Last Updated Jan 18, 2008 9:10 AM EST
is not that we ought to return to the days when few people could afford nice things, but that we must be alert to marketing techniques that attempt to exploit our appetite for an impossibility: a luxury market that is at once truly democratic and truly exclusive.In sum, the review says that
All in all, Thomas argues, we have been sold an overpriced, badly made bill of goods -- regardless of whether our designer possessions are real or fake. And, ultimately, she suggests, it's because we have sold our souls for an impossible dream. In the brave new world of democratized exclusivity, one's identity is confirmed and even enhanced by the branding of one's clothes.Based on the review, marketers should eat this book up -- it will show them how an entire industry used branding to remake consumer psychology. Though the review notes at the end that in strained economic times like ours, mass (that is, fake) luxury like Starbucks and its $3.50 cup of coffee won't hold up. Only real luxury will hold up, because only the actual rich can afford it. Keep an eye on the mass luxury retailers and see if they do better than the brands at Wal-Mart.