Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Luxury shame

The Economist reports that:
some shoppers are embracing austerity not just out of necessity but also as somewhat of a fashion. Ostentatious parsimony is the new conspicuous consumption. . .

Ryan Vinelli at New York’s Yeshiva University noted in a recent paper the emergence of what he calls “luxury shame”. Mr Vinelli reckons that outrage against the public handouts to rich bankers and businessmen has turned sentiment against eye-catching displays of wealth. Although his analysis applies to luxurious items such as designer handbags, similar behaviour may now begin to affect the grocery till. IGD’s research has found that whereas purchases are plunging for organic foods (seen as a personal indulgence for rich consumers), they are holding firm on fair-trade and locally sourced products (also sold at premium prices but seen more as a way to do good to others).
The paper is here as a 199KB PDF. Money quote:
“Luxury shame,” or the anxiety felt by consumers for buying luxury brand products, is a radical departure from attitudes displayed just a year ago. There is increasing evidence that this anxiety, either in the form of guilt or shame, is forcing consumers to either forgo purchasing luxury products, or to completely change how they purchase them. For instance, the CBS Early Show aired a segment about women avoiding purchasing luxury goods in stores (i.e., in person) in favor of purchasing via exclusive websites that mail the goods in discreet packaging (i.e., anonymously). Exclusive online merchants such as Gilt Groupe (gilt.com), and Ideeli (ideeli.com) profit from the luxury consumers’ shame and guilt by offering luxury shopping away from the public eye.
I don’t know – this is not my world. Sounds like a chick thing, really. I’ll have to ask the guys at Bunnings how they deal with it.

No comments: