EVIAN, France — “Customers are looking for a more intimate and confidential experience,” confirmed Alain Dominique Perrin, chief executive officer of Richemont SA, in his keynote address at the WWD CEO Beauty Summit.
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“Scarcity and craftsmanship will return as the first criteria of luxury and a brand that will again embody the values of ritual, cultural expression and spiritual meaning, as opposed to materialism alone,” he continued, adding this has been a trend predating the events of Sept. 11.
But to start his speech, Perrin traced the evolution of luxury, from what he called “divine,” to “boundless” today.
“After World War II, Europe was submerged by American values, which changed some attitudes and behaviors, [including] chewing gum, jeans, Coca-Cola, mild cigarettes…and, moreover, marketing,” he said.
Then, in the Sixties, luxury brands, primarily in France, discovered the power of marketing, which was first adopted by cosmetics brands, such as L’Oréal and Chanel, he said.
One decade later, continued Perrin, the “global brand” concept developed, and the luxury goods industry witnessed the insurgence of so-called luxury global brands.
“Today, ‘boundless luxury’ is mainly identified by badges, logos and star products, but quality remains a priority,” he said. “The product value lies in its brand image, its capacity to please and to assert itself, rather than in its utility.”
The luxury industry changed for numerous reasons, explained Perrin. For instance, the gap between adults and children is narrowing. Hobbies and fashions all reflect this, he said. Also, he said, “science allows the development of the whole non-aging industry via plastic surgery and cosmetology.”