BUYERS of luxury goods are changing as class structures develop, creating new groups that designers and brand owners need to target, according to research by design consultancy Fitch. Its project into changing consumer attitudes has identified four types of luxury goods shoppers – connoisseurs, radicals, mandarins and epicureans. “Immigrants with a comprehensive education are as likely to be middle class as white public school boys. This greater social mobility means the definition of luxuries and services is changing,” the report claims. Author Salman Rushdie and footballer Graeme Le Saux are cited as celebrity examples of connoisseurs – people who “spend time and money becoming knowledgeable about what they buy”. Radicals include singers Robbie Williams and Scary Spice, and TV presenter Johnny Vaughan. Research suggests they are “impulsively fashion-conscious” as well as being “risk takers”. Patsy Kensit and Chris Evans belong to the new breed of mandarins, who regard reputation and power as most important. “They believe both can be bought and desire respect,” says the report. Joanna Lumley, Peter Mandelson and Glenn Hoddle are epicureans : “People devoted to good living, fastidious in choice and prone to living according to habit.” The results support research by Hertfordshire consultancy FMS. But FMS managing director Nigel Fulcher is concerned about brand owners trying to cater for all. “There is a danger of firms losing their way. By making luxury items too accessible, the aspiration to have the product may go,” says Fulcher.
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