Even after the Great Recession, the professional literature on consumer group studies showed graphs demonstrating how the behaviours of premium and mass consumers were beginning to separate drastically. Even back then, the basic fact had to be made clear that just because someone has a lot of money, they cannot necessarily be considered a premium consumer if they are not spending that money at the proper intensity. It was also important to point out that premium consumption was more and more intertwined with the purchase of “luxury goods”, meaning that when we talk about premium shoppers, we are primarily thinking of the consumers of luxury items. If the saying about the opening bifurcation was true in 2008, it is even more true after 2020.
The Luxury Consumer
Many have tried to categorise these consumers in a way that makes sense; however, they tend to approach the question from the side of money spent. However, this leads them down the wrong path. There are obviously consumers who enjoy the act of spending a lot of money; however, it would be a mistake to put luxury consumers into this category. Although the end result of the process is the purchase of expensive goods in both cases, we have to understand that these groups do the same things for different reasons. The lack of undertaking surrounding this question can be blamed on the fact that even though there is enormous demand on the market for premium products and services, it is still very easy to slip up when someone is just starting out. For luxury consumers, the ability to spend their money on products and services that the majority cannot afford is among the most important factors. By doing so, they are essentially placing themselves in a higher category, which has very few members. This categorisation itself can elicit serious envy among the masses; however, the most important differences among the consumers of luxury goods are perhaps “virtue” and “behaviour”. If we assume a world where everyone who can purchase luxury goods is able to do so because they deserve it, the masses would be able to accept the differences arising as a result. The problem is caused by the fact that it is more or less impossible to track and clearly define the system of principles based on which we could say that you go right because you deserve it, and you go left because you don’t. Perhaps one of the best examples is the case of the famous and sometimes notorious rap stars. People see them purchasing the most expensive cars and drive them around wearing mountains of gold and diamonds and think they do not deserve all this. But is it true that they acquired these riches undeservedly? Who says so? Does Cardi B, to mention one of the best-known faces of this group, not deserve her mansion, clothes, and shoes? Even if she gets a part of these for free as part of an advertising deal? But when one works hard day and night and still cannot provide for their family, it does boil one’s blood to see how much money can be earned from these not-so-clever lyrics. Cardi B is a luxury consumer. But is she a typical luxury consumer? I wouldn’t say so! And are the masses truly displeased with her spending obsession? I am confident that this is not the case. Since whenever she opens her mouth, a Nr. 1 hit falls out. And for that, it wouldn’t be enough if only other luxury consumers listened to her songs.
Does this category exist at all? Is it truly possible to acknowledge that any given person deserves a standard of living built on unnecessary spending? And if the dislike of luxury consumption is so common, why is this market such an unstoppable powerhouse? It has to be acknowledged that just seeing that this side of life exists gives the masses hope. Or if it doesn’t give them hope, it allows them to forget for an hour or so, or even just push to the back of their minds the everyday problems they are struggling with. Then they read about how high Chanel’s or Louis Vuitton’s turnover was in 2020 and they get a bit grumpy. But what is it that motivates luxury consumers? In most cases, it’s to differentiate themselves from the crowd, which could have underlying psychological causes. It is quite clichéd to say that if someone grew up in a poor family, they can really enjoy being able to spend without limitations for the first time in their lives. They fought their way to the top from nowhere with studying, hard work, and deprivation. And in the end, they became a luxury consumer themselves. Of course, their behaviour and upbringing were different but they still became one. However, this could all be said about Cardi B as well. Could this mean that there is no difference between luxury consumers? There are certainly differences in demography, background, not to mention all the other aspects. However, one thing is certain. If we want to be successful in the premium business, we have to understand their lives and motivations much better than we do now.