Every flight I take gives me at least one idea for my blog, courtesy the people watching and reading. On Friday, as I leafed through CNN traveller an advertisement for a new product from IDEAL STANDARD, called TRIS caught my eye. TRIS is positioned as the first multi-functional shower cabin (sauna, steam, shower ) in a space no bigger than a bath-tub. In short, well-being at home. It looks beautiful with real sauna like wooden flooring and walls (unlike the plastic interiors of most hydro-shower cubicles in the market today). There is a wider phenomenon at work here- “Convenient Luxury/indulgence”.
At first sight, convenience and luxury (or indulgence) are not natural partners. But in today’s cash rich, time poor society the combination of these unlikely bed-fellows is creating new categories and revenues. Time (and space) is the biggest luxury in today’s world and money is no object.
Gourmet, Luxury or Indulgent experiences were earlier largely available out of home. This restricted the physical access and the frequency of consumption. Cost was also a constraint for the “indulgence” to become mass. However with growing wealth and society’s focus on self-indulgence, pampering, well-being etc consumers are paying to have the convenience of these indulgent /gourmet experiences at home, at any time they want. Additionally technology is driving the convergence in the quality of in-home and out-of-home experience, at a price which generates significant volumes.
3 categories(brands) which typify this “at home indulgence” phenomenon come to my mind immediately. Coffee (Nespresso), Massage (OSIM) and now Spa (TRIS from Ideal Standard). Even Harrods, with the Harrods 101 convenience store (opposite the flag ship store) has realized the potential of easier and faster access to gourmet food.
I predict that more categories will aim to offer “convenient indulgence” at a performance level nearly matching the out-of-home professionally delivered experiences, at prices which are not cheap but are within the reach of the “mass-affluent”. High-end digital entertainment (private movie theatre), private pools, billiard tables, squash/tennis courts, fitness equipment are already present in the homes of the rich. As the mass affluent segment grows in size globally, so will these categories.
Product placement can play an important role in driving this category. Nespresso machines can be added to the rooms on the executive floors of top hotels, together with the high-end Plasma TVs and I-pod players already present. I would even consider putting the OSIM I-Pilot massage chair (shown above), in select hotel rooms. At first sight, it might appear as competition to the in-house spa. However, how many travel weary executives find the energy and the time to go to the spa for a massage after they enter their hotel rooms? The in-room massage chair will be a welcome and much valued and used amenity for select guests and rooms, generating loyalty and repeat business for the hotel. The other rooms can offer the smaller and ten times cheaper iSqueez.
Last year I stayed in the Shangri-La at Singapore and the rooms had Bang & Olufsen gear (TV, phone, audio player). If you fell in love with one of the products you could go down to the lobby and there was a small but beautiful B&O shop where one could experience the entire range. Great example of smart product placement, seamlessly moving the consumer from interest and trial (in the room) to potential purchase in the shop.