Q & O with Bob Shullman

I sat down with renowned market researcher, strategy consultant and CEO of The Shullman Research Center, Bob Shullman to have a Q & O about emerging trends amongst luxury consumers in 2017 and the elements that influenced them.​

Orit: There is a stark contrast in how Baby Boomers, Gen-X and Millennials view luxury and which luxury brands they covet. What in your opinion have been the most influential factors in this difference? Bob: Well to me there are a few elements that have really impacted how the different generations are looking at the topic of luxury. One is clearly unlimited access to information through the web. The other issue is when these generations first started to experience the web. Some folks grew up on paper and pencil. Gen-Xers got computers when they were in their early teens, and then the Millennials were basically born into the era of the web. I believe when you started experiencing digital, and how comfortable you are with the digital way of life, impacts how you think about luxury. The other thing that has had an influence is the 2008 economic plunge. Millennials are starting with rocks around their necks and that is going to determine how they see luxury and how they purchase it. The economic circumstances faced by Millennials will be something that affects the luxury industry for a very long time. Orit: Post Demographic Luxury is a new buzzword making the rounds. What does this term mean to you? Bob: With the digital world you can now tag people behaviorally, and we are now past the point of using traditional luxury demographic tools because those details no longer give a good indication of how the luxury consumer behaves. In the world of advertising research, when we chat about what the marketing databases are going to look like in a year from now, what they are going to contain and what the ability of marketers to reach certain people in certain ways is beyond most people’s comprehension. Demographics worked when that was the only way you could deal with it. Demographics are very yesterday, especially in the luxury category going forward because of how the luxury category retains loyalty needs to change. Orit: Vast improvements in technology have lead to an increase in on-demand services. Is On-Demand part of new luxury and is instant gratification what makes a service luxurious going forward? Bob: From the work I’ve done I can see that on-demand is only one aspect of new luxury; there are so many other aspects of it. However, the web has definitely changed where and how quickly one can get their goods or services, and this does have a significant influence on how a brand is perceived. What will be crucial to luxury brands standing out with ‘on-demand’ is exactly how luxurious and curated they can make that on-demand experience. Orit: Let’s discuss the prevalence of another buzzword: The “Global Citizen’. What drives the global citizen? And what has changed that allowed the global citizen to exist? Bob: Well to me, from an American-centric point of view, the global citizen realizes that there is a world far beyond them with other cultures, other concerns, wishes and needs. The digital world and communication of news, which is now on-demand, has to lead to a hyper-awareness of the world they inhabit. They seem to be driven by trends, and social media in particular has really connected them to other parts of the world and allowed them to genuinely engage with other parts of the world. Another strong factor for the emergence of the global citizen is how inexpensive travel has become. In other words, the web has allowed for the young luxury consumer to participate and voyeur and to then be onsite through curated experience that you can coordinate digitally. The Global citizen to me is a luxury consumer who knows that luxury exists beyond the traditional realm and leans more toward exploring the world for luxury brands because there no borders and boundaries online. Orit: What does Rethink Luxury mean to you? Bob: You can’t predict the future but you can certainly anticipate it, and to me Rethink Luxury means using what you know now about luxury and other external factors to anticipate the evolution of luxury marketing.​