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For some people, luxury items are a must-have, not just a nice-to-have. Nowadays, targeting "the rich" is not enough and luxury marketing professionals need to understand the mechanisms underlying consumer behavior. 

Professor Diana Derval, Chair of research firm DervalResearch and owner of the luxury fashion brand Derval Paris, proposes various ways of decoding the science behind luxury shoppers in her latest book Designing Luxury Brands: The Science of Pleasing Consumers' Senses (2018). If you have read her book The Right Sensory Mix (2010), you already know she conducts cutting-edge neuroendocrinology research applied to product development and communication. The author has based this book on her research, offering readers powerful business frameworks they can use and adapt for their needs in order to understand and predict human behavior. 

Using a wide variety of interesting research cases on luxury brands, the author highlights what makes them so fascinating and successful, as they are not just about shiny products, but also encompass precious moments and experiences. Published by Springer, the book is structured in six chapters. Each one starts with an introduction to the topic, presents the insights based on research, experience and business cases, highlights the take-aways and also offers a list of references that help satisfy our curiosity. 

Professor Derval presents the Derval Color Test® that she designed based on eye specialization on color perception in order to understand consumer preferences and the impact of colors, contrast or patterns on the appeal of luxury products. The Hormonal Quotient® is another tool patented by the author that allows us to better understand ourselves and the different types of consumers. With each chapter, we learn to profile and connect with luxury shoppers, predict and address luxury shoppers' hidden demands, spot the true competitors and best place to be in the luxury market, how to design unique and appealing luxury items, how to clarify the messaging and engage luxury shoppers at the right moment and at the right place, or how to find the right brand ambassadors and create classics. 

Many of the insights presented in Designing Luxury Brands are somewhat unexpected. For example, we discover how hormones impact our response to luxury, or how fine-tuning the frequency and intensity of vibrations has an impact on the luxury industry, as it feeds the need to impress opponents. The book presents insights into maleto- male competition, but also about the physiology of female-to-female competition and why they experience the need to own and wear the latest designer bag. 

As luxury products exist in order for consumers to fulfill the need to compete, impress, create a certain image of themselves, expand their territory or become successful, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding the substrates behind the needs and choices of consumers, but also understanding our own choices - from a different point of view. 

This book is also recommended to anyone eager to discover that details we never thought of form the foundation of the success of luxury brands. Each chapter will not only provide you with insights gained from innovative and cutting-edge research, it will also challenge you to decode your own behavior. 

Reviewer: Monica Diana Bercea, PhD Student in Neuromarketing Affiliation: “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Marketing Department, Iasi, Romania