Golden doughnut 600x599 - Living the high life

With our 2016 Global Consumer Trends workshops fast approaching, we explore two different sides of the ‘Upgrade’ trend

There was a time where luxury could be enjoyed by only select group of ultra-affluent consumers, but those days are a progressively distant memory.

In fashion, the seemingly oxymoronic concept of ‘affordable luxury’ isn’t a new one, with brands having faced for many years the difficult conundrum of making their products more accessible (and thus a more lucrative source of profit), whilst also retaining brand equity and exclusivity.

While the phenomenon has resulted in great successes for some brands, and tough losses for others, the very idea of ‘affordable luxury’ shows that having nice things is no longer the preserve of the elite.

This idea of the accessibility of quality is one key part to the Upgrade trend. Consumers are looking to take the money they spend in their everyday lives much further than it would have been possible to until recently. The Aldi and Lidl phenomenon have played a large part in developing consumers’ taste for the premium as they continue to expand across different continents, and this year Aldi has continued to tempt those with an eye for Upgrade with a range of caviar skincare products.

Yet whilst the concept of affordable luxury is one part of Upgrade, another part involves a complete reversal of this concept: the creation of exclusive, high-ticket variations of traditionally mundane or everyday products.

A doughnut is probably the last thing that comes to mind whn one thinks of fine dining, but this extravagant $100 specimen is an example of this trend towards the upgrading of the everyday. It’s existence is driven by the same fundamental factors as the symbolic Aldi lobster tail: a desire for improved quality; a better product; a more valuable experience; and crucially, an opportunity to enhance self-worth.

And this is what Upgrade is all about – whether you have a lot of money to spend, or just a little, it is always nicer to buy better, and importantly, to buy quality, and businesses are increasingly responding to this desire.

To find out more about Upgrade and nine other consumer trends or book your place one of our Global Consumer Trends workshops, or take a look at our Global Consumer Trends 2016 Report.

Author: Chris Giles