A week ago I attended a dinner in one of the good Japanese restaurants in Dubai and while enjoying the selection of Maki rolls a friend started a discussion over the Millenials’ shopping habits.
This friend of mine attended a business conference about the luxury retail during which, one of the debates was about how we, the Millenials, spend our money, what do we buy, how do we choose what to purchase and the way we purchase. My friend who is in her late 20s, well-educated, well-traveled and a successful businesswoman was surprised that everyone at the conference was discussing one aspect of our shopping habit – the price point. That’s wrong. We don’t look at price tags when we go to Dubai Mall.
Maybe there are people in their late 20s or 30s making their choices based on the price and the value of the products that they are about the buy, but when becomes to fashion and luxury the game rules are a bit different. Because most of us shop for experiences, not for clothes.
Funny, but during that dinner, we were talking about our future travels – Cannes, Thailand, Los Angeles. And most of the time we were talking not about the places we want to visit and see and the experiences we want to have, we were talking about the items we want to own and wear at a particular restaurant or by the pool. Because you need the right Pucci kaftan and the Hermes slippers for this picture you are planning to take in Cannes.
Millenials shop for experiences and memories in an entirely different way than the generation before. My parents, for example, were traveling in a very casual manner – buy the tickets, book the hotel, take some cash and just go. Now, the game is different – we plan everything in advance – from the room’s view to what we are going to wear for this natural and very casual picture we want to post on Instagram. Everything has to be staged because the most important is how you will see yourself and how others will see you.
We are dreamers. We want to have glamorous stories to tell but we are so obsessed to get everything right, so we have to plan every single detail of our experiences in advance. From what to wear, where to dine, what exactly to order, who to accompany us. We are so obsessed with the idea of glamor, beauty, and success that we have to recreate the moment we’ve seen in the movies, in the magazines we read, in the coffee table books we collect.
Recently I found a book with the work of Slim Aarons and I was fascinated by the realism in his photography. In the era of social media and Instagram, we live our lives online. And the value of the experience is based on a number of likes we get of each picture posted. Millenials want to achieve what they see in the Aarons’ work – glamor and wealth. And if you are not born in a palace you have to create this moment yourself. Fake it till you make it.
We are so obsessed with the idea of success that we have to make ourselves look successful even if we are not. And since the easiest way to communicate nowadays is trough social media – Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook we like to capture our success in pictures. We like to show everything and show it to everyone – how do we live, where do we go, how do we travel, who do we hang out with, what do we wear. We make our lives so public that we have to be sure we look good, and other people will see us in the right way. From the clothes, we wear to the breakfast we have. Everything has to be picture perfect. And that is how the young people spend their money when becomes to a luxury good. Back in the time, you were buying high fashion products only if you were able to afford them and to live your life the way we show it in pictures today. People who used to wear Valentino didn’t consider it as a luxury. It was something that they grew up with, and it was part of their lives since they were born. If Valentino existed at the time they were born. Now a lot of young people call this items “luxury.” A term that shows you find a product unique and something not ordinary to your life.
Have you seen all the videos on YouTube when a twenty-two years old girl unpack her latest purchases? This fashion enthusiast makes us part of her life showing us the latest “luxuries” she bought. And all these luxury items are ready for a picture perfect moments that will be shared on Instagram and Facebook. The idea behind purchasing a product is how it will look on a picture, how it will make you look and how other people will react to what they see. The true cost is not the value of the product. The true cost is the perception of others of you.
The young people in their late 20s and mid-30s are the spending force in the luxury retail. These are the people who buy every new sneaker Gucci release on the market; they are the ones who change their bags every three months, they are the one who is buying the Cartier’s jewelry. Because this group of people wants to recreate a lifestyle they’ve seen in books and movies. And they want to post a picture of it.
At the end of the day, it’s important what story you tell yourself and how other people see you. As Diana Vreeland sais “We live in a superficial world, in an artificial city, why does it need to be real? It’s boring”.