For those of us whose gag reflex is triggered by the “Celebrities, They’re Just Like Us” section of tabloid magazines, I have found the antidote: GOOP. Gwyneth Paltrow’s much-maligned website and newsletter gives lifestyle tips that are unabashedly Gwyneth and absolutely nothing like “us.”
Gwyneth doesn’t just tell me what she likes to wear, she shows me her Bottega Veneta black riding boots. She doesn’t just offer me recipes; she tells me that she first ate the meal at Mario Batali’s house. Even better, Gwyneth doesn’t help me find the low cost alternative or suggest where I can find it “near me.” She’s not worried that the economy has me looking to downsize. Nope, she’s all about living richly: Paris and Manhattan, threads of saffron and handbags the cost as much as some cars. She’s not like me, but she thinks I might want to be like her. (Pssst! She’s right!)
In the midst of a recession, GOOP is peddling aspiration and GOOP is not ashamed. While it’s an extreme example, luxury brands and retailers might have something to learn from Gwyneth’s endeavor. She can pull this off because—like it or not—GOOP is authentically Paltrow. Even in this economy, Gwyneth knows not to stop being Gwyneth. Could it be that this same dogged reliance on authenticity could help luxury brands (like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Kate Spade, etc.) and luxury retailers (like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom) remain relevant in this economy?
Companies dealing in luxury must understand how to get customers to meet them at the intersection of quality, price, and prestige. Of course, they can only get there by listening to their customers. (I’m pretty sure, however, that when they arrive they’ll find that Gwyneth already lives there and she’s having Stephen Spielberg over for dinner.)