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I read an interesting article last week in my company’s newsletter. Forbes.com published a Business Wire press release about how consumers are looking at luxury and designer brands in a different light these days. The concept that Sporting “Loud” Designer Logos Can Communicate Unintended Messages may be new to some when they decide to make that purchase on their new luxury handbag.
The logo on your designer handbag or sports car may say far more about your social status and social aspirations than the brand name itself, according to a new study from the USC Marshall School of Business, which finds that luxury brands charge more for “quieter” items with subtle logo placement and discreet appeal.
“Signaling Status with Luxury Goods: The Role of Brand Prominence”, a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Marketing and co-authored by USC Marshall School of Business doctoral student Young Jee Han and Joseph Nunes, associate professor of marketing at USC Marshall; with Xavier Dreze, associate professor of marketing at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, points to consumers who may not realize that shrieking designer logos actually reflect a lower price point than more subtle counterparts. Were our mothers right? Is less actually more?
According to Nunes, “A significant segment of the population does not want to be branded, preferring to be understated and is willing to pay a premium to have ‘quiet’ goods without a brand mark.”
Get this, the study identified four luxury-good consumer species, according to their preference for “loud” goods with prominently placed brand logos versus “quiet” goods, perhaps the little black dress equivalent of subtle status:
For the study, authors examined three categories of luxury goods — designer handbags, high-end vehicles and men’s shoes — with field experiments to survey consumers in a selection of Southern California shopping malls chosen for their demographics. These surveys were employed alongside an analysis of market data (including counterfeit goods) to reach the authors’ conclusions on status signaling.
As I find these results to be pretty interesting, I’d like to use the example of handbags as well, by presenting these categories through women we may all know. The categories are as follows:
- Patricians: “Wealthy consumers low in need for status” who “pay a premium for quiet goods, products that only their fellow patricians can recognize”
- Parvenus: “Wealthy consumers high in need for status who use loud luxury goods to signal to the less affluent that they are not one of them”
Kim Kardashian, need I say more?
- Poseurs, who lack the financial means to buy luxury goods, yet are highly motivated to buy counterfeit items to “emulate those who they recognize to be wealthy” (i.e., parvenus)
I have to say, I hate it when I see people on the street wearing fakes! In my opinion it’s so trashy. This article is dead on because, when you see a person walking down the street with jeans from Conway, a shirt from Rainbow and a pair of Old Navy flip flops with a G-oach-i (that’s coach and gucci put together) bag. You know for sure that they’re bag is fake. Even if it was a good knock-off, the rest of the outfit speaks for itself. If you can’t afford the bag, then you can’t afford it. Save up, decide if its really worth the money, or find another brand that suits your income and rock that, but please don’t try to pretend! Or you’ll just be classified as a POSEUR. Photo pulled from MailOnline.com
- Proletarians, those with no drive for consumption
Now a photo of a Proletarian with a handbag was really hard to find, especially since handbags are a materialistic items in the first place. So I grabbed this one of Reese Witherspoon with the Whole Foods Feed Bag, where the profits from each bag are supposed to feed one impoverished child for a whole year. I find it ironic though, how Whole Foods managed to turn something so useful and eco-friendly, like a reusable grocery bag into an object that is highly emotional necessity. What I’m referring to is the “I’m not a Plastic Bag” designed by Anya Hindmarch. The bags were sold out in 29 mins (!) in Columbus Circle the day that they were released and later were selling for hundreds of dollars on Ebay. The worst part is that there were even knock offs of those bags!
The study’s key findings include:
— Luxury brands charge more for “quieter” items with subtle logo placement and size that appeal to patricians. The authors find that a price disparity of several hundred dollars can be based solely on how prominently marketers display the brand on a purse.
— Counterfeiters predominantly copy the lower-priced, louder luxury goods, which appeal to the non-patrician status-seekers and rarely copy the higher-priced, subtle items.
— Patricians were more apt to accurately rank the value of a luxury handbag. In contrast, non-patricians consistently ranked flamboyant bags as having higher value than the discreet bags that lacked the brand name but were priced higher.
— Patricians were the least likely of the four groups to buy a flashy item, such as a handbag, while the parvenus and the poseurs were more likely to prefer it. Meanwhile, poseurs expressed a significantly greater intent to purchase a counterfeit bag than parvenus.
For consumers, the study’s authors note the following irony: “While many parvenus believe they are saying to the world that they are not have-nots, in reality, they may also be signaling to the patricians, the group they want to associate with, that they are not one of them.”
IMPLICATIONS FOR MARKETERS
Based on their research, the authors recommend the following to managers in the luxury-good category:
1. Develop a set of special signatures, or subtle cues, to distinguish the brand. For example, the authors cite Gucci’s use of bamboo on its products that says “Gucci” without employing a logo. Patricians recognize the signal, while non-patricians do not.
2. Don’t make a brand ubiquitous. A luxury-goods manufacturer should resist the urge to popularize its trademark. If too many people sport the brand’s logo, the mark loses its value. Bottega Veneta is an example at one extreme, the authors say, with the logo appearing only on the inside of its products.
3. Consider advertising to all consumers, not just the target market. For brands that appeal to everybody, the message must be aspirational not functional.
4. Reassess the “pyramid” approach to luxury. Appealing to the creme de la creme to also lure less-sophisticated consumers doesn’t always work.
For a copy of the study, please contact media relations at Marshall School of Business at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: USC Marshall School of Business
Now the question I find myself asking is, what if you’re non of these? I know I’m not a Patrician, and I’m not running out to buy bags with exceptionally large logos to show off, nor am I buying knock-offs; but I’m definitely not a Proletarian, because I love shopping. Is there a word for people who have taste and live on a lower budget? I know a lot of those!
I absolutely love this little cottage in the woods!!! The New York Times featured it on Thursday in the Home and Garden section. [here] I would love to even have a place as little as this for an escape from the city.
I’ve always dreamed of having a beautifully decorated tree house in the woods. I remember when I was young my neighbor had a tree house. It was always our meeting point where he and I would map out the days events of tree climbing, hiking, bike riding and whatever else we could conjure up. After I became a teenager and Ryan moved away, my tree house became the canopy bed past down from my mother. The feeling of having an enclosed retreat always seemed to fulfill my nesting needs. When I first moved to Brooklyn, I bunked with 4 other roommates in a built-up a loft apartment. The space was about 1,000 sq. ft broken up into 6 different living spaces and my bedroom was 8ft by 8ft. It was tiny! But so cozy. My father built me a lofted bed where underneath I could store my clothes and above I could nestle into my bed. I guess that’s why living in a 450 sq. ft apartment now feels like the plenty of room. Seeing the little cottage reminded me of the piece Domino did a few years back.
I searched through my archives for it, and couldn’t find that issue. (I hope I have it somewhere) but luckily other bloggers have written about Linda Aldredge’s woodsy escape (Thanks Spirit Cloth). This tree house if I can remember correctly, the Aldredge’s built themselves. The eco-friendly house also runs on its own, as they added solar panels on the roof. Doesn’t this place seem like a wonderful getaway!
Tree houses have really been on my mind lately, I think it’s because I am reading the novel Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. It’s a fictionalized story about Mamah Borthwick’s love affair with Frank Loyd Wright. Although I heard stories about how he was stubborn and in some cases a bit of a tyrant about his designs, this book brings a lighter note to his personality. His love of nature and organic architecture really wasn’t such an abstract concept, I think everyone wants to live in a home that brings in the outside in. Even in Manhattan, having a place with natural light is a high priority. I’m so thankful of how where I live, we can hear the birds in the morning. Sometimes, we’ll even have the occasional mourning dove visitor on our fire escape.
NYT photo credits: Trevor Tondro – Tree house: if anyone knows the photographer, please tell me. I can’t find the name on the blogs that posted the pictures.
AMC’s Mad Men is back this Sunday (July 25th), and like many other people I’m excited! It’s a cult phenomenon that has effected the country’s design aesthetic by inspiring us in the way we dress (please see Banana Republic [here] and QVC [here])
and even the way we design our interiors (ie. Design Within Reach [here]). I mean haven’t you all noticed the resurgence of mid-century modern furniture in the past few years? Not only is this show full of beautiful people and interesting story lines, but also (in my opinion) it has one constant character, makes it so great. The set design.
Photos courtesy of Interior Design Magazine and The New York Times, photographer: Carin Baer
The designer Amy Wells is wonderful with creating period interiors that feel authentic, and in some cases entirely modern. Her work can also be seen in the beautiful film, A Single Man. I must admit, I was very excited when I noticed the fabric on Charley’s headboard is the same kind I plan on using on my Louis Chairs!
I found an interesting interview by Interior Design Magazine with Amy Wells, you can read Conquest of Cool [here]. I also read an article published in The New York Times this past Sunday called, Back to Work for ‘Mad Men’ [here] which discusses the changes that will be happening in the new season. Can’t wait.
photograph by: Lauren Gries
Last week I wanted to write a witty post about how as we celebrated our independence, we should also be remember how much of England we owe our lives to American in interior design, music, fashion etc. Well I didn’t get around to it soon enough to do the post so I just decided to forget about it. However, tonight as I was reading through the new Thomas O’Brien book American Modern, his introduction basically explains my thoughts perfectly.
“Although I’m often referred to as a modern designer, my job is, I think, more about editing what has come before and making it into something new. I’ve always felt you can’t move ahead unless you know where you’re coming from, in order to really decide what you want to take with you and what to leave behind. In American design, that entails a particular debt to English and Continental influence, filtered through colonial assimilation, rural enormity, and the intensity of the city. Remixing those ingredients – making that mix your own – what I like to practice. I do believe there is something in that process which is quite American in spirit, ultimately modern in implementation.”
O’Brien goes further to say
“Practicality, industry, boldness, scale. Simplicity and sincerity. Innovation. These are the ingredients of American modern style.”
Betsy Burnham’s dresser seen on Decor Demon
Maybe it doesn’t fully explain what my post would have been about, but it describes the ideas I would have liked to evoke. I have grown up in America and fully appreciate what this country has to offer and has given me in my life. However, I feel that there are too many people in America who forget about where and how this country came about. If it weren’t for England, we wouldn’t have America. There would definitely be a country here now, but it just wouldn’t be the same. In any case, whether it be an understanding of our country or just anything that we enjoy in life, I think it really important to have an understanding of where and why that came from. I would see it so much in college where people would want to make something that referenced a certain style of design, or just ‘liked’ something, but never actually took time to research what that style was and why it even existed. I have to say, that would drive me crazy!
“Design can be many things to many people, but to me, it has always been about tradition in modern life. I am guided by traditions, both inherited and studied, which I will bend to the moment I’m living in. I’m one to look back in order to move forward.” – Thomas O’Brien
On a lighter note, I’m really impressed by O’Brien’s new book. Although I’m only a few pages into the text (there is more than the usual design books), I have flipped through the photos and have already chosen a few favorites. Above are images pulled from aero studios and Laura Resen, the photographer.
Last year my brother got hitched! While he and his wife only invited the parents to the ceremony, which happened up in the mountains of New Hampshire (only mode of transportation to site was on foot). Their wedding reflected their personalities perfectly. They live in the mountains, hike and go ice climbing for vacation, brew their own beer and own 3 maybe 4 cats.
A few months later, on a brisk September day, they held a celebration for the family and friends. It was a simple, sweet, understated but elegant garden party that expressed what I think is the classic meaning of a wedding. A celebration of two hearts united. It proves however, that you can put together a great party on a budget with a little help from your friends, family and creativity. Here a few images from the event all taken by yours truly.
The Couple: Nate chose to wear his favorite New Hampshire tuxedo, fleece, Carhartts and a plaid tie. Kelli a little more formal, wore a vintage inspired, above-the-knee, white dress.
The Food & Decor: A lot of the decor was made by the bride herself. She gathered the mason jars for floral arrangements, sewed the napkins from fabric scraps and cuttings, the flowers were picked from the family garden, and the plates and dishes were a mix of my mother’s china and rental. The delicious menu was created and catered by my other brother, a personal chef owner of Edwardian Feast (Edwardianfeast@gmail.com).
The Cake: The assortment of wedding cakes and pies were made by family members. Some of the more famous recipes have been passed down through generations, ie. the cheesecake!
Bonne Chance to the couple.
All photographs by Lauren Gries
I frickin love chairs. I love all styles and sizes and colors and yada yada yada. When we were in Paris we went to Le Museé des Arts Decoratifs and there was a wall of chairs. I died. A little.
More eye candy. . . from Dior’s Couture showroom
Flea market finds in Paris
and this one from the post: Chair with Bold Prints and Bold Colors
This one from my mom’s house
Lastly, I came across this post on the New York Social Diary about Kayel De Angelis. Who’s family for generations has owned a high-end custom curtain and furniture firm in New York. “Over the years, the firm has earned a loyal following of respected decorators including the likes of Albert Hadley, Mark Hampton and Peter Marin.”- NYSD
Can you imagine having free range of all this furniture. I would love to just visit someday. It’s actually beautiful being able to look at all those pieces covered in white fabric, left to be appreciated for their lines and structure. The last image is a pair of finished fauteuils for Albert Hadley. Yum! Photographs by Jeffery Hirsh