Changing meaning of luxury

Changing meaning of luxury

Luxury has a rich heritage. Not only from the brands themselves but also from their clients and their luxury needs. The meaning for clients of luxury has definitely changed through the years.

“I’m sure you have seen the movie The Titanic,” says Jean-Noël Kapferer, co-author of The Luxury Strategy. “At that time, luxury was segregation. You had people at the bottom of pyramid – or the boat – and people at the top, and they didn’t mix. They were not allowed to move from one tier to another.

“Today that is finished. There are still people at the top and still people at the bottom, but they want, for maybe five minutes, ten minutes or half an hour, to go to the top of the boat and to enjoy luxury”.

Although the importance of luxury is not likely to change any time soon, we can see a change in client needs. Traditional luxury markets like Europe, the US and Japan are becoming more aware that luxury does not fulfill the feeling of wellbeing. In newer markets, such as China, clients ask for more meaning. One that goes behind the logo.

“The luxury sector has been an important arena for the preservation of traditional skills, as well as for technological advances since the middle ages,” says Glenn Adamson, the Museum of Arts and Design’s Director. “The history of luxury is intertwined with many other subjects such as the early development of mass production; the refinement of electricity and domestic appliances; the expansion of rail, car and air travel; and cross-disciplinary experimentation in contemporary fine art.”

The meaning and need for luxury depend on a couple of factors. Exclusivity, accessibility, changing expectations and economics and political factors are all of influence on the clients’ behavior and their perception of Luxury.

Written by Claire Boerma


Doran, S. (2018, March 1). The New Luxury is Luxury For All, Suggests Jean-Noël Kapferer. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from

MaD. (n.d.). MAD and La Fondazione NY to Host Program Discussing Role of Luxury in Today’s Society on September 27. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from