I bet most of us have, at least once, seen a celebrity – no doubt a Kardashian — flexing on Instagram the famous five-thousand-dollar Chanel tennis racket or the seventeen-thousand-dollar Chanel bicycle — and probably even felt some kind of jealousy because they look really good in photos. But excluding the billionaires reading this post, most of us cannot afford to pay thousands on an ordinary object just because they carry with them some luxury brand logo.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, luxury is a “status of great comfort, especially provided by expensive and beautiful things”. But is a hundred thousand dollars Louis Vuitton toilet totally necessary for you to feel extremely exclusive? Or even a ten thousand dollars Tiffany silver ball or yarn? We know some people just like to flex, but why do luxury fashion brands keep coming up with weird accessories and daily-use items for a large amount of money? Are they trying to fool us? We have some answers and some reasons why.
- Exclusive and Super-Exclusive
First, we have to analyze high-living standards products in distinction to “popular products” from luxury brands. The first one is designed for a selective part of society that price doesn’t really matter. They exist so the middle class cannot afford it, cause if they could, the concept of luxury would be empty. They are not “necessity goods” and, in the majority of times, don’t even have a function. They are “as unnecessary as they are expensive”; served to create a perception of scarcity and prestige that is incredibly valuable to consumer brands. The second still an expensive item but produced on a large scale so there’s more availability, making that where they get their profit from.
- “Halo Products”
Those brands know that the high prices on their products are not according to the material cost, but from the value it delivers to the person who buys it. The buyer becomes part of this super-exclusive group that has the same stuff as them as if they were investing in their perceived self-image. And they know there will always be someone that wants a $400 ice cream scoop. They are not made for the public, but only for having it on their portfolio, which people will only get to see online by influencers or by going to their stores. These are called “halo products”, that help maintain the luxury brand’s status, making it a great advertising campaign.
According to Ricardo Narche, a marketing student at ESPM and a fashion enthusiast, “the luxurious lifestyle started to move on from clothes and accessories because they were getting more ‘accessible’. Many people were buying it, so it progressed to other categories that only a great amount of money could afford it. The halo products strategy is a great way of introducing this lifestyle on people´s daily basis, making objects like an ordinary cup with a maison logo turned into a must-have for the ones who like to show off, especially on social media.”
- Please, talk about me!
All press is good press. So when we´re on Twitter making fun of the $1000 Tiffany silver tin, we’re all talking about Tiffany. While they can sacrifice some products for the memes to keep their status, they need high-priced category products to carry an unreachable image. “Talking good or bad, they get the attention. The question is that will always have both sides: people who like it, and who doesn’t. So if you make an article saying bad things about some product, it will not take 100% off the brand’s credit; it will promote curiosity about it”, said Ricardo.
In 2017, Tiffany took it to the next level by releasing the “Everyday Objects” collection, with items such as silver clothespins, a band-aid box, a silver pencil sharpener, and several others. Of course, people made fun of it, with the collection and their prices all over the internet. As CNN Business said, “if they create a little buzz around it, the line will be viewed as a victory”. As a nor really coincidence, the same time the collection was released, Tiffany opened the Blue Box Cafe in New York City. The cafe, that needed Millenial attention to succeed, uses the silver objects from the polemic collection so people could stop there just to take a look at it.
- Don’t Believe The Hype
But we cannot talk about weird objects being sold by luxury brands without talking about Supreme. They are very known as a streetwear and hypebeast company. The red logo brand has a long list that goes from brick and paper liquor bags to a crowbar and an air horn, but they are uncommonly hard to find (and their retail prices are an arm and a leg). David Shapiro, the author of the 2015 book “Supremacist”, says that he views the brand as a long-term conceptual art project about consumerism and that those labels are challenging our notions of what a clothing brand can or cannot do.
According to the “SO Boutique Creative Design”, which is specialized in luxury marketing, “when you limit access to your brand, it increases the desire for it”. Narche added that the exclusivity proposed by limited production is what levels it up and makes it less popular, even though they have products with approachable prices. So maybe that´s the reason Supreme has an enormous queue every season or every new drop, even when they are not selling clothes or regular items.
- Apple’s Mac Pro Wheels
Another example of overpriced is the $700 Mac Pro Wheels. Apple released some wheels that are more pricey than an iPhone, and their perceived quality is totally different, after all, one of them is a cellphone with the last generation software and the other is literally just some regular metal wheel for you to buy if you want to take your Mac anywhere if you – even though you can only used it if puggled into the wall. Comparing to their other products on the market, the average price for computer wheels is $40; Apple’s ones are almost twenty-times more pricey.
A further explanation on why they chose that price is based on a study by the University of Texas that shows that “marketers of high priced products should consider keeping prices high, as many consumers associate high price with high quality”. The price passes the image that it has something special with it. Although people made fun of it and Forbes made an entire article calling it a failure, if you Google “Apple Wheels”, you’ll see tons of unboxing videos and even people making skateboards with it, achieving their goal of making people put the spotlight on them again.
After all, we got to the conclusion that everything — as strange as it might be — has a reason behind it. Every season people criticize and point out the same things but the brands are still making their own way. Fooling or not, and all we have to do is accept it — or just ignore it.
The article above was edited by Rafaela Bertolini
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