August 9, 2017 /Consumer


Woman reading financial times newspaper

A few weeks ago, The Times reported that the sales of bookcases are up by at least 10% on the year at the retailer John Lewis. Premium ranges have driven this growth. The retailer reported that their £699 industrial modular bookshelf witnessed an increase of 244% in the year. As consequence, these bookworms are showcasing their style on Instagram.

Earlier this year, Sheridan&Co’s Strategy team attended a luxury briefing hosted by Stylus. The research and innovation agency explored the rise of a different luxury consumer, the new elite.

Author of Sum of Small Things, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett characterises this new tribe as a departure from conventional elites, whereby cultural capital, knowledge and awareness are key indicators of status. As today is #BookLoversDay, the proliferation of bookcases highlights the rise of the new elite.

So who exactly is the new elite? Class is affirmed by how people in this tribe make decisions to display their attainment of knowledge. Education and learning are prioritised. Brash displays of wealth are frown upon. Instead, sharing an intellectual insight that you picked up from the Financial Times during the week at a dinner party is welcomed. As well as investing in attaining and exhibiting knowledge, Stylus explained that environmental awareness and social consciousness are intrinsic to the new elite,

They are likely to shop at Wholefoods irrespective of economic means and purchase organic. Currid-Halkett argues that Toms is another brand that represents this group. For each pair sold, another is given to a person in need. At £25 a pair, money no longer equates superiority, social awareness does. As consequence, the new elite is disengaged with materialism and is shifting towards the immaterial to mark their superiority.

So how exactly do brands interact with this new tribe? Sheridan&Co is a retail design agency that specialises in consumer research. We empower brands to navigate the changes in consumer attitudes. To understand how your brand can resonate with the new elite, get in touch here.