The strategies to make the luxury business sustainable and exclusive
Luxury brands are known for their high-quality products, rare and exclusive materials, their unique craftsmanship and savoir-faire. The concept of Luxury dates back to the Palaeolithic era (Gilles Lipovetsky, 2003) Luxury brands are known to have a more traditional approach when it comes to their internal or external business practices. On the contrary, when one talks about Sustainable Business and business practices today, it is seen as the way ahead or a more modernised brand pathway. Sustainability has definitely become the definite pathway for all businesses for the future. Having said that, luxury brands and being sustainable actually, go hand in hand.
The new generation of consumers, who, in 2018 alone, drove 85% of luxury sales growth, consists primarily of millennials and Generation Z and demands sustainable practices, messaging and products. Broadcasting their lives on social media, consumers have started to perceive themselves as brands and elect labels that align with their personalized positioning claiming to only associate with sustainable brands.
There are several measures that a business can adopt in order to become more sustainable. Some of those are as follows:
Circular now is Circular future
Sustainability has encouraged brands to rethink their strategies in innovation of newer products that do not harm the environment be it flora or fauna around us. For the longest time luxury brands have always teased our vices by exciting us to indulge into guilty pleasures, be it the exquisite leather handbags, the extravagantly priced and rare mink / fur-coats, or even the unique pieces in jewellery or cosmetics which exploit animals or other natural resources. Now, luxury is all about being careful and conscientious and true to the consumer by bringing about positive changes in the environment without using such materials that cause harm to others. More and more luxury today is consumed by the millennials, who are extremely aware of the damages that the past generations have caused to the natural environment to serve to their indulgent lifestyle purposes. Since, 2018, the millennial luxury consumer today contributes to nearly 85% of the global luxury sales growth (Forbes, 2021) and brands must cater to their needs and lifestyle preferences. Being a circular brand means taking care of the environment, causing no harm and being an honest and sincere brand.
Empower the Artisans
Luxury brands have always favoured the collaboration between artisans and craftsmen to create unique and precious creations to heighten the senses of their consumers. By empowering artisans and craftsmen luxury brands can find the right balance between machine made and handmade products. The collaboration of artists also allows these local artisans and craftsman to sustain these age old skills and keep these local traditions alive for generations to come. It is essential for luxury brands to be able to give back to the local villages and to be able to allow them to grow by employing them.
Today’s luxury is all saving more and causing zero waste, be it in the materials used, or the use of electricity, water or any such resources that are utilized in creating a product. One brand leading towards the zero waste category is Ren Clean Skincare. In the year 2018, this brand made the pledge to become 100 percent zero waste by the end of 2021. The unique idea that Ren also uses is to request their customers to support its direct competitors, but only the ones who have joined hands with Ren in order to promote the zero waste pledge. The brand completely changed their design and packaging philosophy by using recyclable plastic. Then they also starting moving to other parts of their supply chain cycle, such as the pump which was used in their packaging to a pour out cap which is again made out of recyclable plastic and just by doing so, they are saving 4.4 tonnes of plastic in one production cycle. Other iconic brands who are paving the way are of course, the well-known American ace designer Stella McCartney, and the very newly established Hyderabadi designer Asmita Marwa, who in her latest collection followed the 100% zero waste ideology to create a collection out of recycled, upcycled and regenerative designs. She is one amongst the few other changemakers who are leading the way for the Waste Zero Movement.
Replace Conspicuous with Conscious Luxury
Luxury has always played with the idea of indulgence, extravagance and excessiveness. The word itself, luxury means, to be excessive as per many researchers and scholars. However, brands like Cartier, the iconic French royal jeweller of the elite and Patek Philippe have time and again reminded its consumers of Luxury that should be transgenerational, crossing time and boundaries. Which means one luxury product can and must surpass one’s lifetime. With the proper love and care we must learn to pass on these beautiful pieces to our next of kin, not only because it is grows our bond stronger with our family but also because it allows us to be more conscious and less conspicuous as a consumer. It is true that luxury brands always tease us to have more and more of them, but most of the iconic luxury brands that have been around for hundreds of years, live on the philosophy of less is more and a minimalistic approach.
Note: The views expressed in this article are that of Smita Jain, Director – MGLUXM, SP Jain School of Global Management and do not reflect/represent those of Shiksha
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