Among the most successful luxury brands in 2023, there are a remarkable number that focus on sophistication in a more understated way like Zegna, Hermès, and Brunello Cucinelli. In the ever-evolving landscape of luxury, a trend that has been quietly reshaping the industry is "quiet luxury."
Though it's not a novel concept — quiet luxury was known as "stealth luxury" in the past — its resurgence marks a pivotal shift in consumer behavior, underscoring a deeper, more introspective relationship between consumers and luxury brands.
How relevant the topic is in boardrooms all over the world is indicated by the sheer number of requests for workshops and masterclasses on how to best adjust brand strategies. Quiet luxury, in its essence, is an understated form of luxury. It shuns the ostentatious, favoring subtlety, precise storytelling, and craftsmanship over conspicuous branding. This trend reflects a growing segment of consumers who seek value in the intrinsic qualities, the cultural importance, and the magic of a brand — its philosophy, design ethos, intentionality in materials, and the story behind its creation — rather than its ability to broadcast status without too much focus on inner values.
The shift towards quiet luxury is significant for several reasons. Firstly, it reflects maturation and sophistication in the luxury market. Consumers are looking beyond blatant luxury symbols and taking a more refined approach toward luxury. It's a sign of a more discerning customer base that values authenticity, quality, and exclusivity over mere display.
For luxury brands, this trend presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge lies in balancing this new subtlety with the brand's inherent identity. Luxury brands have traditionally thrived on their ability to be recognized. The logos, the distinctive designs, and the brand stories are what set them apart. Quiet luxury demands a rethinking of this approach, focusing more on the essence of the brand rather than its emblematic representations. Cultural capital becomes more important to many luxury clients than purely showing off.
Luxury brands have traditionally thrived on their ability to be recognized. Quiet luxury demands a rethinking of this approach, focusing more on the essence of the brand rather than its emblematic representations.
However, it's crucial for luxury brands to approach this trend without losing their brand identity and story. It's about finding new ways to express their core identity that align with the principles of quiet luxury. This might mean focusing more on storytelling that highlights craftsmanship, heritage, and the unique value proposition of the brand.
Importantly, this needs to be done in a maximally differentiating way from competitors. Simply talking about quality and craftsmanship does not work in a reality where even entry-level brands have adapted this messaging. A sophisticated storytelling approach is needed for brands to be successful in selling quiet luxury.
The opportunity here is immense. Embracing quiet luxury allows brands to connect with their audience on a deeper level. It's about creating a relationship based on shared values and understanding. Brands that successfully navigate this shift can foster a loyal customer base that values the brand for its ethos and not just its emblem.
The rise of quiet luxury is more than just a trend. It's a reflection of a changing consumer mindset — one that values subtlety, authenticity, and a deeper connection to products. For luxury brands, the key is to listen, adapt, and find that sweet spot where the brand's story authentically resonates with the principles of quiet luxury.
This isn't just about selling products; it's about crafting experiences and relationships that embody the true spirit of luxury.
This is an opinion piece by Daniel Langer, CEO of Équité, recognized as one of the “Global Top Five Luxury Key Opinion Leaders to Watch.” He serves as an executive professor of luxury strategy and pricing at Pepperdine University in Malibu and as a professor of luxury at NYU, New York. He’s authored best-selling books on luxury management in English and Chinese, and is a respected global keynote speaker. Daniel frequently conducts masterclasses on various luxury topics across all continents. He’s a sought-after luxury expert, appearing on platforms like Bloomberg TV, Forbes, The Economist, and more. Holding an MBA and a Ph.D. in luxury management, Daniel has received education from Harvard Business School. All opinions expressed in the column are his own and do not reflect the official position of Jing Daily.
Follow him: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drlanger, Instagram: @equitebrands /@drdaniellanger