Expect a “sold out” notice shortly after the new Louis Vuitton Horizon Light Up Speaker launches this summer. The portable wireless speaker will cost around $2,900 US, placing it clearly above comparable speakers by Bang & Olufsen and others. And despite the rather high price point, the hype is real.
When the French luxury brand launched its Horizon Earphones a little more than two years ago, many were skeptical: would the market accept an earbud for more than $1,200 US. But consumers reacted enthusiastically. According to industry voices, sales far exceeded expectations. I remember that during a case study at my luxury MBA class at Pepperdine University I showed the in-ear buds to my students and everyone went wild!
They also loved the case the earbuds came in. It’s heavy, beautiful, and unusual, and far superior to practically any other earbuds on the market, making the Horizon Earphones not only an amazing audio source, but also a fashionable statement piece to use or display.
The same playbook is now being used to promote its new loudspeaker. And it’s not just about the sound, but the design is stunning and category breaking. Inspired by its popular Toupie handbag, an iconic piece introduced as part of the Fall-Winter collection 2019, Louis Vuitton defies any expectation of how a loudspeaker should look. With a precious combination of leather and steel, the new speakers resemble more of a spaceship than a traditional speaker.
And when you start playing music, it lights up, changing colors according to the sound that is played, which explains the name. The entire experience activates all your senses, and in the process, creates a true “wow” factor. What many would call a gimmick, gives the speaker its unique identity, proving that speakers have become more than just functional objects.
Louis Vuitton takes this a level further by adding aspects of fashion, playfulness, and entertainment to the speaker category. In light of the Horizon speaker, suddenly many existing offers by some of the incumbent brands simply seem boring and visually uninspiring. As a result, customers — even if they already have premium speakers at their houses — now have not just an incentive, but also the desire to exchange their existing conventional speaker with the more exciting Louis Vuitton offer.
Most brands on their first attempt to enter a new category would have played it safe. However, playing it safe is playing to lose in luxury. Instead, the brand — which is headed by Michael Burke, one of the most influential and inspiring CEOs in the luxury industry — decided with his team to take a risk by breaking rules. And I am convinced that the risk will play out boldly.
This is what luxury is about. Creating desire by telling a story — and by becoming the story. When the news of the new speaker broke, the internet was on fire. I am sure the speaker will change the way people think about the category — it’s a masterpiece in extreme value creation and yet another great addition to a brand that excels at creating desire.
Daniel Langer is CEO of the luxury, lifestyle and consumer brand strategy firm Équité, and the professor of luxury strategy and extreme value creation at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He consults some of the leading luxury brands in the world, is the author of several luxury management books, a global keynote speaker, and holds luxury masterclasses in Europe, the USA, and Asia. Follow @drlanger