The Luxury Buyer Mindset: Principles and Paradoxes


I was recently making a return in the mall and had all intentions to be out of there and back in my car and on my way before I could buy something. As I made my way to the parking lot, I saw in the distance a new storefront in the mall’s long luxury wing. I took a minute to stretch my neck, looked at my watch, and excused myself an extra ten minutes to meander down the hall.


What does it take to capture and keep the attention of the Luxury Buyer?

Liminal Research recently conducted expert interviews with both female luxury purchasers and retailers who cater to the segment.  The exploration included the following categories: clothing; accessories; furniture; fine and costume jewelry; auction participation; art.


Here are just some of the watershed insights we found:

  • Luxury attracts two different audiences: those for whom high end products are the fabric and context of their lives, and those who select specific luxury items to tap into an aspirational lifestyle. Most high-end brands today need to take both target audiences into consideration.

o   The principles of the True High End Luxury Buyer:

  • Women buy for other women
  • We have a rare appreciation for the qualities of luxury
  • Exclusivity is key
  • Luxury is my milieu
  • We draw a ‘moat’ between us and mass purchasers who want what we have
  • We have access and special privileges

o   The principles of the Aspirational Luxury Buyer:

  • Luxury is my reward
  • It provides acknowledgement from others
  • Brand recognition among like-minded women is key
  • Being included among those who value and can afford luxury purchases is imperative
  • Luxury purchases are made despite trade-offs and sacrifice
  • The Internet has changed the entire face of personal interaction.

o   Luxury buyers are getting used to a shopping experience in their own time, their own space, their own pacing, with their own agenda

o   Being ‘buzzed in,’ once the privilege of a few, may now feel invasive

o   ‘Face-to-face’ can feel ‘in your face’

o   Personal assistants within the store may be seen to have the brand’s interest at heart, not the customer’s


Three key questions for Luxury Brand Marketers…

  1. How does a brand maintain exclusivity while creating awareness and desire among aspirational buyers?
  2. How does a brand embody youth in image and design while being emotionally and physically accessible to and appropriate for older ‘women of means’?
  3. How to create a truly ‘top-tier’ experience at retail, when buyers have opposing expectations? How can online convey both the luxury experience and be a conduit to sales?



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