Global Luxury Summit II
FAME, MYSTER, SCARCITY: PREMIUM BRANDS AND THE EVOLUTION OF LUXURY CONSUMER DESIRE
Last Thursday, February 25, GRLA and the McDonough Business School had the pleasure of hosting the 2nd annual Global Luxury Summit featuring Mark Del Rosso, COO of Audi America, and Ajaz Ahmed, CEO of AKQA. The event kicked off with a display of the newest Audi R8 outside the business school building, a sight that inspired many students, myself included, to one day own and drive such a vehicle. However, the show outside was not the only source of inspiration as what occurred inside was an influential conversation on “desire” from moderator and MBA professor, Ricardo Ernst, and both featured guests, who approached the concept from differing perspectives.
Mr. Del Rosso educated the audience on the corporate aspect of creating desire, citing the growth of Audi from an “alternate” luxury car brand to its current “progressive” luxury status. Jokingly, Del Rosso described Audi’s market position ten years ago as, “That other car brand you bought after visiting BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes.” He then went on to explain how Audi was able to create a desire for its cars and establish its brand by differentiating the more detailed aspects of cars such as the trunk and headlights from other luxury brands such as BMW or Mercedes. Audi focused its marketing efforts on making the experience of driving an Audi seem new, fresh, and exciting. To exhibit these developments, Del Rosso proudly showed the audience Audi’s latest Super Bowl commercial featuring a retired astronaut given new life after driving his son’s 2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus. He then explained how using the largest stages possible was key to creating consumer desire, noting events such as the Super Bowl, award shows, and major billboards as great places to advertise.
Taking a different approach, Ajaz Ahmed narrowed the concept of desire down to qualitative components, but mainly the idea of “scarcity.” Ahmed explained how scarcity did not necessarily have to mean scarcity in terms of the availability of a product, but also scarcity in terms of the thought and ideas behind a product. Employing Apple as an example, he demonstrated how products such as the iPad or iPhone were not hard to obtain, but rather hard to create and develop successfully. This scarcity in thought was not limited to technological products, but also in apparel and footwear, as Ahmed cited the OVO Jordan 10 as an example of a more tangible, not technological product that created desire as well. It is the rare talent and passion that luxury companies such as Apple and Jordan are able to channel that leads to products that are highly desired by the rest of us.
Intrigued by the concept of rare talent and passion, I asked Mr. Ahmed about what creates or generates this talent or passion in certain people. Smiling, he responded, “It’s hard to explain but certain people just have that it factor. You’ll know if you have it or not.”
Whether or not we have that “it” factor required to create desire within others, the 2nd annual Global Luxury Summit was a thought-provoking event that allowed those in attendance to learn and be inspired by two influential creators in Mark Del Rosso and Ajaz Ahmed.