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Still time for life's luxuries.


We may be in a new age of austerity, but according to a recent report spend on luxury status symbols is showing no sign of abating.

Apparently, while the rest of us have been swapping Sainsbury's for Aldi, those with the financial assets to do so have been snapping up cars and jets, country homes and works of art.

An auction held just a few weeks ago saw a Picasso sell for pounds 34 million while elsewhere a 1960s Ferrari recently changed hands for pounds 12 million.

Record prices, set in the midst of a global recession.

Status symbols - whether a multi-million pound painting or a Taste the Difference sausage - have always been employed to show fellow man just how far up the tree we sit.

However, what constitutes status is fragmenting rapidly creating an opportunity for brands that truly understand their consumers.

A number of recent studies have indicated that we're no longer solely obsessed with owning or experiencing the best or the most, but are increasingly getting our status fixes from less obvious sources.

New status symbols include ecocredentials (how green you are), philanthropy (how generous you are), connectivity (the people you know), skills (the things you can do) and experiences (the things we've done).

The resulting stories we tell have become as much as part of our status as the things we own.

These so-called status stories provide the threads that, when woven in and out of our own life stories, combine to make us more interesting, more individual, more purposeful even.

In sharing our stories with our peers, they define our status just as a physical asset might.

So what does this mean to those of us involved in creating, promoting and selling products and services? The key principal to take away is that a brand's role is no longer just to tell its own story, but to help customers tell theirs.

The prize for those who can facilitate - with content, conversation and experiences - is that they themselves will become an integral part of the individual's story, engendering loyalty and enhancing their own value inextricably.

Jacqui Lennon is managing director of WAA
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 8, 2010
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