The Luxury Consumer in 2009

The luxury market is changing, everything is changing due to economic instability. Despite tough times though, luxury will not be lost. As stated by Forbes, affluent consumers will continue to spend but spend differently than before and high-end brands have decisions to make.  Top luxury brands have already begun and will continue to offer massive discounts unlike anything seen yet.

Luxury at a discount is everywhere and an oxymoron in itself. Luxury houses that make steep discounts are devaluating the high-end market sector overall, primarily because the "sale buyer" is different than the "high-end client." Thus to the "high-end client" or core customer base, the goods are worth less and lose exclusivity. Spoiled little girls walking around with once exclusive designer bags will only push core customers to look elsewhere. However, it's a blurry line between discounting too much versus not discounting at all.  Upscale stores have to continue to turn profit or face bankruptcy. Does the designer house, luxury store lock in high prices, as Versace has promised to do; or  do they abandon the affluent client segment for the masses, in the hopes of turning profit now? It seems only time will tell the answer.  One point has thus far been true, in 2009 exclusivity of goods and services will be paramount to the luxury consumer, as will value and loyalty.

"The days of shopping 'til you drop are over," David Lamb, chief strategic officer at diamond house De Beers has said. Along with London-based market research firm Ledbury Research, it has been determined that the high-end, luxury consumer is definitely changing with the harsh times. Demand for socially and ecologically conscious goods is growing. People recognize "green washing" when they see it, which is when a company overstates or misrepresents its environmental commitment. Luxury consumers know more about ethical practices, manufacturing and production then ever before. The ultra rich have tightened up but will still spend if cultivated. The bottom line is that luxe consumers want to hold onto their exclusivity and high class principles. They expect to get more bang for their buck, and absolutely expect to get what they pay for. What are your thoughts on spending in 2009?

The Exclusive Tennis Player

Fine jewelry and silverware company Tiffany & Co. has made something for every tennis player and the diamond tennis bracelet. Rather Tiffany's is offering an 1837 Tennis Ball Can. Designed to hold four tennis balls and keep them at optimal tennis-playing-temperature. The tennis ball can is sterling silver and has the famous Tiffany's insignia, plus numbers 925 and 1837, stamped on the lid. Tiffany & Co. is always looking for that next ordinary item to glamourize and wrap up in a little blue box. The Tiffany's Tennis Ball Can is $1,500. The message that the Tiffany's tennis can conveys is that you're serious about the game, and probably have too much time and money on your hands. We are sure we will see more then just a few sterling silver tennis ball cans in the Hamptons this summer.

Spend Money Honey

All credit cards were not created equal, black is on another level. If you have no credit limit but don't have a black card, then there's something wrong with you. Get one!

Most big spenders are well aware of the American Express Titanium Centurion card or the Black card as it is commonly referred to. The Black card is a coveted status symbol and only about 17,000 total are in circulation right now. To score a black card, you, first and foremost, must be charging a minimum $250,000 a year. You pay the $5,000 initiation fee, plus, the annual fee of $2,500 which is simply worth it considering the perks. Besides a no credit limit, you will have a wholly, personal concierge service to abuse. This means, the best tickets to sold out events, reservations to the best restaurants that were at capacity. Private shopping services that gain you access into major fashion houses, oh, and a private jet with just six hours notice.

Visa, not to be outdone by Amex, has recently launched their version of the black card. The Visa Black card which they tout as the World's most prestigous and versatile credit card has launched. The card is designed out of patent pending carbon graphite for maximum attention. The annual fee is only $495 and the perks are, well, just alright. There's a 24-hour concierge service, a plethora of information and discounts on luxe goods, travel and business services. The original American Express Black card is still our first choice but the choice is yours. Happy spending ya'll!