Monday, October 22, 2007

The Spinal Tap Economy

The real problem with the ultra-wealthy.

From Slate:

About 10 years ago, a new idea emerged about luxury. Luxury was no longer the exclusive preserve of the very rich. Thanks to rising incomes, greater access to credit, and increased connoisseurship, Everyshopper could consider herself a luxury customer.

People might buy their basics at big-box retailers, but they'd splurge on selected items that were meaningful to them in boutiques. The theory of trading up, espoused by consultants from Boston Consulting Group, held that luxury businesses should lower their sights and expand their vision of the potential customer base....

...Some marketers are taking their cue from the mockumentary Spinal Tap. In one priceless moment, Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) describes how the dial on his amplifier goes up to 11, for when he needs "that extra push over the cliff."

Luxury businesses are now going to 11. This fall, a new resort, the Setai, opened in Miami Beach, offering unprecedented luxury and service (PDF). Some luxury watchers have dubbed it America's first "six-star hotel." And here, as in so many other areas, American luxury aficionados are taking their cues from foreign goods. There's already a six-star casino/hotel in Macau, and a seven-star hotel in Dubai. For the ultra-rich these days, too much is never quite enough....MORE