The popularity of Royal-Class airport lounges and invitation-only Centurion credit cards are just two examples of modern man's immense need for respect and privilege. The more access consumers have to outstanding quality goods and services (the DVD player in your living room probably doesn’t differ too much from the one Queen Elizabeth’s grandchildren use to watch ‘Lord of the Rings’), the more they want exclusivity and status of a different order. The kind that visibly sets you apart from the masses and gives you access to privileges most others won’t get.
This 'exclusivity for the masses’, or MASSCLUSIVITY,
can be an instant add-on and revenue booster for many services in the public domain.
MASSCLUSIVITY is NOT about exclusively
opening up Harrods or Macy’s late Sunday night for a Hollywood super-celeb
looking for a last-minute party dress, but rather about setting up special in-store
coffee lounges or luxurious fitting rooms for members only. Respect and privilege
are scarce nowadays. Reason enough to add them to your offerings. >>
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First published OCTOBER 2003 | You may have noticed that TRENDWATCHING.COM loves to report on convenient, no-frills services for modern consumers, from easyJet to H&M. If you're passionate about trends and marketing, you may even be tracking and applying our MASS CLASS trend within your own business. But as every trend spawns an anti-trend, don't forget about MASSCLUSIVITY!
To refresh your memory: the more access consumers have to quality, MASS CLASS goods and services (the DVD player in your living room probably doesn't differ too much from the one Madonna's children use to watch Lilo and Stitch), the more they want exclusivity and status of a different order. The kind that visibly sets you apart from the masses and gives you access to privileges most others won't get.
Consumers yearning for a return to the good old days of luxury and exclusivity for commodities like transport or fashion, will be pleased to learn about the following MASSCLUSIVITY ideas:
• Singapore Airlines (SIA) is planning to offer a first and business-class only flight to the United States early next year (source: Reuters). A first for Asia, SIA will be the second major airline in the world to go all-business class: about a year ago, Swiss PrivatAir started 'no coach' flights between Dusseldorf and Newark, on behalf of Lufthansa. After a successful launch, PrivatAir is now ready to add two more daily flights between Germany and the US. A nice air-borne extension of the business lounge!
• Addicted to MASSCLUSIVITY but don't feel like flying? Get on the bus. Boston's new LimoLiner is by no means the world's first four-wheel version of the aforementioned PrivatAir service, but it's certainly the first of its kind that understands the needs of the ONLINE OXYGEN generation of business men and women. Offering four round trips a day between Boston and New York (a one-way journey takes four hours), each of the three LimoLiner buses have room for 28 passengers who get to enjoy roomy, leather seats with 41 inches of leg room; sandwiches and coffee; and a 10-seat conference center. So far, so good.
But here's the really sweet deal: the LimoLiner comes complete with power outlets, a WiFi network and Ethernet connections. Elbow room, electricity and non-stop net access: try that on one of the many planes and trains that shuttle between New York and Boston. Could LimoLiner come to Amsterdam, London, Paris and Berlin, please?
• More innovation, Sony-style: after launching in Japan in June of this year, Sony has now introduced its exclusive consumer electronics QUALIA brand in the US. In Sony's own words: "derived from the Latin 'qualia' which means quality, this is a Sony global movement aiming to touch people's hearts and to evoke strong emotional value with products and services that go beyond the boundaries of manufacturing and design excellence."
In TRENDWATCHING.COM's own words: a smart move by Sony, a high-end MASS CLASS brand if there ever was one, as Qualia will allow the company to make money from extremely affluent consumers, further increase its perceived quality image to regular customers, and drive innovation for features and products that can later be used in Sony's other product lines. A bit like Mercedes Benz introducing the 'if you have to ask, you can't afford it' Maybach limousine.
Sony has 17 Qualia products in the pipeline; each product will be designated only by number, starting with the Qualia 015, a 36-inch color monitor that will sell for 1.3 million yen (about USD 11,000), and the compact Qualia 016, a 2.11 megapixel camera that will sell for 380,000 yen (about USD 3,200). Very classy!
• We highlighted Puma's limited edition 'MINI Cooper' motorsport shoes in last month's edition, and the more-limited-than-thou trend sure ain't over: this time, Puma and Boston based Karmaloop.com have teamed up to bring MASSCLUSIVITY fans a limited addition shoe called the 'Freedom Trail', inspired by, yes, Boston's freedom trail. Only 250 pairs will see the light of day, and of course they'll be numbered. The shoe is a black and red trail shoe with the word Boston on the back. (Source: Trendcentral.com.) Nice to wear when boarding the Boston-bound LimoLiner ;-) Time to study the inner-workings of limited edition marketing (yes, it will work for more than sneakers, but learn from the experts first): visit the Tokyo-based Chapter One store, where a pair of mint-condition Jordan I's will sell for USD 8,000, or check out New York sneaker boutiques Prohibit and 99X. It will have to be a real-world visit though: they're not too forthcoming with their URLs, but we guess that adds to the exclusivity of the whole thing.
If you're in B2C, offering quality is now hygiene. Which means that after working hard to bring your products and services up to par with the new leaders in MASS CLASS, you will have work even harder to satisfy consumers' other demands: an almost existential need for respect, for privilege, for GRAVANITY.
So roll out those limited editions, cordon-off as many areas as possible, go niche wherever you see fit. Margins will be high, and brand perception won't diminish either. >> Email this trend to a friend.
RELATED TRENDS AND NEW BUSINESS IDEAS
1. MASS CLASS
NOVEMBER 2003 | Consumers want to feel special; they crave executive lounges, cordoned off areas, and limited editions goods. Over the last months, we've reported on MASSCLUSIVITY goodies and services like the LimoLiner, Maybach and Sony's Qualia; now, what about MASSCLUSIVITY and the Big Screen? Two interesting spottings:
• TV and movie obsessed consumers want to own the biggest and brightest when it comes to home entertainment centers, but how is one to seriously outdo the MASS CLASS if even a Sony 57" HDTV TV monitor is to be had for as little as USD 2,299.99? To the rescue comes Harvey, the specialist in home theater set-ups, touting MASSCLUSIVITY ensembles like the Runco Front Projector (a steal at USD 44,995) and a Stewart 66" x 118" HDTV format screen. Which makes for a decidely non-standard entertainment experience.
As we pointed out in a previous report on CRIBTIMONIALS, look for these home theaters to invade celebrity mansions first, then slowly appear in 'regular' consumers' dwellings.
• VIP tix: for Harvey customers who still venture out into real world to catch a movie at their local MASS CLASS cinema, there is new hope: Loews' 34th Street Megaplex in New York now offers reserved VIP seats in the best middle rows at a MASSCLUSIVITY price of USD 15. Not only do these seats offer the best views in the house, they're reportedly also 3 inches wider and more plush than normal seats (source: Newsday.com). An usher escorts VIP ticket holders to their numbered seats. Hey, if it works for plays and concerts, why not for movies?
• P.S. Need a VIP coffee before or after your VIP movie, and feel that a Grande Frappe has become just a little too, well, MASS CLASS? As expected, new upscale coffee houses are now eyeing a demanding class of coffee drinkers, educated by the likes of Starbucks and Costa Coffee, to provide them with the next phase in lattes and macchiatos. Point in case: soon-to-be-opened London-based 'The Wolseley' (no website yet, but their street address is 160 Piccadilly) will, according to Wallpaper Magazine, serve connaisseur-coffee variations in Grand Viennese style. Yes, even pricey 4 dollar Vendi Latte can be upgraded to cater to consumers' appetite for MASSCLUSIVITY. Our advise? Keep considering which part of your services and goods can be upgraded! >> Email this trend to a friend.
RELATED TRENDS AND NEW BUSINESS IDEAS
1. MASS CLASS
MARCH 2004 | Consumers love their loyalty cards, frequent flyer perks and restricted access VIP lounges. Now what about the ultimate in MASSCLUSIVITY: becoming a privileged member of the country of Thailand (mind you, not citizen, but member!), including your own Thai Elite Card?
A world's first, membership earns card holders benefits and discounts all over the kingdom, ranging from fast-track immigration at Don Muang Airport, heavy discounts on Thai Airways (buy one, get one free), special rates at five-star hotels, free golf at several courses, free limousine transfers, 24-hour concierge service, free spa treatments and medical check-ups, and five-year multiple entry visas that allow the cardholder to stay in Thailand for 90 days.
And it gets even better: next year (2005) will see hotels like the Thailand Elite Boutique Hotel, golf clubs, and entertainment centers that would be exclusive only to card holders. Perhaps most intriguingly, members can also 'purchase' second homes in Thailand. As foreigners aren't allowed to own land in Thailand, purchases would be in the name of Thailand Privilege Co., the entity that runs the Thailand Elite program on behalf of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The state tourist body, which is overseeing the promotion, hopes to sign up at least 10,000 wealthy visitors to the program by the end of next year. Thailand's president, Thaksin Shinawatra, has predicted that 200,000 members could eventually join. That's a lot of newly minted Thai ambassadors!
On a lighter note, we spotted what must be one of the smallest business lounges on earth: the Private Air lounge at the Crown Point Airport on the island of Tobago (Southern Caribbean), which is about 15 sqm but does have its own hostess. MASSCLUSIVITY truly IS a global phenomenon these days!
Maybe you're in government. Or in tourism. Or in loyalty management. Or in anything that could do with a healthy dose of privilege for customers floating in the ever expanding 'sea of sameness'. This Thai initiative may inspire you to re-assess your assets and determine which could carry a premium by making them available to members only. >> Email this trend to a friend.
DECEMBER 2004 | In 2003, we coined MASSCLUSIVITY. Ever since, we've continued to study the fast changing world of luxury, spotting loads of MASSCLUSIVITY and UBER PREMIUM manifestations (the latter phrase was coined by Tyler Brule to describe truly exclusive and totally premium goods and services for a worldwide elite besieged by MASSCLUSIVITY creep). We incorporated Alain de Botton's STATUS ANXIETY; which explains consumers' never-ending quest for status and standing out amidst a SEA OF SAMENESS and MASS CLASS standards. And we certainly learned from Boston Consulting Group who pointed out that TRADING UP is now such a mass-phenomenon that it is actually leading to TRADING DOWN: consumer spending is polarizing across a number of industries, with consumers consciously (and, may we point out, without any embarrassment) shopping for bargains -- Costco! Target! -- in order to be able to buy status-confirming Coach bags and Aveda toiletries a week later.
In fact, as the luxury market is now the most prominent provider of status, in a world dictated by experienced, mature consumers demanding the best of the best, every marketer needs to religiously track what's doing in the world of the Pradas, the Lufthansas, the Jumeirahs, the Maybachs, the Bulgari Hotels and so on. After all, "one generation's indulgence becomes the next generation's necessity" (James Twitchell). And while we definitely see signs that creativity is slowly but certainly becoming an alternative source for gaining status, (please re-read our GENERATION C trend, which we'll update in our January 2005 issue), we don't expect the luxury phenomenon to run out of steam in 2005. Au contraire. The biggest new markets for MASSCLUSIVITY and UBER PREMIUM are the boom regions of Coastal China and Urban India (increased global prosperity, anyone?), where flaunting luxury brands is and will be de rigueur for years to come.
Consider Shanghai's 'Dior Cosmetic', which was designated as the most luxurious Dior boutique, and made China the third country (after France and Japan) to get one. In China, the annual sales of Dior are now increasing by 40 percent to 50 percent. Near Shanghai's Dior boutique, you'll find Louis Vuitton, Armani, and Cartier, all going the after the country's estimated 160 million luxury consumers. In fact, Armani plans to open 20-30 new stores on the mainland by 2008, Prada will invest USD 40 million in China in the next two years (doubling the number of stores there this year to 15), and Louis Vuitton plans to have 13 Chinese mainland stores early 2005. That's just the beginning: the number of Chinese consumers with an annual income above 240,000 yuan (about USD 30,000) is expected to reach 250 million in 2010. (Source: ChinaView.)
Meanwhile, in Europe and North America, a shift towards luxury experiences continues to build up. According to a recent American Express Platinum Luxury survey, 59% of affluent Americans (those with incomes of USD 100,000 or higher) would rather spend on experiential luxuries—restaurants, travel and entertainment—than on gadgets and goods. The Experience Economy is alive and kicking, and here too, purveyors of luxury provide people like yourselves with an endless source of inspiration, whether you're in FMCG or financial services.
So, here's a new list of global MASSCLUSIVITY and UBER PREMIUM spottings that should help you dream up goods and services attractive enough to satisfy even the most demanding MASTERS OF THE YOUNIVERSE ;-)
HOT: Business Class-Only airlines, terminals and more
Some lessons from the world of travel: as JetBlue delivers leather seats at SouthWest fares, airports in Asia and Europe have become 'Airport Cities' offering luxury shopping and great dining, and well designed waiting areas for the MASS CLASS now out-style traditional business lounges, how can you help premium passengers still stand out? Sure, flatbeds and on-board a la carte dining are proliferating, but how about making the entire experience truly exclusive?
Take a cue from Germany's Lufthansa, who have just unveiled the world's first dedicated luxury class air terminal in Frankfurt. No crowds, no queuing and no jostling, just personal assistants, valet parking, individual offices, and well-designed rest rooms, dining and cigar rooms. Best of all (and worth the USD 10,000 first class ticket tag alone), passengers will be chauffeur driven to the aircraft in a Mercedes S-Class or Porsche Cayenne. The 1,800 square meter (19,000 square feet) terminal will handle 350 passengers a day, including members of Lufthansa's new, beyond-frequent-flyer 'Hon' program (for which only 2% of its current top customers qualify). A second MASSCLUSIVITY terminal in Munich is in the works for 2005 (sources: FT, TravelBiz).
It fits well with another development we highlighted in a previous update, but now really seems ready for take-off (forgive the pun): the emergence of all-business-class flights. Here as well, Lufthansa is one of the pioneers, flying from Munich and Dusseldorf to Chicago and Newark, using PrivatAir planes configured to seat only 48, all business class, passengers.
Also making use of PrivatAir is Swiss International, who will introduce a similar business-class only flight between Zurich and New York (Newark) in January 2005. There will be 56 seats and six weekly flights. Competition may come from new PremiumAir, who plans to start all-business class flights in Spring 2005 between Geneva and Newark. Meanwhile, and perhaps eyeing the PrivatAir market, NetJets Europe has placed a USD 160 million order for 25 Raytheon Hawker planes. Deliveries starting in 2007, the planes will be available only to share and lease clients.
Not to be outdone, Singapore Airlines has skipped 'regular' economy and only offers business class and 'premium economy class' on its direct Singapore-New York and LA routes. The number of seats has been brought down from 313 to 181. Last but not least, Italy's Eurofly will launch all-business flights between Milan and New York in June 2005. Aiming to offer the service six days a week, the cabin configuration includes fully electric and lie-flat, 58-inch pitch seats, equipped for services such as video on demand, computer connectivity and inflight e-mail/SMS capability.
Expect similar initiatives in a host of B2C industries: consumers will increasingly crave to be separated from the masses, and as long as they are willing to open their wallets, you're in! ;-)
Apple may have a black and red iPod U2 Special Edition on offer, but Crystalmini brings consumers real MASSCLUSIVITY with more than a touch of Bling: the company sells iPod minis in the color of your choice, adorned with 'One Crystal per song to represent every song you love'. In true BRANDED BRANDS fashion, the crystals are from Swarovski. Orders currently take 3-4 weeks to fulfill, due to heavy demand, which of course adds to the whole MASSCLUSIVITY spiel. Anything you can adorn and thus make more special?
As social networking sites Friendster.com and Linkedin.com are now distinctively MASS CLASS, the next step in linking up with a select number of MASTERS OF THE YOUNIVERSE is aSmallWorld, an invitation-only online community which is not open to the public. It allows its 22,000 members to interact more effectively with 'like minded' individuals who share similar friends, interests, and schedule. Think most exclusive restaurants, hotels, and night clubs in over 60 major cities, summer and winter resorts and keeping track of major events, parties, exhibitions, film and music festivals and sporting events such as motor racing, tennis, sailing, golf, and others. Next step: anextremelysmallworld.com? Don't forget: the fewer the members, the higher the margins!
Spotted in Dubai, UAE: not only is the Mina A' Salam the world's first Grand Boutique hotel, it also offers MASSCLUSIVITY within MASSCLUSIVITY by offering a Premium Leisure Club floor for its non-business guests. Most business travelers now enjoy dedicated business floors, but this is a family oriented concept with an exclusive check in and reception, a dedicated lounge area (with all day beverages, afternoon tea, pre-dinner canapés etc.) and spacious outdoor seating for the sole use of Premium Leisure Club guests. For children, a purpose built playroom and computer room are provided for their entertainment. The Club provides a personalized service through its specially trained team. It's yet another interesting take on how extend existing MASSCLUSIVITY concepts and assets for business consumers to the leisure crowd.
One more reason to look at UBER PREMIUM goods and services: even though a whole new industry is emerging that is so over the top that in theory the services on offer are out of reach to virtually anyone except the most chosen few, our favorite professor of advertising, James Twitchell, has already pointed out that selling UBER PREMIUM products and services in smaller doses, increments or units of time WILL create yet another interesting MASSCLUSIVITY market within reach of mere mortals. Point in case: average consumers may not be able to buy a shiny Mercedes Benz convertible, but they can afford a SIXT rental Benz cabriolet for only EUR 119 a day (USD 158)!
Or how about Godiva's USD 100-a-pound, ultra premium G Collection chocolates, which come complete with a USD 350 keepsake gift box. Most consumers will not be able to afford kilos of the stuff, but they may buy one G chocolate at a time. As even the most premium of premium becomes affordable when presented in bite-size servings, you have yet another reason to keep a close eye on what delights the NON-CYCLICAL RICH these days.
Had it with luxury? Feel TRENDWATCHING.COM is turning into a mouthpiece of the rich and famous? Think again. We're not suggesting you launch your own First-Class-Only airline, or start selling chocolates covered in liquid Peruvian gold, but we do hope that the pieces of the STATUS puzzle are falling into place with the above examples, the MASTER OF THE YOUNIVERSE concept, and everything else we've published and presented this year: it's about constantly learning from the companies who understand what truly drives consumers, and about finding out which tangible and increasingly intangible benefits deliver the highest satisfaction and thus highest margins. >> Email this trend to a friend.