers. These studies are a collection of insights from the company’s 200+ luxury broker network and its research partner YouGov and are used to identify trends that influence the purchase decisions and values that drive the luxury sector.

For a quick overview of Luxury Portfolio’s most recent study – Luxury Real Estate: What Matters Most to Today’s Global Elite – check out the latest Saunders in 60.

A recently released commercial for the Infiniti division of Nissan drives home a message that “luxury should be lived in.” The ad begins with the previously understood “rules of luxury” that read: Look but don’t touch. Touch but don’t use. Use but don’t enjoy. And enjoy, but don’t show it. As the gramophonic tones of the announcer deliver these lines, images of the current Infiniti consumer going to parties and even eating a hamburger in the vehicle are juxtaposed with the black-and-white shots that communicate the antiquated luxury of the past.

The Japanese car manufacturer strikes a resonating tone within these 30 seconds. Luxury is objective and has, over the years, started to become synonymous with another word: “Experience.” That is: What experience is afforded to me if I…

  • Vacation to this destination?
  • Purchase this item?
  • Live in this location?

Examples of this are seen in the travel industry in particular, with tourists opting for vacations that allow them to scale mountains, visit organic coffee farms or even take a 24-hour expedition to Antarctica.

Part of that ideology also extends to the world at large and many high-net-worth individuals are asking another poignant question: How can I positively affect the experiences of those in my community? Previous Luxury Portfolio white papers entitled “The Affluent Buyer: A Quest for Meaning” and “The Rise of the New Aristocracy” explore this at greater length, finding shared qualities in those that sought real estate in similar price brackets and those that share intrinsic values based on when they have come into their wealth.

With this gradual shift in the luxury identity, brands will need to certainly be savvy in 2019, but more importantly, they’ll need to be human. RealTrends reported that among the many trends we’ll likely see these common themes:

The Marriage of Technology and Humanity:

Efficiency is a wonderful asset, but the bell curve of value to any high-end customer wanes when technology takes the place of human interaction. Anyone that has repeatedly pressed “0” in the hope of talking to an operator and not an automated response system can relate to this one. Brands likely to succeed in an era when technology can tap into every consumer profile on the world wide web will find a way to harness that intelligence and merge it with emotional intelligence. RealTrends cites Moda Operandi, Fusion Academy and Hello Alfred as being pioneers that will set the new normal.

Consumer to Consumer Marketing:

Move over celebrities. Today’s consumer is on to your Instagram platform promoting, and despite the #ad, they’re more likely to trust a friend down the street or a local influencer that has more experience with a product or service. Brands in 2019 will forego investing in many high-profile celebrities for advertisements and rely on their best assets – true ambassadors that understand a company for its product, service and the way in which it conducts itself when met with consumer dissatisfaction.

Facebook Dropoff:

RealTrends notes that “one in five affluent consumers report actively discouraging friends, family and other people they care about from using Facebook,” and with the recent negative press it’s no mystery why. With the threat of data breaches and the misuse of information growing more abundant in today’s technological landscape, high-net-worth individuals stand to lose a lot should their identities be compromised. While luxury brands won’t completely disappear from the platform, they’ll likely find other ways to engage with their consistent customers through omnichannel experiences that take data and deliver it with customized product suggestions and, of course, white-glove service.

Let us know what “luxury” means to you in the comments below, and if you’re interested in seeing the luxury real estate afforded by some of our beautiful Gulf Coast neighborhoods, we suggest reaching out to one of our highly-qualified agents.


What Matters Most to the Luxury Buyer was last modified: January 9th, 2019 by Samantha Emelock