JBR Special Issue – Unconventional Luxury

March 1, 2018

Guest Editors:
Sylvia von Wallpach (Copenhagen Business School)
Thyra Uth Thomsen (Copenhagen Business School)
Andrea Hemetsberger (School of Management, University of Innsbruck)
Jonas Holmqvist (KEDGE Business School)
Russell Belk (Schulich School of Business, York University)

Luxury is a well-researched area in the domain of consumer research but most extant luxury research still focuses almost exclusively on luxury goods, ignoring luxury services and luxury experiences. This dearth of research is problematic, as luxury experiences and services are now driving the development of luxury markets, yet remaining absent in luxury research. As examples of the strong goods focus, Berry (1994, p. 41) states that “a luxury good is a widely desired (because not yet widely attained) good that is believed to be ‘pleasing’. Along these lines, Appadurai (1986, p. 38) offers a definition of luxury goods emphasizing their role as social markers, asserting that their “principal use is rhetorical and social, goods that are simply incarnated signs”, a view more recently echoed by Han, Nunes and Drèze (2010, p. 16), stating that “Luxury goods are traditionally defined as goods such that the mere use or display of a particular branded product brings the owner prestige apart from any functional utility”. These quotes underline two key aspects of extant luxury research: it remains focused on goods and on prestige. Consequently, to date, luxury is often presented in relation to symbolic consumption as a way for the members of the upper class to demonstrate their wealth, power, and status (e.g., Appadurai, 1986; Dubois and Duquesne, 1993; Kastanakis and Balabanis, 2014; O’Cass and McEwen, 2004; Okonkwo, 2009; Truong, Simmons, and Kitchen, 2008; Veblen, 1994/1899).

Even though traces of luxury and symbolic consumption can be found throughout history (Goodwin, Ackerman, and Kiron 1997) the notions of luxury have been constructed differently in different contexts showing the dynamic nature of this construct, always in motion (J ckel and Kochhan, 2000; Kapferer, 2008; Mortelmans, 2005). Lately, alongside with new logics in marketing focusing on intangible resources, relationships, and the co- creation of value in sharing economies (Vargo and Lusch, 2004; Belk, 2010), new and unconventional notions of luxury are emerging and shifting the focus from “having-to- being and from owning-to-experiencing” (Cristini et al. 2017, p. 101).

Consequently, in the field of luxury, the last decade in particular has seen a markedly more multifaceted approach to luxury than the strong focus on only tangible products and conspicuous and eye-catching prestige linked to physical luxury goods and brands still dominating luxury research. Lipovetsky (2003) first suggested that the concept of luxury is evolving into an intangible and subjective understanding. This turning point marks the beginning of an interest into experiences of luxury as a phenomenon beyond the consumption of incarnated signs (Tynan, McKechnie, and Chhuon, 2010). Although empirical investigations of unconventional luxury are still scarce, some studies pave the way by investigating, for instance, the link between luxury experiences and states or processes of self (Hemetsberger, von Wallpach, and Bauer, 2012), inconspicuous luxury (Eckhardt, Belk, and Wilson, 2015), or the luxury of giving and related processes of self- and other-transformation (Llamas and Thomsen, 2016).

In this vein, the special issue opens the scope by welcoming studies about luxury from a broad and unconventional perspective, going beyond the classical idea of luxury as the consumption of certain conspicuous goods and brands and instead focusing on experiencing, giving, producing, or sharing – rather than owning and displaying – luxury. It also acknowledges that consumers may pursue pain rather than pleasure (Scott, Cayla and Cova, 2017), and it embraces access to intangible virtual goods in digital form and the challenges they present to traditional requirements that luxuries be scarce and pleasurable. The special issue will present less prevalent and rather disruptive perspectives regarding the luxury phenomenon and intends to cover, but is not limited, to topics like the following:

1. (Re-)conceptualizations of luxury beyond the classical view

2. Experiential luxury / moments of luxury

3. Inconspicuous luxury

4. Luxury in the sharing economy: The luxury of non-owned possessions

5. Luxury in service contexts

6. Digital and other intangible luxuries

7. Luxuries that may involve pain rather than pleasure

We welcome conceptual and empirical work, both quantitative and qualitative, which contributes to achieve at least one of the following objectives:

* critically reviewing extant literature to identify higher order perspectives on unconventional luxury;

* empirically understanding unconventional luxury;

* building on developments/findings from various disciplines, adding new insights into
unconventional luxury.

* identifying and understanding unconventional luxury in specific contexts – e.g. (sub-)cultures, generations, societal groups – and across contexts.

Questions concerning the special issue should be sent by email to the corresponding JBR Guest Editors, Sylvia von Wallpach (svw.marktg@cbs.dk) and Thyra Uth Thomsen (tt.marktg@cbs.dk)

Manuscripts are submitted via the Elsevier Editorial system (http://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-business-research/). Be sure to select article type “SI: Unconventional Luxury”.
When preparing your submission, please check the JBR website for guidelines on style and length (http://www.elsevier.com/journals/journal-of-business-research/0148- 2963/guide-for-authors)

Initial Submission opens: 26 July 2018

Submission deadline: 15 November 2018

Expected publication date: Fall 2019

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