Looking Back:
Luxury in 2017

22.12.2017 Luxury : Retail : Hospitality

Neuroscience’s transformational effect on the hospitality industry, Mercedes-Benz’s overtures to Millennials, the rise of adventure travel and other stories that highlighted changes across the luxury sector this year.

The Trend: Experience-collectors

Today’s luxurians are tired of high-end hotels that place a premium on pampering and pleasure, and are instead looking for bespoke adventures, the more rarefied the better. Luxury travel services are responding by borrowing a concept from the world of collectible art and offering one-off expeditions unique to the customer.

Blink is a bespoke travel service created by Black Tomato that enables customers to select any point on the map for their next luxury adventure. ‘Blink offers you the chance to experience locations so private and untouched that no one else will have stayed there before and never will again in the same way,’ explains the agency.

This trend is also creating an opportunity for brands to offer technologically advanced adventure gear that grants owners access to otherwise unreachable parts of the planet. In 2017, for instance, Aston Martin and submersible manufacturer Triton collaborated on a luxury submarine, unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show, that will cost about £3m ($4m, €3.4m), with only 12 produced per year.

The Big Idea: Transcendent Wealth

The Art of Celestial Mechanics, by École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne (ÉCAL) and Vacheron Constantin, seeks to redefine the way we measure and perceive time The Art of Celestial Mechanics, by École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne (ÉCAL) and Vacheron Constantin, seeks to redefine the way we measure and perceive time

Being wealthy isn’t what it used to be. Money and status were once characterised by what you earned or owned. Now, in the mind of the complex, conscientious and contradictory luxury consumer, new streams of worth are emerging as we move into the era of Transcendent Wealth.

This is being powered in part by the increased digitisation of everyday experience. For the wealthy, media technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will result in an enhanced reality where the everyday becomes a visual poem, a work of digital art or a meaningful experience of singular significance. Luxury sensibilities of beauty and meaning will be articulated in the digital world.

Access to the most advanced technologies will also mean that luxurians will probably be the first demographic to virtualise their legacies. For wealthy consumers, building intelligent avatars based on a lifetime of digital data will become a way of safeguarding their heritage. Digital memory vaults and posthumous artificial intelligence (AI) identities will replace physical items as the prized possessions that we leave behind for future generations.

The Space: Hoshinoya Hotel

Hoshinoya Hotel Hoshinoya Hotel
Hoshinoya Hotel Hoshinoya Hotel
Hoshinoya Hotel Hoshinoya Hotel

Spaces and services that offer a sense of stillness and simplicity are redefining the high-end hospitality experience. Hotels are drawing on Asian traditions to celebrate simplicity and translating the raw asceticism of traditional Japanese ryokan hotels into luxury experiences.

In Tokyo, the newly opened Hoshinoya hotel is described as the city’s first luxury ryokan. Located in the heart of the city’s bustling Otemachi financial district, the space stands in stark contrast to its surroundings. Instead of a concierge desk, visitors are greeted at the entrance by a contemplative art installation and asked to remove their shoes to avoid disturbing the stillness of the space. The rooms feature straw mat flooring and simple futons instead of beds. Guests are invited to wash in communal open-air onsens – traditional Japanese hot spring baths. Prices range from £750 ($965, €860) per night for a basic room to £1,900 ($2,450, €2,170) during the high season.

The Campaign: Grow Up by Mercedes-Benz and Antoni

Grow Up campaign by Mercedes-Benz and Antoni Grow Up campaign by Mercedes-Benz and Antoni

With Millennial and Generation Z consumers increasingly questioning the validity of car ownership in light of an expanding range of convenient, app-based mobility services, automotive brands, especially in the middle and upper tiers of the market, need to re-establish their value.

Mercedes-Benz's Grow Up campaign in 2017 set out to restate the importance of buying a Mercedes as a marker of maturity. ‘This idea is routed in the brand, that part of growing up is being able to buy a Mercedes, that it signifies the progression to a certain phase of your life,’ Antoni managing director Matthias Schmidt told LS:N Global.

The adverts focus on five stories of young adults trying to find their way in the world, each linked to one of five car models. At the core of the campaign is the idea that, while what being an adult means to a 20something is quite different from what it meant to their parents, purchasing one of the car-maker’s vehicles is still a relevant milestone.

The Interview: Dr Tara Swart on the link between neuroscience and luxury

Dr Tara Swart is leadership coach and neuroscientist-in-residence at the Corinthia Hotel London, where she uses her scientific expertise to create brain power packages for the hotel’s clientele. Speaking at our Luxury Futures Forum 2017, Swart explained how high-end hospitality brands can start tailoring their offer to enhance their clientele’s neurological state.

‘The Corinthia was already offering really good sleep-inducing and mindful massages, but I have backed up the spa treatments with more science,’ she explained. ‘If you stay overnight, you get cashmere bed socks, blackout curtains, two pages of tips on how to tackle jet lag, and a drink delivered to your room at bedtime made from nut milk, which is full of magnesium, manuka honey for immunity, and turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties.’

Swart believes that increased understanding of the science around neuroplasticity, combined with consumers’ increasing life expectancy, means that demand for services that boost brain power will only grow.

Download the Future Forecast PDF

Now that you know what the luxury industry has been up to in 2017, find out where it is going in the next year. Download our Future Forecast 2018 report here.