Studies have shown that the appeal of luxury is primarily psychological. The psychology of luxury, however, is pre-eminently centred around emotions. After all, part of being human entails allowing our emotions to guide us in making decisions. Emotions and feelings are also components of rationality in that they reveal what is really and truly important to us. Evidence suggests, however, that the decisions we make when it comes to buying luxury is fundamentally driven by our emotions. For example, we can be emotionally drawn to good design or a particular experience.
We are drawn to luxury by deep emotions of love, nostalgia, empathy or pride which we attach to an advertised product or lifestyle. This enables us to make the purchasing decision more easily, even if the price of the product may be fairly high. When purchasing luxury, we are greatly motivated by the emotional end-benefits that we associate with an experience or with acquiring and owning a particular product.
These benefits are related to our motivations for establishing self-identity and our desire for self-improvement. In other words, it provides us with a sense of status, empowerment, confidence, security and contentment. The emotions of luxury are, in turn, triggered by the authenticity and timelessness we perceive to be integral to luxury.
Luxury thereby becomes emotionally integral to both our lifestyle and our identity. As the psychologist dr Noel Murray describes it: “there are multiple dimensions of emotion which affect the luxury consumer. The … market is motivated by emotions evoked by enhancing perceptions of the self through luxury products.” In other words, its appeal lies not primarily in what luxury is, but about what it does for us in terms of emotionally shaping our self-perception and identity. Luxury not only makes us feel in a certain way, it also enables us to be the person we aspire to be on a deeply-held psychological and emotional level.
Luxury is therefore, in a certain sense, defined by the emotional effect it has upon us. Through emotion, luxury provides our lives with a sense of purpose and meaning, which enables us to find fulfilment in life. For this reason, luxury branding and marketing needs to be aimed at triggering a intrinsically emotional response. Emotional luxury branding needs to launch an emotional appeal to the psychology of the luxury consumer and the emotions that luxury triggers.
Luxury brands therefore sell not only products, but emotions. Triggering the right emotions and creating the right associations are absolutely integral to the promotion of your luxury brand. In order to effectively do this, however, it is vitally important to thoroughly know both your target audience and the emotions that really resonate with them.