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INTRODUCTION The term luxury usually defines not a category of products but a conceptual and symbolic set of dimensions. These dimensions comprise values that are strongly related to cultural elements and the wider socio-economic context (Vickers & Renand, 2003). Vickers and Renand (2003) recognised luxury goods as symbols of personal and social identity. Luxury is often used as a social marker, as a social stratification tool to reinforce a hierarchy (Okonkwo, 2010, Kapferer & Bastien, 2009). Due to the subjective nature of the luxury concepts and the complexity to define it, perceptions of luxury brands are not consistent across market segments and geographic locations (Phau & Prendergast, 2000), since they depend largely on each consumer's perception of indulgence. A common denominator between consumers in both Western and Eastern cultures is that the purchase of luxury brands serves to portray individuality and/or social standing (Nueno & Quelch, 1998; Vigneron & Johnson, 2004). Consumption of luxury brands is largely determined by social function attitudes (i.e. self-expression attitude and self-presentation attitude) as consumers express their individuality (e.g., need for uniqueness) and exhibits their social standing (e.g., self monitoring) through luxury brands (Wilcox et al., 2009). It is of growing importance for researchers and managers to understand how consumers' perceptions of value, influences buying criteria and behaviour (Tynan et al., 2010; Wiedmann, Hennigs, & Siebels, 2007). The perception of value by consumers is given a higher importance (Tynan et al., 2010) however the measurement of luxury value is not agreed amongst scholars and practitioners. Vigneron and Johnson (2004) proposed a structure of the luxury concept and presented the “brand luxury index” framework. Wiedmann et al. (2007) offered a conceptual model of luxury value perceptions highlighting four dimensions, namely: social, personal, functional, and financial values. Tynan et al. (2010) have adapted the earlier work by Smith and Colgate (2007) on generic value framework and suggested a conceptual model based on the following concepts: utilitarian, symbolic/ expressive, experiential/hedonic, relational, and cost/ sacrifice value. With the emergence of new concepts and levels of luxury, the measurement of value becomes even harder. According to Unity Marketing (2006) “…‘old luxury' was about the attributes, qualities and features of the product and much of its appeal was derived from status and prestige. The new luxury consumer defines the category from their point of view. Today's new luxury consumers focus on the experience of luxury embodied in the goods and services they buy, not in the ownership itself.” Robins and Ricca (2012) propose an alternative perspective on the established ‘new' vs. ‘old' luxury dichotomy. According to the authors, the more brands define themselves as belonging to the world of luxury, the more the concept becomes meaningless as luxury becomes ‘massified'. They introduce the concept of Meta-Luxury as a new form of luxury that escapes the cliché of luxury and establishes the “luxury beyond luxury”. In these complex scenarios, luxury brands are on a constant quest to remain relevant and maintain a sustainable competitive advantage. According to Beverland (2004) marketers now need to use “a complex combination of dedication to product quality, a strong set of values, tacit understanding of marketing, a focus on detail, and strategic emergence” in order to effectively manage luxury brands. With the recent focus on co-creation of value, luxury brand management has evolved to include dialogue and complex interactions between the brand owner, employee, customers and other social groups and communities (Tynan et al. 2010) making success factors harder to track. Purpose This paper aims to conceptualize a measurement tool that could be used in the evaluation and classification of a luxury brand's performance and to assess how these dimensions evolve as the brand moves from mature towards more emerging luxury markets. This paper seeks to make a contribution, by providing a systematic review of the definitions of a luxury brand provided by various authors. It seeks to establish patterns and inconsistencies and to summarise them in a performance measurement matrix (the LPM framework) which can be used to identify growth strategies and to support future managerial developments. Design/methodology/approach The methodological approach followed in this paper was to systematically review the academic literature on luxury brands and to reduce the numerous factors cited as components and identifiers of luxury brands to a more manageable number of macro-themes. Through the analysis of the dimensions identified (with a further distinction between ‘new' and ‘old' luxury brands), the researchers intended to clarify the key elements of success that impact on brands competitiveness, leading to the definition of the items in the scale. In order to validate the elements, a survey was implemented to identify the most crucial indicators by building on the results of the systematic review. The aim of the survey was to clarify detailed criteria for each of the dimensions in order to construct an effective measurement scale. The scale was tested on four luxury brands selected amongst those perceived as ‘old' / traditional luxury and ‘new'/emergent luxury. Findings Amongst academics and practitioners there is no common agreement or clear parameters that delineate what luxury is or the strategies such brands employ. This leads to confusion in the definition of the elements that constitute a luxury brand as well as in the brand management process. This paper proposes an alternative measurement scale to the Brand Luxury Index Scale developed by Vigneron and Johnson by focusing on a strategic overview of the performance of luxury brands in the UK market. It attempts to evaluate the performances of key luxury players by using a value-curve approach (Kim and Mauborgne, 2005) as a measurement tool. The value curve is a both a diagnostic and an action tool which captures the current state of play in the market space. The different constituents of the proposed Luxury Performance Matrix (LPM) should be considered when measuring the performance of a luxury brand and its capacity for value creation. The visual representation of the LPM model, allows marketers and brand managers to easily evaluate what aspects and strategic directions should be prioritized. It also allows to capture the brand's performance across the key competitive factors of the industry and to determine which factors need to be raised above competition as way to increase competitiveness in the marketplace. The Luxury Performance Matrix proposed in this paper represents a major contribution to the measurement and evaluation of the competitive performances of established and ‘new' luxury brands, in mature and emerging markets. Originality/value The proposed matrix will allow luxury brand managers to assess the current presence in the marketplace and develop more in-depth understanding of the brand's performance. The findings provide valuable strategic insights for luxury brands operating across emerging and established product/market contexts.
Context – The luxury market has, in recent years, continued to grow substantially and has been helped by the boost and growing appetite of emerging economies. Indeed Luxury is one of the fastest-growing brand sectors (Berthon et al., 2009). Due to the high supply and vast choice available in the various segments including luxury goods, consumers nowadays are no longer loyal to one single brand but they prefer to choose and have a demanding and critical attitude towards exactly what they want to purchase (Okonkwo, 2007). By looking at the recent transformations in the globalised and ever more connected world, we can see that the luxury market has expanded, from a limited availability to a select group of consumers (the few who could afford the price), to a market with more people of moderate means having access to the product and all its inherent passion (Okonkwo, 2009, Silverstein and Fiske, 2003). However, the concept of luxury, although defined widely (Dubois et al., 2001 and Vickers and Renand, 2003, among the most popular definitions), does not appear to have a consensus on the definition (Choi, 2003; Wiedmann, Hennigs and Siebels, 2009). It is crucial to understand the reasons why consumers buy luxury (Kapferer and Bastien, 2009; Keller, 2009) and the perception process (Tynan, McKechnie and Chhuon, 2010; Wiedmann, Hennigs and Siebels, 2007). Learning how consumers process their knowledge from the attributes of a luxury brand and attribute them a meaning (perception process) followed by a certain conditioned response (learning process experienced due to culture or brand's marketing strategy), appears relevant to unveil the effectiveness of luxury brands across European consumers. Moreover this understanding should be framed in a cross-cultural context in order to be relevant for the sector (Dubois, Czellar and Laurent, 2005; Shukla, Shkula and Sharma, 2009). Purpose – The aim of this study is to measure the effectiveness of luxury brands strategies, through a cross-cultural comparison. By doing so, the authors attempt to develop a framework that intends to measure the perception process alongside purchase intentions, mapping it with the marketing strategies that have been proposed by brands at different segments. Design/methodology/approach – The methodological approach followed in this paper was to systematically review the academic literature on luxury brands and identify the different concepts of luxury as well as provide an overview of the segment from a European perspective. Through the analysis of the brand strategies used by different typologies of luxury brands (inaccessible, intermediate and accessible), the researchers intended to clarify the learning process and meaning transfer that takes place in the studied markets: UK, Spain, Germany and Italy. Motivations for buying luxury were also measured from a transnational perspective to fully understand matchability in the perception process and purchase intentions. This research has used existing theories based on the areas mentioned above to create hypotheses that were statistically tested using SPSS, evaluating if hypotheses raised can be supported or not. By deductive reasoning, established theories were used to develop and examine hypotheses in contemplation of the explanation of laws (Bryman and Bell, 2011), using a deductive research approach. Through quota sampling the results can be generalized to a larger population. Originality/value – Several authors have pointed out the need for further analysis on luxury value perception (Shukla and Purani, 2012; Tynan, McKechnie and Chuon, 2010; Christodouilides, Michaelidou, N. and Li, 2009; Vigneron and Johnson, 2004; Wiedmann, Hennings and Siebels, 2009) The knowledge on consumers' perception of luxury should be enlarged and better methodologically oriented, making a transnational research project like this of greater importance. With this in mind, the findings provide valuable strategic insights for luxury brands to use across the different EU markets. Findings –We are running the research so to have the results and provide the expected contribution with this paper.
Research Context The term User Generated Content (UGC) refers to a wide range of consumers' contributions shared through digital and social platforms. These contributions can take the form of blogs, articulated collections of images, homemade videos (or even “homemade advertising” campaigns) and various types of product reviews and product usage demonstrations (Berthon, Pitt, & Campbell, 2008; Fader & Winer, 2012). In a previous study, we reviewed the OECD (2007) official definition of UGC to encompass the evolving and more holistic nature of this phenomenon. We defined UGC as “content in the form of text, sound, visuals or videos, which has been created by or in collaboration with consumers and disseminated through social platforms across various digital and non-digital channels. UGC can be centered on a brand, product or service or revolve around a topic/issue of interest to the consumer. It can be either solicited as part of commercial or non-commercial initiatives or contributed spontaneously by the consumer” (Montecchi & Nobbs, 2012). Marketing managers are now facing a completely different landscape where the more traditional approaches to brand promotion “are giving way to a messy tangle of market-based communications consisting of multiple authors including customers, competitors, observers, employees, and interested collectives” (Muniz Jr. & Schau, 2011). In this context, UGC is a clear representation of how the balance of power and control has shifted from brands to consumers (Sheehan, 2010; Pires, Stanton, & Rita, 2006; Berthon, Pitt, Plangger, & Shapiro, 2012). Amongst the various sectors which have benefited from a constant growth of digital channels and consumers' online engagement, the luxury industry has shown some astonishing results. After an initial skepticism, major luxury organisations have embraced digital channels from both a distribution and marketing communications perspective, following the success of online pure-players such as Net-A-Porter. With online sales projected to grow steadily, luxury brands need to learn how to engage more effectively with a new generation of hyper-connected customers by re-addressing the balance of power and control they want to manage. Purpose of the Research By building on Smith, Fischer, & Yongjian (2012) framework for the analysis of UGC, this research aims to map the features of brand related UGC across three social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) with a particular focus on the luxury product/market context. Through the analysis of a sample of brand-related digital contributions, a set of customer profiles will be constructed to highlight further targeting opportunities for luxury brands. Three brands operating at global level (Louis Vuitton, Rolex and Burberry) will be selected as the context of this investigation since these generate a significant level of consumers' discussion and engagement on digital media. Methodology The research design is based on observational netnography and content analysis (Ertimur & Gilly, 2011; Kozinets, 2002). A sample of 100 consumers' contributions for each brand, published on each of the three selected platforms, will be analysed for a total of 900 pieces of UGC. The framework which will be used for the analysis is derived from the research conducted by Smith, Fischer, & Yongjian (2012). It allows researchers to explore the level of customers' self-presentation, the centrality of the brand in the content shared, whether there is an attempt to a brand-directed communication and associated responses and whether the content is more factual or emotional. The brand sentiment in each piece of content will also be measured. The results of this analysis will be used to construct a multi-dimensional set of customer profiles by building on the UGC typologies identified. This will provide luxury brands with an effective tool to enhance their market segmentation and targeting capabilities.
Luxury retailers are said to be leading the way with investment in instore technology (Patel 2013). As consumer decision making has shifted from the rational to the emotional and experiential (Kim et al., 2009), luxury fashion retailers are increasingly investing in experiential retailing to provide a differentiated retail experience and encourage consumers to dwell and consume. However, although academic research has identified the increasingly important role of technology in consumers' lives (Gilmore and Pine, 2002; Kim et al., 2009; Srinivasan and Srivastava, 2010), there is a lack of research on technology implementation in the luxury context; on how it could be conceived and what beneficial effects it would have on the shopping experience. The aim of this research to explore the adoption of in-store technology within the luxury retail store environment with respect to the motives and methods employed. Motives include the proliferation of e-commerce, the showrooming concept, to increase dwell time and spend instore, to enhance the level of interaction with customers and also that in-store technology can be a PR generator. There are three main methods that luxury brands have been using technology in their flagship stores and these are functional, inspirational and experiential.