If most people can have it, is it Luxury?

Funky handbags

Image by cdnbusiness via Flickr

Today, I went to London for a research visit and while sitting in the train for about 90 minutes I counted the number of handbags I could see and identify for fun. I was not scanning everywhere in the boggy but I was just looking at the people whom I can see directly and those who were passing down the isle. I counted 39 handbags in that period of time. The train stopped at only 3 stations in between and I had to change once, so, I guess there was not much movement but 39 still seems a hefty number.

My next objective was to identify which of these handbags could I identify and classify as luxury. Now, this is extremely subjective measure as I have relatively little knowledge of handbags however, I saw 9 LVMH and 5 Gucci handbags (so easy to identify). This is whopping 23% of all handbags I observed as LVMH and 13% of all handbags to be Gucci. By the way, I saw one Berkin handbag while walking near Canary Wharf.

If an LVMH of Gucci executive looked at it, I believe they will be extremely happy however, this made me worried. The penetration of these brands in mass market is amazing on the positive side. However, the question which arose in my mind was “if most people can have it, is it luxury?”

Would love to:

1. hear from you all about your own experiences of travel and spotting handbags too.

2. Moreover, I would really like to know how do you feel when someone else has got the same ‘luxury’ item you have got?

Waiting to hear from you all…

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11 Comments to “If most people can have it, is it Luxury?”

  1. Mandy Roberts says :

    Completely agree with you Dr. Shukla. If all can have it, where is the luxury aspect left? When I see others using the same type of handbag or stuff I have, I cringe. Feel like never using it. By the way, I loved your blog theme!

  2. Kaye Ruggle says :

    With LVMH what you are saying is obviously the case but not with all brands. And then most top-end luxury brands never put their logo upfront like LVMH or Gucci does, do they?

  3. Jalpa says :

    I strongly believe, Luxury is all about owning the brand! If someone is using the same purse i have, i will surely give it to charity! Its never about Same and Similar, its always about “The Only One”!!!

  4. Dr. Paurav Shukla says :

    Very interesting thought there Jalpa. The ‘market of one’ as we have been discussing about in the field of marketing since last 2 decades is so relevant to luxury industry however, they seem to be going the other way round. Funny how companies think the grass is always green on the other side of the fence.

  5. Kassini says :

    No way! Luxury is all about uniqueness and when a lot of ppl buy that same brand, the brand value goes down. I will not buy anything which is bought by all of my friends. I want something unique for myself. Something SPECIAL!!!

  6. Martha Rogers says :

    Couldn’t be written any better. Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! Always thinking about how unique whatever she bought was… I never cared for such things but she was all about it. I guess the others have answered the question but my understanding is that luxury is a luxury in whatever form, if it is a true luxury. Take a Pearl Neckless for example. It will always remain a luxury, however many ppl own it.

  7. Sapan says :

    My answer would be a clear NO. Why would I want something which is luxury when others have it. I want it to be purely for me. Even a diamond is luxury and the piece may be same as all others in the world, I want it to be wrapped in the gold ring very differently than all others. It has to be MY PRECIOUS. lol

  8. Issaree says :

    I partly agree with the fact that I want something special and different, and when others have it, I don’t want it anymore. It is true about each model of the bag but not the brands. If most people I saw carried LV Speedy 25 I would choose a different one, although still LV. There’s also a sense of belonging as well if you happened to see someone else who look like she’s from similar background, you would think ‘ok, great mind think alike’ – I sometimes even smile at them. It’s not the same feeling you see others wear the same TopShop dress as you. Moreover, it is also the state you are telling others, hey, I can have it too you see – you are not the only one person in the world. I worked on a research with Chanel once and they quietly want to drive the volume sale as well (like every brand!), you have to therefore maintain the approachable models and then top models or customised models at the top end. I know Victoria Beckham owns every Berkin and that’s why it’s starting to get popular too. I’d say, it’d make me feel slightly less special, but doesn’t totally change me to switch the brand to be honest… furthermore, it even drives me to buy a new model with the same brand.

  9. Tierra says :

    It depends on the market. A true luxury consumer may cringe at the idea of too many (the masses) having access to the handbags or products they indulge in. However, the availability to the masses is what attracts aspirational consumers to luxury brands (which contributes to inauthentic replica purchases as well).

    But there’s a way to get around this. As Issaree above me states, “If most people I saw carried LV Speedy 25 I would choose a different one”. This is partly the reason brands like Chanel, Gucci, LV, Marc Jacobs, etc. carry exclusive lines of handbags. The knowledge is that, at a certain price point, yes the masses may have the ability to purchase however, affluent consumers will spend the money for a product outside of the popular categories in a higher level line to maintain exclusivity and quite honestly, “bragging rights”. And believe me, product designers and developers know, the odds are if the consumer can’t find what they’re looking for within your product family, they’ll seek out another brand.

    Brands simply have to add value to their higher end products; differentiation from what’s available to the masses, limited number of a particular product contributing to exclusivity, hard to find materials or embellishments and alignment with the affluent consumer’s lifestyle (eco-friendly product production).

  10. Mahesh says :

    The thing whats only I have is Luxury. if other person same like me then i must throw in scrap……

  11. Fullmiiin says :

    I agree that if everyone have it, the luxury aspect get diminished, in the case of hand band and similar product counterfeit imitation are quite common so the idea left behind of luxury is quality, I should understand the imitation is made by poor materials and will eventually break whether the original should be made with good quality leather and last forever. As you may gather I am not the owner of any luxurious hand bag.
    In the case of clothing, for instance suits expensive brands happen to fit better, almost tailored where you can look the most crap in a cheap suit, so luxury is paid for and it is not only about the brand itself but quality materials and more time and care spent in the fabrication process. For instance Levi’s jeans are my favorites, I buy them remove all labels, then no one else have them as mine cant be identified by brand but I am equally happy and they are as luxurious to me

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