The Top Five Luxury Marketing Books Of All Time

This is your bible: we have rounded up the five best marketing books of all time, that we personally believe should be in every business library (you’re welcome).

Some of these books are focused on the strategies and more data-driven tactics of marketing. Others include the timeless observations about human nature and group behavior, which form the basis for the art of marketing.

  1. The Luxury Strategy – by Jean-Noël Kapferer and Vincent Bastien









Consider this your bible. Written by two world experts on luxury branding, this book (now in its second edition) provides the most thorough blueprint for the effective management of luxury brands at the highest level. We at Havas Luxe reference it all the time. In fact, we referenced it tirelessly when penning our recent blockbuster blog post: Make Luxury Great Again (link to post).

By defining the differences between premium and luxury brands and products, analyzing the nature of true luxury brands and turning established marketing ‘rules’ upside down, The Luxury Strategy has established itself as the definitive work on the essence of a luxury brand strategy. It’s a must-read.

  1. Deluxe – How Luxury Lost its Luster – by Dana Thomas









We have obsessed over this book for years – and it is perhaps even more relevant today, ten years after it saw light for the first time. This is a hard-hitting behind-the-scenes look at the luxury fashion industry that dares to ask the question: Is luxury still the best that money can buy?

There was a time when luxury was available only to the rarefied and aristocratic world of old money and royalty. Luxury wasn’t simply a product, it was a lifestyle, one that denoted a history of tradition, superior quality and offered a pampered buying experience. Today’s luxury marketplace would be virtually unrecognizable to its founders. Dana Thomas, a journalist who has covered style and the luxury business for The Washington Post, Newsweek and The New York Times Magazine from Paris for the past fifteen years, digs deep into the dark side of the luxury industry to uncover all the secrets that the maisons have avoided revealing. In so doing, she cuts to the core of what luxury, and luxury marketing, truly entail.

  1. Small is the New Big – by Seth Godin









If you are not already subscribed to Seth Godin’s newsletter, do it right now. He’s as major as marketing gurus come, and as one of today’s most influential business thinkers, Seth Godin helps his army of fans stay focused, stay connected, and stay dissatisfied with the status quo. His books, blog posts, magazine articles, and speeches have inspired countless entrepreneurs, marketing people, innovators, and managers around the world. We could easily recommend all his books, but of them – this one in particular applies to Luxury Marketing, particularly because of the focus on “smallness” – a tailored, customizable, personal approach. You’ll enjoy all his other riffs, too.

  1. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds – by Charles Mackay









Ultimately, marketing means understanding groups of people and how they think. While technology has changed over the decades, people haven’t, so it shouldn’t be all THAT surprising that in 1841, Charles Mackay captured the essence of group-think (see also “1984”, by George Orwell).  Read this, and you’ll never be surprised by events like the Great Recession or the popularity of the Kardashians (yes, we have once again referenced the Kardashians in a post).

Best quote: “We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first.”

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People – by Dale Carnegie









The most successful leaders all have one thing in common: They’ve read How to Win Friends and Influence People. As a salesman at one point in his life, author Dale Carnegie made his sales territory the national leader for the firm he worked for. Carnegie eventually ended his sales career and taught public speaking, earning up to $500 every week — the equivalent of $11,800 today. Even Warren Buffet, one of the most successful investors of the 20th century, took Carnegie’s course at age 20.

Simply put, this is a must read for any marketer who wants to succeed not only in marketing and sales, but also in life.

Extra Credit – Email or comment below your own book selection by February 17th!  The most interesting book suggestion will receive all five of the books mentioned in the post.


Continue Reading



Havas Luxe’s top 10 pointers to regain luxury’s luster

Admit it. Luxury sure isn’t what it used to be. We blame the Kardashians.

How did this happen? Well, the truth is – it has been a process, and this has been going on for a long time. Let’s flash back for a second to 2006 and 2007. Three major cultural moments come to mind:


  1. The Devil Wears Prada, the movie (based on Lauren Weisberger’s tell-all book about working at Vogue for Anna Wintour) – is released, starring Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt. It was epic, and though the ending is decidedly un-materialistic, back-to-basics and all about the return – from luxury- to love, the movie has since become a classic, in huge part due to the glitz and glam of all that high fashion.
  2. A year later, the book “DELUXE: How Luxury Lost it’s Luster” – by Dana Thomas, was released. It was a book that radically rippled through the industry. In it, Thomas — who had at the time been the cultural and fashion writer for Newsweek in Paris for 12 years – wrote a solid social memoir of fashion, which was as entertaining as it was poignant. It was a call to arms: a declaration of the demise of TRUE luxury. In a nutshell – Thomas showed what was happening to the luxury industry, calling out “the shift from small family businesses of beautifully handcrafted goods to global corporations selling to the middle market”.
  3. In October of that same year, 2007 – E! thrusts “Keeping up with the Kardashians” upon the world. Nothing is ever quite the same.

Turns out, Dana Thomas was totally right then, and she is completely right today. Her book – written a decade ago – was about how a business that once catered to the wealthy elite went mass-market. Mind you, this was written pre-influencers, pre Facebook, pre-Instagram. It could not be more relevant TODAY.

Although “Deluxe” quoted Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, saying such changes mean that “more people are going to get better fashion” and “the more people who can have fashion, the better,” back then, Thomas reached a more jaded conclusion. She wrote: “The luxury industry has changed the way people dress. It has realigned our economic class system. It has changed the way we interact with others. It has become part of our social fabric. To achieve this, it has sacrificed its integrity, undermined its products, tarnished its history and hoodwinked its consumers. In order to make luxury ‘accessible,’ tycoons have stripped away all that has made it special.”

“Luxury has lost its luster,” indeed. We quite agree. In fact, in recent months – both Luxury Daily and Luxury Society lamented in op-eds and reports that luxury brand advertising itself has gone “too corporate”, and “too mass”—in an attempt to hit ever-higher global sales goals in spite of a challenging market. What the articles referred to was the massification of the luxury message – using sports, influencers and cars to sell watches, jewelry, spirits and fashion. We can understand a house’s heritage in sailing, in equestrian sports, even in the occasional car race. But basketball? Scott Disick? Car-chase movies? What do any of these have to do with luxury?

This is our battle cry to change this. We believe it’s time for luxury to make a very serious statement, by stepping back into that which MAKES luxury brands LUXURIOUS. That’s right –we want to Make Luxury Great Again. It’s not too late for luxury brands to recover their elite status, but it will not be easy.

Here are our Top Five Tips for Making Luxury Great Again:

  1. Be OLD:

High-profile luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Cartier were founded in the 18th or 19th centuries by artisans dedicated to creating beautiful, finely made wares for the royal court in France.

It is impossible to replicate legacy, origin, and tradition. That, above all, is your story. Here’s where we also strongly endorse manufacturing at home. Asian consumers are not the only one who care about origin. We do, too.

  1. Be CRAFTY:

Traditionally, the notion of craftsmanship is associated with the luxury industry due to the image of quality and sophistication conveyed by that which is « made by hand ». In recent years though, this image has been overused and even diluted by many brands, to a point where there is now the need for a new vision of French luxury. More luxury companies have the means to pave the way and lead by example, starting with the relocation of their production, which is a crucial step in that direction.

To compensate for the additional costs of a non-outsourced, non-industrialized labor force, luxury brands need to increase the intangible value created by the multiple facets of fabrication – linked to a territory, the people who are part of it, their culture and heritage.

  1. Be ELITIST:

When the grand maisons were founded, they catered to European aristocrats and prominent American families. As a result, luxury remained – per Ms. Thomas: “a domain of the wealthy and the famous” until “the Youthquake of the 1960s” pulled down social barriers and overthrew elitism. It would remain out of style “until a new and financially powerful demographic — the unmarried female executive — emerged in the 1980s.”

We wish to reclaim the domain of the wealthy in the world of luxury. Otherwise, read our lips – it is not luxury. How do you do this? It’s simple. Pair the right messaging (see below) with HIGH PRICES.

Premium is NOT luxury, so first and foremost: reposition your brand. If a brand is truly luxury and wants to differentiate itself, it should target upper-class audiences across the board — those people who value the brand most and will pay a premium for it.

Luxury can be a tricky thing to define, and many consumers equate higher prices with more value. Post recession, by lowering prices, designer brands like Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren were able to keep sales strong. Since then, we have seen the consequences of this strategy. For example – in 2015, shares for Michael Kors dropped more than 50%. Above all, brand perception was diluted – perhaps irreparably.

  1. Be RARE:

We know this; the cult objects are the desired objects. Create the cult again. You do this by cultivating rarity – limited access, limited editions, exclusivity. This applies not only to product, but to retail, events, PR, and to social media.

Luxury brands that embraced social media are able to inform, engage, address criticism, answer questions, and so on. And they can still do so. The key is to maintain very strict voice guidelines – be authoritative, be formal, be LUXURY, and so on.

And here’s another key: social platforms have offered luxury brands a huge opportunity to define their images and aesthetics on their own terms, and to convey their personalities via….you guessed it, influencers. We are here to argue that luxury requires no stars. The celebrities wear and covet you, anyway. Let them be your UGC – they will! What’s our point? It’s this: Hermes does not need the endorsement of a Taylor Swift. It is HERMES.

  1. Be UNIQUE:

Luxury is not comparative. It’s time to be an individual again. Follow your own brand, your own vision, your own path. The competition does not matter.


Luxury – we want you back.

We believe that luxury elevates the soul. It is the stuff of dreams. It is the symbol of success.

With a solid strategy and an effort to understand and reconnect with their core audience, we know that luxury will rise again to its rightful place in all our hearts.


Continue Reading