If I were to name the top three words and expressions in luxury travel for 2014 number one would be authentic, followed by experiences and sense of place. What really constitutes “authentic”? “Quenching Consumers” Thirst for ‘Authentic’ Brands”, an article in the New York Times got me thinking about it. Is “real” a synonym? Checking in the Merriam Webster dictionary gave some overlapping definitions.Both can mean “true”, “genuine”. But real – and that’s the reason connotation is so important – is not associated with luxury, it’s mostly about not being an imitation. Some of you will remember one of the most iconic tag lines in advertising – Coca Cola’s “it’s the real thing, it’s Coke”.
The word “authentic” in and of itself needs additional qualifiers to be powerful in luxury branding, and that was the gist of the article. Together with the qualifiers, they’re a powerful message. In the Journal of Business Research they cite three elements: heritage, sincerity and commitment to quality.
It’s not enough ,though, to just mention the words. Alone they can seem trite. The goal is to use them in the context of telling a story. A solid example of how this is done well and the sales results that can follow is Tito’s Handmade Vodka of Austin, Texas, The website tells the life story of Tito Beverdige, the founder, and his commitment to quality, while telling how quality is achieved, following a company tradition (“the vodka is made in small batches in an old fashioned pot still using a time honored method and is distilled 6 times”). In 2014 the company sold 1.3 million cases of vodka compared with 365,000 in 2010. Story telling also establishes an emotional connection with the customer which works toward building loyalty in the long term.
Rest assured the top three words of 2014 will be in the top ten in 2015.