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Title: Luxury and sustainability: a common future? The match depends on how consumers define luxury

Authors: Jean-Noël Kapferer; Anne Michaut

Addresses: INSEEC Group, 14 Rue de Prony, 75017 Paris, France ' HEC Paris, 1 rue de la Libération, 78351 Jouy-en-Josas, France

Abstract: Sustainability issues have become a challenge for the luxury sector whose continuous success and growth - despite recessions, economic crises and increasing social inequality - appear as a paradox or even a provocation for some critics. Based on a program of multiple surveys involving actual luxury customers, we explain why customers are not concerned about sustainability considerations when they purchase a luxury product. But this apparent uninvolvement hides a more complex reality with high latent expectations towards luxury brands. Fundamentally, the perceived contradiction between luxury and sustainability depends on how luxury is defined by consumers: it is lower for consumers defining luxury in terms of exceptional quality. This is crucial for the defence of the legitimacy of the luxury sector as a whole, and of its most iconic brands for the future.

Keywords: sustainability; luxury goods; luxury brands; luxury industry; corporate social responsibility; CSR; ethics; fashion; sustainable development; customer perceptions; latent expectations.

DOI: 10.1504/LRJ.2015.069828

Luxury Research Journal, 2015 Vol.1 No.1, pp.3 - 17

Received: 21 Jan 2015
Accepted: 21 Jan 2015

Published online: 12 Jun 2015 *

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