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The Luxury Experience: How High-End Brands Moved from Things to Feelings

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The DRUM – by Ken Gordon

The Luxury Experience: How High-End Brands Moved from Things to Feelings

Experiential luxury. Those two words have recently become synonymous. “Think about life a decade or two ago: back then, status was derived by tangible things,” says my colleague Rochelle Wang, Associate Director of Experience Consulting at EPAM Continuum. “More and more, we see that today’s luxury is less about one’s material possessions and more about the stories one tells.” In 1984, Hermès launched the Birkin Bag, and luxury consumers went shopping. In 2023, the same people are busy playing the Hermès game. It’s a different world. “Now, the things that you experience are the trigger, the stimulus for the present and future stories,” Wang says.

Pietro Duchi, Director of Innovation Consulting at EPAM Continuum, agrees. He says experiential luxury is “all about relationships,” specifically “the story beyond the product, the curation and the ability to weave a narrative around the product.”

Duchi talks about the product as “an anchor”, and that real value resides in the ability to remove the frictions and worries “that take up space in a customer's mind and then fill that space with real value,” elements that “can inspire the curiosity” and “make them feel alive.”

It’s about creating what he calls “the right feeling in the right place at the right time with the right product.” The experience of luxury might be about getting to an experience early. Or wearing something that nobody else has seen. Getting to know the designer personally. 

A key part of that access is about providing it in the proper environment (it’s not always digital and it’s not always in-store). Luxury brands must constantly ask: “What is the feeling we can create for the customer?” then think: “Which channel is most appropriate to deliver that feeling?”

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