“Thinking” about Luxury

thinkingDoes your heart quicken when you see someone carrying a Chanel bag? Do your eyes widen when you spy a Lexus LS turning the corner? It’s been said that luxury is not defined by need but by desire. There’s a certain feeling you get when wearing, driving, or obtaining the luxury item. You feel special.

Many of the posts in this blog talk about the role desire plays in luxury sales and customer service (see What’s it to you?” – Igniting Customer Desire and The Value of Luxury). The CEO of Hermès, Axel Dumas, understands how integral creating desire is to his company:

Our business is about creating desire. It can be fickle because desire is fickle, but we try to have creativity to suspend the momentum.

But what if desire weren’t fickle but measurable? Now neuroscience, by measuring how the brain responds to various stimuli, can give us more precise insight into how we respond to luxury brands and how we make purchasing decisions.

The article “Can Neuroscience Unlock the Luxury Mind” by Kate Abnett for BoF looks at studies that measured the brain activity of subjects while shopping. Not surprisingly,  our brains react positively to items of higher value.  Yet Abnett questions whether the luxury industry is ready to use neuroscience to arouse consumer desire:

The fashion and luxury industry, however, has traditionally been slow to leverage the power of consumer research, including neuroscience. Instead, luxury fashion brands have historically hired human specialists with highly attuned sensitivities and high EQs (Emotional Quotient, a measure of emotional intelligence) to understand what turns people on and design products, stores and marketing that will successfully seduce customers.

As technology advances and as luxury brands compete more strategically for consumer attention, we may see what role neuroscience can play in understanding the mind of the luxury customer. Right now I’m wondering if Apple’s new 3D touch will measure the depth of my desire by how forcefully I push on a photo of that new Valentino dress.

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