The definition of luxury has evolved throughout history. Early luxury objects were once marked by opulence and extravagance. Today with predictive technology and the emergence of an on-demand economy, discerning consumers now expect more from brands.
You don’t need to make big money to experience what has long been considered luxurious. It’s easier and often cheaper to borrow the stunning apartment of a stranger than it is to stay at an upscale hotel. And with the on-demand sharing economy, a new wardrobe can be delivered or a personal chef can be hired, with just a click. As a result many people can experience luxury simply by owning a smartphone.
That means our definition of luxury is changing. Some take pride in finding luxury goods and sharing exclusive tips with friends or followers. For others, luxury means ensuring the goods they consume are sustainable and ethical—88% of both millennials and Gen Xers think brands need to do more good, and most say they would rather spend money on experiences. The concept of luxury has evolved from ownership to experience: convenience, choice, value, and the ability to share with others.
Still, so much of luxury is subjective. What’s luxurious for one person may be commonplace for the next. But interwoven throughout our subjective ideas is a common desire to share and broadcast one’s personal experiences. As a result, companies have wised up, realising that attitudes towards luxury are shifting. It’s forcing them to rethink how they develop and market their products so that luxury as a service fits seamlessly into customers’ lives.
For instance, Tiffany & Co. became one of the first luxury brands to launch a facial recognition lens as part of a digital campaign, which helped to create a 24/7 interactive luxury experience for consumers regardless of whether or not they are customers. The company also continuously updates its engagement ring finder app, allowing users to virtually try on rings and share the images with friends and family. These carefully considered initiatives are part of a broader effort to provide luxury beyond pure product consumption.
Porsche is another company that has long-symbolised luxury—ever since the introduction of the first 911 high-performance sports car in 1963. Nonetheless, Porsche has evolved as well. The 2017 Panamera is a perfect example of this new definition of luxury.
The Panamera is outfitted in a way that makes the driving experience as frictionless as possible. The Porsche Connect system delivers information to the driver by seamlessly integrating with the rest of their luxury lifestyle. Whether it be Google-powered geo-specific recommendations, up-to-date flight information, or the latest navigation maps, Porsche Connect can deliver it to the driver. The automatic syncing of vehicle information with the driver’s smartphone, means the status of your car is always at your fingertips. Drivers and passengers can also use advanced voice control to fire off tweets or choose a destination without touching their device or taking their eyes off of the road.
Increasingly, says Paul Kearns, Porsche Connect Manager for Porsche Cars Great Britain, Porsche owners enthusiastically share their love of the car—and the technology in it—with the people they meet at parties or at events organised by Porsche. “The Porsche Connect system starts giving you the backbone to be able to give a luxurious experience,” says Kearns.
Luxury is no longer simply about spending money on beautiful things. Instead an experience can now define luxury and the Panamera is the ultimate representation of luxury’s redefinition. It’s a beautiful object that people love talking about that has evolved to meet the new demands of the high-end consumer by offering customised and meaningful personal experiences. As habits and preferences continue to evolve, luxury will be defined by shrewd companies adapting to a range of sophisticated expectations.
Read more about the technology behind the all-new Panamera.
This article was produced on behalf of Porsche by Quartz creative services and not by the Quartz editorial staff.