How luxury brands can create a sense of lifestyle

By Thomas Tochtermann and Linda Dauriz

Real luxury lifestyle must be rooted in authenticity. If luxury brands stray too far from their roots, they will be reduced to little more than faded labels. Here is how companies can infuse their luxury brands with a sense of lifestyle—and substance, too.

Keith Richards lounging in his hotel room with a branded custom guitar by his side.

Zinedine Zidane playing a game of table soccer, with his Louis Vuitton trolley barely visible in the distance.

These images successfully create a sense of lifestyle, helping to articulate Louis Vuitton’s rich and authentic luxury brand identity. Everyone has a sense of what constitutes luxury; defining lifestyle is more difficult, and even trickier for brands to create. Yet there are enormous rewards for doing so. The conjunction of luxury and lifestyle is more popular than ever, and consumers and the press increasingly perceive lifestyle as an element in luxury.

This comprehensive McKinsey report,Luxury lifestyle: Business beyond buzzwords” details the steps and core principles businesses need to follow when trying to infuse their luxury brand with a sense of lifestyle. First, it’s important to understand that building a sense of lifestyle is a slow, evolutionary process that requires patience and care. Too many brands have rushed into expanding both categories and message touchpoints without first defining their core values.

Authenticity is the most important consideration when communicating luxury lifestyle. A senior executive at one of the world’s most renowned fashion houses put it this way: “Lifestyle is the result of what we do, not the purpose.”

Brands that effectively communicate lifestyle messages use images that tell stories beyond just their product. These can include visuals of cityscapes, leisure activities or other slices of the luxurious life. The brand’s products may be visible, but they are not necessarily the center of attention. These lifestyle messages and images are broadcast not just through magazines and TV ads, but across multiple channels, including blogs, social media profiles, and interactive mobile apps.

Connecting with the idea of lifestyle is promising territory for luxury brands. Consumers are eager for products that communicate a sense of uniqueness and distinctiveness, for something special and authentic that will enrich their lives. Brands that create these stories can enhance their value many times over.