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Since the early 1990s, the market for luxury goods has been growing at an unprecedented pace.

2005 estimates by the Boston Consulting Group reached $840 billion worldwide for luxury goods, far
beyond the $86 billion estimated by McKinsey in 1990 (Fiske & Silverstein, 2004). The Luxury Institute
(2007) has suggested that this market would reach one trillion in 2010. Explanations for this dramatic
increase in demand may be complex but researchers and practitioners seem to agree on at least two
major factors that have accelerated this phenomenon: the economic recovery in most western countries
and the unshackled economic growth in South-East Asian nations (Vigneron & Johnson, 1999, 2004); and
the increasing number of new luxury goods made available by improving productivity and quality
management (Silverstein & Fiske, 2003). New luxury goods differ from traditional luxury goods by being
more affordable, more accessible, and by targeting new customers. According to Twitchell (2002, p. 272),
these consumers are younger than clients of the old luxury used to be, they are far more numerous,
they make their money far sooner, and they are far more flexible in financing and fickle in choice. This
phenomenon may be referred to as the democratization of luxury.

As mentioned previously, with new luxury goods being more affordable and accessible, the modest or
even those struggling for subsistence can now imitate and emulate the rich and affluent by driving the
same car brand, wearing the same dress brand, and eating in the same high class restaurant. However,
while the rich and affluent may consume luxury goods to assert status and membership to the elite class,
the modest may consume the same goods to gain status but with a purely conspicuous intention.

As suggested by Mason (2001), the purely conspicuous consumer derives satisfaction from the audience
reaction to the wealth displayed and not from the value of the product itself. Status and
conspicuousness therefore seem to be two different constructs in the consumer behavior literature.
OCass and Frost (2004) define status consumption as the personal nature of owning status-laden
possessions, which may or may not be publicly displayed. Conspicuous consumption is more oriented
toward the evident display of expensive possessions.

The scope of this study goes beyond the traditional luxury market, which is composed of very exclusive
brands with the highest price tags. It includes new luxury brands that are more affordable and can be
found in most shopping malls or department stores. A Polo Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein shirt can be
found in outlet stores at prices as low as $19 in the United States and J 25 in Europe. BMW offers starting
prices at lower than J 21,000 for its 1 series, while the least expensive Tag Heuer watch can be purchased
at J 700. Several major factors have contributed to this affluence of new luxury brands. First, consumers
purchasing power in western countries has never been as high, while the growing middle class has
higher disposable incomes to consume hedonic and status products. Second, substantial gains in
productivity, and the emergence of low labor cost countries as the factories of the world, have allowed
mass production of high quality products with decreasing costs and therefore prices. Furthermore,
consumers are getting more sophisticated in their taste, more educated, more culturally curious, and
have nurtured a desire for product personalization (see Silverstein & Fiske, 2005). They are also more
materialistic, placing greater value on status possessions (Eastman et al., 1997). More and more
consumers are now therefore willing and able to pay a price premium for higher quality, higher status
Supported by the increased scale of mass production means, new luxury brands have emerged to satisfy
these new consumer needs. A growing number of luxury manufacturers have stretched their brands to
capture these enthusiastic middle-class consumers by offering lower entry-prices. Among the most
evident examples are BMW and its 1 series car, Calvin Klein jeans sold at discount retail stores, and
online retailers offering luxury watches at half-price tags. Koehn (2001) notes that it was 200 years ago
when Josiah Wedgwood noticed that people from a particular social class seemed to have an innate
tendency to ape the habits and purchases of the income class directly above them, thus directing a
sizeable portion of their spending towards social emulation. Belk (1988) points out that this desire for
social emulation has always been around and touches even the most modest consumer in Third World
countries. Now, more than ever, consumers can emulate the elite by acquiring new luxury goods, which
are now more affordable and accessible by the masses.

Status and conspicuousness are two of the most important dimensions of brand luxury (Vigneron &
Johnson, 1999, 2004). Status-laden brands are those that contain high perceived quality, luxury and class
(Shermach, 1997). Status-laden brands maybe purchased for internal reasons (self-reward) or external
reasons (signal wealth), and they may or may not be displayed publicly (OCass & Frost, 2004).
Conspicuous brands are those that are purchased for purely external reasons, that is for systematic
public display in order to signal wealth (Amaldoss & Jain, 2005). The difference between status and
conspicuousness, evident in the most recent consumer behavior literature within this context, has been
argued by some researchers (e.g. OCass & Frost, 2004).

In the world of luxury brands, it may appear intuitive to think that some brands are more conspicuous
than others because they hold more materialistic values or are more fashionable. Historically, synonyms
of wealth and affluence in luxury brands have always been Rolex for watches, Mercedes for cars, or Louis
Vuitton for leather products. Consumers could buy a similar brand with the same or even higher status
and price, but this similar brand would certainly not have the same communicative power for conveying
status. Consequently, it would appear inaccurate to assume that a brands prestige can be measured by
mixing perceived status and perceived conspicuousness, as the latter appear to be two different
constructs, constituting two different dimensions of prestige. However, this is what the branding
literature is supporting in its contentions.

Polo, the brand has progressively become more available in a range of outlets which would not have
traditionally reflected the brand image it wants to portray. Recent battles with prominent multiple
retailers have failed to adequately protect the brand from shifting into these types of marketing
channels. From strategic marketing perspective. If a fashion brand is perceived as so significantly low in
status, then its inherent conspicuousness will necessarily fade to the point where it is unconceivable for
consumers to purchase the brand in order to gain status through its conspicuous power (Grant &
Stephen, 2005).
The result is that Levis will fail to attract the increasingly important consumer segments from the new
luxury markets. Polo has focused upon how consumers associate themselves, from a conspicuousness
perspective, developing clever communication strategies that build on this (see Shukla, 2008).

The economic boom in South-Asian countries not only reinforces this growth but also seems to provide
sustainable market growth opportunities. Growing materialistic values, new forms of social emulation,
and increasing worldliness constitute other important reasons to support more research into the
constructs of status and conspicuous consumption, especially in the context of new luxury goods and

Potential research opportunities are numerous: (1) brand related topics including brand extension
strategies and brand dilution for new luxury brands; (2) consumer behavior including new consumer
needs in terms of status and image improvements; (3) empirical testing, since researchers have
produced many conceptual models and theories, which are supported by little empirical evidence; (4)
market segmentation based on new consumer needs for luxury goods.

NO LOUIS VUITTON bag? No life. According to the authors of the book, The Cult of the Luxury Brand,
there is no place in the world where luxury is the currency of power more than it is in Asia (Chadha &
Husband, 2006). Considering the origination of most of the luxury brands in the European world and the
economic status of Asian countries, it is hard to understand how Asia became the biggest market for
luxury goods. The increasing opportunity for global business and the accelerated expansion of national

Economies into the world wide market place have emphasized the importance of understanding
business trends and effective global marketing strategies. The characteristic of consumers are different
among various nations. Thus, marketers should perform an in-depth study of their target consumers,
understand cultural differences of the global market, and know how to sell their product more effectively
in this arena. For example, the reasons why Asian consumers purchase luxury brands may be different
from the reasons Western consumers purchase luxury brands.

The Asian luxury market is frequently described as the largest or the most anticipated market today.
Vincent Shaw, a president for Chanel Asia Pacific, said that international brands are shifting their focus
from Paris, New York, and London to Asian countries, the fast-growing emerging markets, as Asia is
becoming the worlds biggest market for Western luxury goods (Designer Brands. . ., 2008). According
to Chadha and Husband (2006), within Asia, the luxury goods market constitutes 37 percent of the global
market of $80 billion and the actual sum of Asian consumers spending is much higher since they shop
abroad. This amount is compared to 35 percent of spending in the global luxury market that comes from
Europe and 24 percent from the U.S. Also, major luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci,
and Cartier, earn more than half of their revenue from Asian consumers.
For Asians, luxury brands are a modern set of symbols that redefines their identity and social position
(Chadha & Husband, 2006). Many people think their personal and societal value increases as the price of
the brand that they are wearing increases. Thus, it is vital to understand the characteristics of Asian
consumers in the luxury market to become involved in the global luxury industry. In addition, in studying
the business strategy of Louis Vuitton, one of the most successful luxury brands in Asia, it is important to
understand how it has positioned itself well in the Asian market and how its marketing strategy has
associated the brand with Asian consumers. Luxury consumption in the U.S. has been frequently studied

by many scholars and theorists, such as Veblen, in his The Theory of the Leisure Class (1994).However,
when it comes to Asia, while many luxury businesses are not ably booming, there have been very few
studies done to understand the Asian consumers purchasing behavior or to identify luxury business
trends in the Asian marketplace. Many Asian consumers in the luxury market have unique characteristics
and these characteristics are different in each country, such as Japan, South Korea, or China (Chadha &
Husband, 2006). As Louis Vuitton is one of the most successful luxury brands in Asia (Chadha & Husband,
2006), understanding the companys marketing strategy is fundamental to understanding the Asian
luxury market. The objectives of this study are to analyze the purchasing behaviors of consumers from
three different Asian countries (Japan, South Korea, and China) that purchase luxury goods as well as to
identify there as ons why luxury goods businesses are booming in Asia, to analyze the marketing strategy
of Louis Vuitton, and a part of the marketing strategy analysis, to explore the possible differences in
advertising strategies used by Louis Vuitton in three Asian countries (Japan, South Korea, and China) as
illustrated in Vogue advertisements

The Asian luxury market is frequently described as the biggest and the most anticipatedmarket in the
world. The chairman and CEO of the LVMH group, Bernard Arnault, said inthe companys annual report
(LVMH, 2007a) that geographical growth opportunities are mainly to be found in Asia. Recognizing the
regions increasing demand for luxury products, LVMH has been focusing its recent investment in the
Asia-Pacific region. In 2002 there were 62 Louis Vuitton stores in 14 Asia-Pacific markets, which
contributed over 20 percent to the brands worldwide sales. With the companys recent investment,
Louis Vuitton has opened many additional stores throughout the Asia-Pacific region that have brought
greater contribution to its success (Jitpleecheep, 2002).

Overall, the advertising used the same concept, model, background image, size and type of font,
information, logo, and color of the background during the same season (Spring, Summer, Fall, and
Winter). The advertising generally uses Caucasian models, sometimes African American models, either
famous actors or prominent people. Also the advertisements emphasize the sex appeal of the female
models and their alluring images or a luxury lifestyle rather than the Louis Vuitton product itself.
In Asia, where the overall image of the company or the brand is more important than it is in the West
(Schutte, 1998), the representation of a luxury lifestyle in advertising seems to be effective. As Schutte
(1998) explained, the way in which the company is perceived is very important in Asia since a positive
image assures consumers of the quality of the companys full line of goods and services. By emphasizing
a luxury lifestyle by using prominent figures in the advertising, the brand has associated its luxury image
with an object of desire or aspiration.

The study demonstrates that, as a factor of success, Louis Vuittons global marketing strategy has
appealed to Asian consumers that pursue luxury consumption not because the company deploys a
different method of marketing strategy in the Asian market than it does in European or American
markets. The success of luxury businesses, including Louis Vuitton, in Asian markets is related to the
consumer culture and purchasing behavior. Asian culture follows the Confucian tradition while Western
culture has an individualistic tradition. Asian consumers focus on publicly visible possessions and choose
a product based on the social norms of their culture. Also, in the Asian culture, symbolic items often
locate the individual within the social hierarchy and brands are important indicators of product quality.
Meanwhile, Western consumers often choose product based on their attitude or taste and focus on the
internal factors of the product such as sources of pleasure (Wong & Ahuvia,1998).