How Technology Is Changing Our View of Luxury
Luxury is an idea focused around the exclusivity of a product or service. If everyone has access to something, then it’s not exclusive, thus falling out of our definition of a “luxury” item. From clothing to jewelry, to homes, to today’s luxury technology, luxury is synonymous with elegance and quality available to a select sector of society.
The Idea of Luxury is Not Constant
In 2018, a survey of over 5,000 high-income luxury consumers worldwide were given a survey to better understand differing thoughts regarding the idea of luxury between the United States, Mexico, China, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. Perhaps the most interesting finding from this study, implemented by Marriott International and Skift Research, was the fact that 75% of all respondents, no matter from which country, agreed that “luxury” has an entirely different meaning today than it did to their parents’ generation. In other words, luxury doesn’t always stay stagnant; rather, it is constantly changing.
Another finding of this study revealed that high-end consumers tend to purchase luxury items with the intent to differentiate themselves from others; to put themselves on a different level. Although this hasn’t changed much in comparison to past generations, it has shifted slightly. Today’s high-income consumers tend to be among the first users of modern luxury technology, setting a trend of tech-usage for others to follow.
Because of this change in the way high-end consumers are spending their money, today’s modern brands need to align themselves with keeping up with current technology, if not staying ahead of the curve.
Luxury Technology: Creating a New Definition of Luxury
The definition of what we see as “luxury” is changing as digital technology evolves and globalization continues. Our idea of luxury has transformed from being able to simply purchase exorbitantly-priced items to display one’s social status, to wanting to experience life more abundantly in multiple facets, all of which can be achieved through luxury technology.
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The new definition of luxury includes the ability to:
- Experience a Higher-Quality of Life
- Better Oneself
- Have Broader Access to Knowledge and Technology
- Gain Higher Levels of Cultural Intermingling
All of the above goals are accomplished through the use of luxury technology, whether on a small or grand scale. Some examples of luxury technology include:
- The Latest and Greatest Generation of iPhone: Having the newest and most technologically-advanced iPhone is expensive for the average consumer, but it is a form of luxury technology that shows the world you have the best of the best in terms of mobile technology. This is a great example of a luxury technology item that is available to more than the upper class.
- Luxury Vehicles: Expensive cars have always been a symbol of luxury. Today, luxury vehicles also include advanced luxury technology; from the way the engines operate to practically driving themselves. The socially-elite still use luxury cars to show off their wealth because typically, luxury vehicle prices are way out of financial reach for the average consumer.
- Heated Bathroom Floors: Stepping out of your spa-shower or soaking tub onto a heated floor screams luxury because it’s most definitely not essential to any bathroom, but it is fantastic. The average consumer is most likely not going to have a heated bathroom floor, but more affluent consumers just might.
- Apple Air Pods: Another luxury technology within reach to the average Joe are Apple Air Pods. Nobody needs them, but they are definitely handy and rather expensive in terms of earbuds.
- Smart Home Technology: In today’s luxury technology world, you can practically have a full conversation with your home. From bathroom mirrors featuring computer displays to simply speaking to the lights or sounds system, smart home technology is everywhere. This form of luxury technology is also available to many average consumers, although the socially-elite will most likely have a home featuring more smart home technology.
- Spa Bathrooms: There is an astounding number of luxury technology options for the bathroom to turn it into a spa-like retreat. From chromotherapy showers that deliver LED color therapy to toilet bowls that open, close, and flush by themselves, the possibilities are endless. Most average consumers don’t have the financial means to indulge in luxury technology to create an in-home spa, but more affluent consumers may.
Access to Luxury Changed
Luxury Technology has also changed who has access to luxury items and experiences. Today’s 3D printers make gaining access to once hand-crafted items like luxury watches and automobiles easier for people in a lower tax bracket. Companies are using this technology as a means of producing parts to more intricately-designed products with 3D printing technology. This means the price of higher-end products can be brought down, and people who once only dreamed of owning certain things now have access to products at a lower cost.
Luxury technology has changed our thinking in terms of what luxury is, allowing more people access to advanced products and experiences, thus defining our new definition: to have a more fulfilling quality-of-life culturally and technologically. While there are still many ways high-income individuals can set themselves apart through luxury technology, because more individuals have access to advanced technology, the whole idea of luxury remains in constant flux.