Why ‘Human Upgrading’ Is The Ultimate Luxury

I am often asked the question, what is luxury? While some may argue that it’s a dream or pure emotion, I propose a more precise description: it’s the ability to create extreme value for a client. Or, if we switch perspectives, it’s a person’s belief that an experience created extreme value for them. Hence, something is only luxury if its perceived value is dramatically higher than that of other experiences.

Through my research on unlocking hidden value drivers of luxury, I found that an anticipated shift in perception is what drives value. In a groundbreaking study, I was able to show that if someone sees the exact same person in two different settings, the luxury setting (say a man with a Rolex or a Patek Philippe watch or a woman in a Chanel dress) offered a significantly more positive perception of the person than a normal environment (say, the man now wears a Swatch or the woman the same dress but now we think it is made by H&M). People felt that the person in the luxury setting was more attractive and had a higher self-esteem, greater expertise, more opportunities, and a more interesting life.

If an anticipated shift in personal perception is the key driver of perceived extreme value — hence the fundamental accelerator of seeing something as luxury — then it is logical that any brand, product, or service that can help people improve their anticipated future has a strong potential of becoming the ultimate luxury.

This is not surprising. For many people, spending a day at a beautiful spa, getting pampered through an exceptional massage, or indulging in a spectacular resort are moments of extreme value. In times where people feel the pressures of an increasingly complex and fast-paced reality, emotional wellbeing becomes an investment into self. These include guided retreats, detoxification treatments, and the rediscovery of ancient healing practices and rituals.  

But human upgrading can go much further. Ankha Marza, the founder and CEO of Speak Your Power is one of the best coaches in the world in her field. Her focus is communication, public speaking, leadership presence. She helps supercharge opportunities in life and guides with sensitivity, expert insight and heart. She’s done this with CEO’s and their teams, founders, students, Navy SEALs. “Your voice and presence are your gift and power. Use them to awaken, influence and inspire” Marza says. “It is critical to understand and connect with each of my clients, so I can help them eliminate what’s holding them back, help them see more of their superpowers and show up as more of who they already are.” It’s a great example of working closely with a person and providing extreme value by maximizing their potential.

Traci Moon, a well-known life coach and psychic who is often shuttled in by her clients in a private jet to even the most remote locations, helps people through a multi-step process to unlock their power without fears and anxiety. Her method provides her clients with exceptional mental clarity and action-oriented tools and techniques to support important decisions in their lives and manifest profound and lasting change, feeling in full control. According to her, “the moment when people take control of their destiny, while they feel deep empathy and compassion is a true game changer in the lives of people.”

Meanwhile, gyms at the high-end have become increasingly sophisticated, providing motivating experiences that go far beyond the workouts. In Santa Monica, Los Angeles, the Human Upgrade Center takes the gym experience to a different level. Workouts are done using a high oxygen environment to achieve better results in less time. Another brand, the Superhuman Protocol, promises a sequential system using magnetic pulses, oxygen-supported workouts, and red-light therapy to dramatically change the way people feel: the ultimate well-being. 

Upgrade Labs’s Oxygen Trainer uses interval hypoxic-hyperoxic training, which is similar to the altitude training that top athletes use to improve performance. Photo: Upgrade Labs

During the recent Pepperdine Disruptive Luxury Symposium, one of the key insights was the amount of spending that the ultra-wealthy assign to bio-hacking, having the best personal trainers in the world, and having private chefs that curate healthy food. Wellness, health, and longevity are the new luxury.

The trend of a human upgrade through technology originated in Asia, with a particular interest in Korea, Japan, affluent Chinese. Oxone therapies, oxygen bars, detoxifying treatments assisted by sophisticated tools, and a sheer endless variety of heating, cooling, nourishing, or soothing patches applied all over the body are already somewhat mainstream. The metaverse further boosts opportunities in human upgrade: virtual reality apps help countless people to meditate, find focus, and make endurance sports like indoor rowing and cycling feel like a computer game, transporting people into dystopian worlds, serene sceneries, or into outer space. The extreme value creation of human upgrading is literally everywhere.

Metaverse fitness startup Holodia uses virtual content to make workouts more fun. Photo: Holodia

And in Hollywood, many celebrities transformed their bedrooms into large hyperbaric chambers, allowing them to sleep in their beds with pressures up to 2.5 atmospheres and with 95-97 percent oxygen, helping them to maintain a dramatically younger appearance and boost their energy for on-screen appearances. It’s a technology that is becoming increasingly popular and chambers can cost $40,000-$100,000 or above, the equivalent of many premium cars.

Providing extreme value to people, products and services that promise a human upgrade the ultimate luxury. The highest value perception is, in fact, when we feel a brand or a service truly cares for us and improves the way we are.

This is an op-ed article that reflects the views of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Jing Daily.

Named one of the “Global Top Five Luxury Key Opinion Leaders to Watch,” Daniel Langer is the CEO of the luxury, lifestyle and consumer brand strategy firm Équité, and the executive professor of luxury strategy and pricing at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He consults many of the leading luxury brands in the world, is the author of several best-selling luxury management books, a global keynote speaker, and holds luxury masterclasses on the future of luxury, disruption, and the luxury metaverse in Europe, the USA, and Asia. Follow @drlanger


The Future of Luxury