From the dream of success to the success of the dream. Or what we mean when we talk about luxury, today

The postmodern consumer is changing and changing by constitution. What was fundamental yesterday may no longer be fundamental, and what was superfluous may have become strangely fundamental.  For secondary goods, there is no longer any expense. We need to possess objects and services that are unknown to history books, to define ourselves and demonstrate our social belonging. So what tools does a brand need to adapt to newer ways of consumption?
One way to think about and understand the priorities of contemporary mankind and how it has changed in the transition to the new millennium is halfway through an interesting telephone conversation between Prof. Stefano Gnasso, Professor of Consumer Sociology at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan, and author of enlightening essays on the dynamics of consumption of contemporary man.
When we talk about the dream of success, however, we must first face the reality that, in a few decades and in the space of four to five generations, it has radically changed its appearance. Starting from the assumption that this reality is made - more or less - in the image and likeness of the man who participates in it. We have moved from the dream of success (years 1950-70) to the success of the dream (years 2000)". What, then, is the figure of this unstoppable transformation that has "liquefied" society and changed the human into post-modern?
If the greatest aspiration of the Baby Boomers, the generation "born with shirts" from post-war dust, was to be able to afford a FIAT car, a television and a vacuum cleaner, it is legitimate to wonder how these parents have been able to bring so many greedy and uncontestable children to the world. If our grandparents have sacrificed in order to pay the university fees of their children and “Mamma Italia” has done the rest, promising them a permanent job and a decent salary; and if these children, growing up, have discovered how beautiful it is to simplify their lives with luxury goods and dress in the clothes of the wealthy bourgeois, then it is easy to understand the spiral motion that has incorporated the lives of generations to follow.
Once upon a time, goods had a specific role and meaning. From house furnishings, car models, food on the table and even holiday types, you could deduce the social class belonging to a family unit. Over time, it has become more and more complicated to make assumptions about the income of others.
What was fundamental yesterday may no longer be fundamental, and what was superfluous may have become strangely fundamental.

"For secondary goods, there is no longer any cost. From the status symbol we have arrived at the stay symbol"- simplifies Prof. Gnasso with a game of words full of meaning.
"We need to have some things to define ourselves and demonstrate our belonging to a social assembly"

It may seem obvious, the world has been running like this since the dawn of time; but there is something else. Deploy the weapons of the class struggle: the capitalists and proletarians of yesterday no longer exist. Forget them as well, but do not forget Marx and his acute philosophical speculation on cost and value. The price, today more than ever before, does not make the value: precious goods are not the most expensive, and the new consumer differs from the old buyer.
The basket is no longer seasoned with some extravagance, but it is made up of a list of objects and services unknown to the history books: Internet of things, wellness paths, super food, extreme sports, extreme adventures and even car rentals.
At that time they called them luxury goods, and they were sporadic whims reserved for a slice of the privileged people. Today they are called experiences, and they are moments of gratification of the ego within everyone's reach. Or almost. "We are in the moment of accessible luxury, a change that has been made possible mainly thanks to the change in purchasing methods".
Divide into instalments and micro credit are the main creators of the consumer revolution - Gnasso points out - but the transformation is pervasive and creeps into the engine of contemporary marketing.
Brand identity and brand image. The poetry of the No Logo (Naomi Klein, n. d. d. r.) has lost all energy because the consumer driver is no longer the affixing of a label, but rather a promise of social inclusion. The symbolic force of the product today enters into the process of building the identity of consumer-citizens, as well as into the process of giving meaning to one's own life experience. He explains this as "Existential Marketing. Consumers buy, individuals choose"(2015), the book written in four hands by Stefano Gnasso and Paolo Iabichino.
It is no longer enough to offer one's audience experiences to live on a sensory or emotional level, but it is necessary to propose real opportunities for transformation, giving a new meaning to the relationship between brand and consumers. It is no longer enough to send the right message to the right target group, these messages must be relevant, linked to recognizable and credible ideas and ideals, in which individuals can identify themselves and from which they can draw inspiration and meaning.

The role of a more choosy and conscious consumer, who is less passive than the various hypodermic theories of communication and marketing, which tended to establish a certain correlation between market input and user reaction, is taking shape. And this forces the brand to face a new challenge: to carry on the new market's consumption trends without distorting itself.

But what are the elements necessary to succeed in activating the transformative power of the brand? First, to understand that consumption is no longer purely rational but responds to emotional factors, constantly changing and elusive by constitution. Second point: identify the soul of the brand - mission and core business - and translate it into effective communication tools. Stefano Gnasso answers,
"Goods must sublimate into stories that can actively involve the consumer. It is necessary for the brand to produce engaging identity narratives to encourage the user to redefine himself through possession. The brand's objective is therefore to identify powerful reference archetypes that guide consumer perception".
Not only semiotics (signs and symbols), but also semantics (language). Stay symbol. Or "stay hungry, stay foolish", to quote Steve Jobs, the man who interfered with the fate of computer science and changed the lives of converts to the Apple religion.
"Many do but from my point of view speaking about ontological change is excessive. I don't think there is a dynamic of existential mutation in progress; today the consumer is looking for an alternative way to the past to define his membership of a peer group".
Be or have? In the book of the same name, Erich Fromm identifies two alternative existential modes, defined as the possibility of the ego: the Being which is the specific condition of human existence (I am), and the Being that is defined in relation to possession (I have). It is the social structure with its norms and values that decides how it will take over from time to time. In the post-modern liquid society, the caesura of the ego between Being and Having is recomposed thanks to the brand that is able to tell an intriguing story for the imagination of the consumer.

Storytelling, content creation, digital communication: like "homo faber fortunae suae", so does the brand that becomes a publisher of itself. Knowing how to do this is no longer enough: in order to transport people to a future that can no longer emulate the past, it is necessary to start again from the specificity of the individual-consumer. If in the past we allowed ourselves to be seduced by goods to give us pre-packaged dreams, today we turn our eyes to Hyper uranium. Once upon a time the concept of luxury was intrinsically linked to the material, now manufacture counts more than manufacture; ideas, symbols, stories make the soul of the product, and create the perfect matchmaking between supply and demand. The creative factor enters into the definition of the object with arrogance. Inspiration counts as much as its concrete manifestation because, as Bruno Munari said; "The meaning of an object is a consequence of the design process. Therefore, the end is not the result, but the creative motion", where creating means to put a signature that signifies the uniqueness of the proposal and the exclusivity of its buyer.

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