August 9, 2019 / Director's View

Materiality in Retail

A reminder as to why brands are favouring a chance to demonstrate values over old-school flash.

When it comes to materials, luxury has traditionally leant towards the shiny or the ostentatious when wanting to demonstrate high value. You do not have to look that far back to see a link between the way that luxury brands presented themselves and how very wealthy people decorated the insides of their homes.

Gold detailing, rich colours, and gloss surfaces for a long time maintained their place as the default options when looking to make a high-end statement. If you cannot afford to do it then stay away, but if you can then go all the way.

Luxury interiors have seen the same transition as the shift in fashion that has meant that we are more often able to lean away from our traditional black gloss stilettos and derbys and towards an incredibly well made pair of trainers.

No one will consider it to be a groundbreaking realisation that brands are moving away from these traditional finishes, but when defining your palette it is important to ask, do we really understand why?

A brand becomes more able to leverage the opportunity to communicate with a customer who is seeking depth and integrity from their relationships. It becomes possible to turn what could easily become a throwaway statement and turn it into something that is genuinely considered, unique and on brand.

In an era when being drawn to something shiny is surrounded by a sense of shallowness, what are luxury consumers looking for today?

  • Depth over flash – We would much rather be drawn into something slowly by the intrigue of detail or the wonder as to how something is made.
  • Craftsmanship – Though we no longer need to lean on traditional materials, the importance of the notion of doing something incredibly well is not going away.
  • Thoughtfulness – We think beyond the obvious is a great statement for any brand to make. If you can demonstrate this subconsciously in your branded environments a customer is more likely to this association when it comes to your product or service.
  • Sustainability – Though this is no longer an optional statement for brand, it is and will likely remain an essential way to create loyalty in customers. When you find something you love and then discover they have values relating to philanthropy or our environment, what used to be an opportunity to WOW has been replaced by a sense of relief, and the feeling of, ‘Not only do I love their product but this is a brand with which I am going to be able to build a long term relationship’.

New luxury materials include

  • The organic – like formed woods or cardboards
  • The unexpected – like concrete used in furniture
  • The recycled – like repurposed plastics
  • The composites – like Terrazzo
  • Fusion – like a clean metal against an unfinished marble
  • The re-engineered – like ceramic wood
  • Process innovation – like frozen metal, metal infill or explosion welding

Allow your material selection to support in demonstrating your brand values and you replace a surface level attraction that leads to a moments notice with an opportunity to create a strong and emotional bond.

Please contact f.sheridan@sheridanandco.com to continue the conversation.