The 12 Disrupters


Luxury brands who have something to hide have everything to fear. The free flow of information has made the idea of perpetual secrets obsolete. Brands can either choose transparency or have it thrust upon them, but can no longer claim ignorance. True sustained success in the marketplace comes from sharing a traceable story that delineates the social and environmental impacts of their supply chain and remains accountable for its choices.


Luxury shouldn’t be about laziness, or theft of creativity from competitors, but about thoughtful inspiration from within the luxury brand that stays true to its individuality. Finding inspiration in its own history and story and iterating to remain authentically relevant.


The luxury consumer previously defined luxury by an abundance of choice. Today’s consumer is overwhelmed with information and now defines luxury by being offered a curated list of the best options. These options must be compiled by a true tastemaker and/or early adopter who points the consumer in the direction of their interests and values without all the noise of the competition.


In the past, the luxury brand was often conveyed in its own singular voice. Today, consumers are actively contributing to a brand’s narrative, and sharing their own interpretations, which become part of that brand’s identity. Luxury today is about having a real, authentic, and interactive conversation within the marketplace, while providing educational content to satisfy the desire to access the brand in the first place.


Many luxury brands have traded in the slow burn of artisan creativity for fast luxury in search of a quick profit. Luxury today is defined by a return to the art of slowing down and being present with a special product or within an extraordinary experience. Anything truly luxurious is worth savoring for a few extra moments.


Old luxury was about counting calories, chemical sugar alternatives, clothing that held you in and up, and workouts that pushed the body, often devoid of thoughtful direction. Today’s wellness focuses on mental, physical, and emotional health. It’s about food programs that respect differences in our genetics, values, and lifestyle goals. It’s about exercise regimens that are thoughtful and promote long term flexibility, mobility, cardiovascular health, and strength.


Historical stereotypes that exclude on the basis of race, religion, gender, and sexuality have garnered considerable criticism and turned brands that were once staples into pariahs. Today’s messaging needs to be one of inclusion, respect, and equality – one that reflects the new world order that contemporary movements have righteously fought for and expect.


Old luxury was about creating standardized experiences where the consumer knew what to expect and was looking forward to it. Today, the new luxury is about creating personalized moments that celebrate individuality. This is notably visible across verticals such as hospitality where the large luxury chains were aspirational and hotels sought recognition for having features like the largest pool in the region. New luxury is about the boutique property, the sommelier that knows your favorite wine, and the hotel room that has a sense of place before you even open the drapes.


The true ethos behind luxury is quality craftsmanship & longevity – buy it once and you’ll have it forever. It’s about savoring that family heirloom because, less really is more, when each thread is pure and precious.


History and heritage will always play critical roles in defining a luxury brand. Luxury must continue to cling to these notions but think of them as life rafts rather than anchors. An anchor holds you in place as the tide passes by, while a life raft keeps you afloat and moves with the tide. New luxury is about iteration. It’s about learning how your product maintains its core values while staying relevant, exhilarating, and inspiring on the journey from past to future.


Luxury brands often prioritize relationships with consumers in the physical world while neglecting their community in the virtual space. This leads to sterile websites, unanswered comments on social media, and a faux-mystique that pushes people away rather than drawing them in. Luxury brands must develop a consistent connection with consumers by empowering the relationship between physical and virtual and form a cohesive message that merges both realities.


Indulge is the message consistently pushed forward by old luxury, yet the consumers they seek are much more multifaceted than simply desirous of self-indulgence. New luxury brands should seek to engage with consumers on a variety of levels – including their lifestyle and social values. Consider the flooded airline space and one illustrative example of one of the world’s largest airlines who seeks to connect with its consumers based on being the first to adopt same sex partner benefits and non-gender binary booking options. Luxury messaging speaks loudest when aligned with multiple layers of its sought after consumer.