Co-author Rebecca Robins, of the must-read resource book Meta-luxury: Brands and the Culture of Excellence is a champion in strengthening and making sense of the often misunderstood definition of ‘luxury’ and its fast changing dynamic as the appetite and consumption of luxury evolves like never before in history.
This book released in 2012, is a must-read to get a clearer understanding and to make sense of what luxury really is — to know what are its key pillars, to understand what it is not, and it maps out something of a blueprint to what makes up the DNA of a luxury brand, a true luxury brand, and moves luxury beyond luxury. Getting beyond the marketing term and taking ‘luxury’ into the future, the authors take you inside via conversations with extraordinary talents in the business of luxury.
Five years after its release we caught up with Rebecca Robins, to get a sense of what’s happened in the industry since the book came out and how it has made an impact.
Q & A with Rebecca Robins
What inspired the writing of this book?
The state of the industry inspired Meta-luxury. The term ‘luxury’ has come to be attached to such a spectrum of offer and demand, that it had been diluted and misused to the point at which it had lost so much of its real meaning. As brands were wrestling with whether to even apply it to their business, there was a real need to address the debate – and to offer a solution. Meta-luxury: Brands and the Culture of Excellence was the result.
What did you envision or hope the outcome of this book would be on the luxury industry after the ideas and concepts were a subject of reflection and absorption?
Launch day proved to be pivotal with a column dedicated to Meta-luxury written by Vanessa Friedman in the Financial Times. This went on to summarise the thinking and business model as “closer to rationalising the current situation than anything else I’ve seen thus far”.
To provoke debate and to inspire action in brands was the core intention of the book. Meta-luxury was and remains different to other business books, in both the provocation of point of view and in offering practical guidance on sustaining growth as a luxury brand.
If a brand or maison wanted to use the book as a tool or catalyst for change, how would you recommend it be used to help them?
There was a lot of early interest from luxury brands, seeking a deeper understanding of themeta-luxury model and its application to their business. Meta-luxury is a business model based on a culture of excellence, underpinned by four drivers of demand and is a practical framework that has been used and continues to be used, by a number of leading luxury brands.
While it is used in absolute terms, by these brands, it can also be used as a benchmark for the management of premium brands.
I have a deep respect for brands that have grown across generations. It is humbling to think of unique knowledge that is centuries old, being carried forward today and maintaining relevance with new generations. I’m equally fascinated by the brands that are being created as we speak, by the new changemakers and new visionaries. Having the right foundations in place around your brand has been proven to both protect and sustain the business in years to come, so to any younger brands that are looking for some agile and effective advice, let’s talk..!
Do you see any evidence of clarity in definition of luxury since the book was released?
The intention of writing the book was to provoke debate and inspire action and it continues to advance both agendas. Meta-luxury has also been adopted by a number of business schools and on both undergraduate and postgraduate courses around the world as a key text and as a benchmark in luxury brand management and education. It’s all the more inspiring to find Meta-luxury embedded into melting-pots of entrepreneurship and innovation.
The business model of meta-luxury is based on the capability of businesses to sustain a culture of excellence. And sustainability of the model is key, prioritising effectiveness over efficiency, to ensure the brand is protected over the long term. These are brands that operate at the confluence of craft, focus, legacy and rarity. These are brands that are about culture and that relate to culture, through connecting their timelessness to our times.
Interbrand 18th Annual Best Global Brands Report
As Interbrand releases 18th annual Best Global Brands report, it is telling to look at the trajectory of the luxury brands, five years on from publication of Meta-luxury. And many of the principles and points of provocation have played out. Hermès, a brand established on the very premise of a culture of excellence, has asserted its ascendance, to claim a unique position in the context of all other luxury brands in the Top 100, to record year-on-year, double-digit increase in brand value (2015 and 2016). Read the Interbrand Top 100 2017 http://interbrand.com/best-brands/best-global-brands/2017/ranking/
Read more from Rebecca in her luxury sector overview: http://interbrand.com/best-brands/best-global-brands/2017/sector-overviews/luxury/
Rebecca Robins is Global Director at Interbrand based in London and co-author of Meta-luxury. She has extensive experience in branding, consulting a diverse range of clients across a number of industries and having held a variety of roles in New York and London. A prolific writer, Rebecca has been featured in such publications as The Economist, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. This is her second book, having co-authored Brand Medicine (Palgrave). Rebecca holds a first-class degree from Cambridge University in French and German and an M. Phil. in European Literature. On Twitter @robins_rebecca