Antonio Paraíso studied International Trade in London and Luxury Brand Management in Madrid. After a successful career in large companies, Antonio Paraíso started his own business in consulting, training executives, business school teaching and public speaking. Throughout the years Antonio Paraíso has developed expertise in luxury marketing, sales, innovation and international trade. We talked to him about his vast experience as a business speaker and brand consultant and learned what luxury brands can teach us about successful brand management in general.
Antonio Paraíso, thank you very much for being with us today! We’ll start at the beginning: Please tell our readers a bit about yourself as a person and about your business.
Thank you for inviting me for this conversation. Well, I am a marketing consultant specialized in luxury brand management, a guest professor in business schools and a public speaker in corporate events. I enjoy studying, reading, learning the latest trends in marketing, luxury, innovation, and the main purpose of my job – while consulting and teaching – is to inspire executives and students to achieve better results and incorporate beauty at whatever they do.
You focus on luxury and premium brands – how do they differ from other brands?
I work mainly with brands in high-end markets or companies wishing to trade up and reposition in upper segments.
While mass market brands address consumer needs and develop products that respond to the results of market surveys, luxury brands do not focus on needs, nor market adaptation to the market. They launch beautiful products arisen from the taste and creativity of the brand owner or team, with tons of intangibility, and therefore spark immense desire and emotion. Consumer brands approach clients. Luxury brands are approached by clients. The logic is very different. The rules of marketing – as we know them – normally do not apply to luxury environments.
Which trends do you currently see in the luxury segment? Do they differ between countries or cultures?
Luxury is a global phenomenon of consumption that addresses desires, not needs, of very specific audiences. It evolves naturally as society evolves, too. So, in that sense, trends in the luxury market are of global magnitude and normally do not differ much between countries or cultures.
I often say – and this is one of my quotes – that luxury is a state of mind and a way of life.
I see three big trends in the luxury market right now and they are somewhat related with each other.
Luxury brands, across all sectors and product categories are all very much committed to developing long-term sustainability policies and making impactful contributions to environment protection.
Another important trend is the rise in sales of second-hand luxury items.
According to Boston Consulting Group the second-hand luxury market will reach €36 Billion turnover this year and the demand for ‘pre-owned’ or as some call it ‘pre-loved’ luxury goods is expected to double in the next five years.
The last trend which is just starting to emerge at a very slow pace is deconsumption. In the future, it is expected that consumers of luxury goods will consume less quantity but better quality and will engage in better and more conscious consumption. French luxury brand Hermès in a recent video has launched the debate: “Luxury is that which can be repaired.”
Which challenges do you currently see for luxury brands in an increasingly digitized world?
Luxury has always been about exclusivity and difficult access. On the other hand, the internet is a very democratic environment, it is about easy access by anyone and it is about massification. This is why, in the beginning, luxury brands were skeptical about digitization and reluctant to adopt the digital tools.
However, in the last decade or so the world has become fully digitized and during this recent and sudden pandemic, luxury brands realized how important it is to be digital.
Now, the main challenge for all high-end brands in an increasingly digitized world is to keep the exclusivity and avoid the risk of massification, which is so important to retain value and be desired.
All luxury brands are now in the process of learning how to use digital without losing desirability.
Based on your experience – what can high-end brands teach us about brand management in general?
Luxury is about the subtle blend of perfect tangibility and seductive intangibility. In the luxury field, brands build their own aesthetical universe and beauty is a very important ingredient to spark desire.
High-end brands do also develop their own intangible ingredients, very much related to purpose, culture, symbology, storytelling, storygiving and storyliving to add value and generate emotion.
In my opinion, this is exactly what high-end brands teach us all about brand management. They teach us the importance of beauty and intangibility.
Some say that luxury and premium brands might even be the winners in the current crisis. Would you agree? Why or why not?
Well, yes and no. Not all luxury and premium brands are performing in the same way.
I would say that most high-end brands are winners in this pandemic and data is proving that as a fact. Even if many have dropped sales and suffered due to the compulsory lockdown, they all have the ability to quickly bounce back and surpass pre-pandemic levels.
Luxury and premium brands are creators of immense value and they know how to permanently exceed expectations and surprise their demanding audiences.
I’ll just mention a few examples:
The 1st quarter sales report of 2021 from Hermès shows a sales growth of 44% versus 2020 and 33% versus 2019 at constant exchange rates.
Prada reported sales in December 2020 similar to pre-pandemic levels.
Rolls Royce reported a 62% sales growth in the 1st quarter 2021, versus same period last year and surpassing its previous high in 2019.
Rolex reported to have increased market share from 22% in 2019 to 25% in 2020, which is impressive given the current crisis and drop in production due to compulsory factory shutdown.
And luxury brands are all winners also because they are learning fast how to elegantly embrace digital to improve performances.
Which one was your favorite brand as a child and which one is it today?
Well, let me see. I have always been a curious and somewhat creative mind. As a child I used to spend endless hours playing with Lego. I would build houses, cars, castles, vessels, planes, whatever according to the Lego instruction sheets. Then, on the following day, I would forget those instruction sheets and would build things differently, following my imagination, combining different Lego plastic blocks, shapes and colours. Lego is definitely part of my childhood.
Today, as an adult my favourite brand is Porsche. It reflects my personality. It is a fabulous, classy, yet contemporary brand that makes any tasteful man dream and feel on the top of the world. So much legacy, taste and symbology. No wonder Porsche has been appointed the Most Valuable Luxury Brand in 2020.