In a constant attempt to divide into segments the luxury market, based on its higher or lower exclusivity, the “accessible” one has been for years an identity factor. Nowadays, though, defining oneself as such sounds almost like a sentence
It is the land of “if” and “could be”. And it risks to turn into a neverland. Through the years, the so-called accessible luxury has been an identifying segment for the high-end range. Almost its entry door, from where you could catch a glimpse of an absolute top dimension, while still being, at the same time, within the reach of a much larger public of consumers. Now, nevertheless, this space looks very uncomfortable. Analyst Erwan Rambourg from the Chinese magazine Jing Daily explains why.
Once upon a time there was accessible luxury
The starting point for the analysis is the pyramid of luxury. You can see it in the picture. At the top, brands like Hermés, Bottega Veneta, Dior have a strong hold. At the centre, we have like a transit zone. A bridge, where the most exclusive lines of historically “accessible” brands, such as Michael Kors, as well as Longchamp and Mulberry place themselves. Below, at the bottom, there are some that could (or would like to?) try to take a big leap while, on the contrary, they are risking a demotion. That’s because staying in that zone too long, especially considering the present pandemic drive, has become dangerous. Very much, indeed. For four reasons.
Number 1: we are living through historic times when the diktat seems to be “buy less, buy better”. As a consequence, when consumers decide to spend money on a bag, they prefer to buy a product from a higher segment, even if it is more expensive.
Number 2: “Not being really global might be a problem”, Rambourg says. In fact, traditional players of accessible luxury, such as Coach and Michael Kors, are still too US centered. And this is a big limit.
Number 3: the presence of products in outlets or of strong sales promotions limits and eats away at the prestige of brands.
Number 4: the growth of second-hand fashion. Why would I buy a new “accessible” bag, when I can have, for the same price, a used one from a brand at the top of the pyramid? The answer sounds just like a sentence.