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Trading Up: The New American Luxury Hardcover – October 13, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; ` edition (October 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591840139
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591840138
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,793,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Bobos in Paradise, David Brooks traced the cultural forces behind the rise of what he called the bohemian bourgeois class. Now Silverstein and Fiske take a close look at its buying patterns. Both authors have v-p-level experience at the Boston Consulting Group studying retail practices, and they display deep familiarity with "new luxury" goods favored by a growing segment of the American middle market with more disposable income than ever. They're talking about people who take shopping tips from Oprah and Martha, swear their washing machine makes them happy, and dine at "fast casual" restaurants instead of burger chains. Many chapters focus on companies that produce specific luxury items. Victoria's Secret, for example, was a small, seedy store before it was purchased by a visionary retailer convinced American women would be willing to pay higher prices for attractive lingerie in a boutique setting. There's also the case of Callaway Golf, which was able to target new luxury shoppers to achieve a tenfold increase in revenue within just three years. Even the toy market can become a breeding ground for high-end items, like American Girl dolls, a line with an extensive back story that appeals to the luxury consumer's desire to "know" the pedigree of his or her purchases (just as some wine aficionados jump at the chance to display their mastery of California vintages). Despite the book's slight technical flaws, including a high degree of repetitiveness, its insights into a highly lucrative market (e.g., single women earn in excess of $374 billion annually) make this a must read for anyone interested in practical economics.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Many words can be written that underscore the truth about trading up--or, in these authors' words, "consumers who selectively trade up to better products and trade down to pay for other premium purchases." Writers have documented the trend of middle-market Americans to selectively decide that, say, a luxury automobile or vacation is worth the extra bucks while "sacrificing" other goods, such as dining out or clothing. With much perspicacity and no small amount of statistics, Silverstein and his coauthors underscore with eight practices what leaders need to do, including never underestimating customers to using influence marketing and seeding success through brand apostles. However, many of the examples they use are the "same-old" case histories--Williams-Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, Canyon Ranch, Samuel Adams Boston lager--that have been employed time and time again to illustrate other segmentation and marketing theories. Yet the concepts are valid; the caveats should be heeded. What's needed? Extraordinarly savvy marketers who can stay the course in the toughest of economies. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Anyone interested in Consumer Marketing, must read.
Jong Hee Jo
What Silverstein and Fiske offer is this volume is a rigorous analysis of those companies which continue to be most successful in the New Luxury economy.
Robert Morris
Very insightful, easy to read and apply the core principles described in the book.
Digby Beyleveld

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
NOTE: This review of the Revised and Updated edition may also be featured in combination with other reviews of the earlier edition.

This is a revised and updated edition of the highly-praised and award-winning bestseller which first appeared in October of 2003. Obviously, Silverstein and Fiske have since learned a great deal from responses to their analysis of "New Luxury": a rapidly developing socio-economic trend as America's middle-market consumers are trading up to "products and services which possess higher levels of quality, taste, and [key word] aspiration than [other] goods in the [same] category but are not so expensive as to be out of reach...[trading up to products and services which] sell at much higher prices than conventional goods and in much higher volumes than traditional luxury goods and, as a result, have soared into previously uncharted territory high above the familiar price-volume demand curve."

The significance of this paradigm shift continues to have profound implications for literally anyone who competes each day for consumers' attention, consideration, and (most important of all) business. Hence the importance of this revised and updated edition. For decision-makers in most local chambers which do not offer luxury products and services, the challenge is to convince prospects (e.g. for membership, sponsorships, and for placement of advertising) that the total value far exceeds the given cost. (I agree with Warren Buffett that cost is what is charged but value is what a buyer think it's worth.) For example, many people will join a local chamber to "trade up" IF they perceive that, by doing so, they will then have access to better as well as more extensive networks of business contacts. In this instance, prestige and luxury are synonymous.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Limbach on April 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book for several reasons.
1) The premise made sense from the beginning
2) They backed it up with real data and examples
3) The book was highly readable (not an academic snooze inducer)
4) The information is useful to my business
A brilliant successor to Paco Underhill's outstanding "Why We Buy."
Are people shallow if they identify with certain products or lifestyle choices? Perhaps. What this consumer trend says about people is not the issue. It's about how businesses must adjust to this phenomenon to remain viable.
The book visits the concept of "Death in the middle." The market is polarizing more than ever. The biggest successes are either the lowest cost or the highest. People are moving away from the mid-range products. Your product is either a commodity or a specialty item.
People are choosing which goods that they want to be identified with - good that define their passion and personality. They will spend a great deal more on these few items. Everything else is unimportant, so the cheaper the cost the better.
So if you are a marketer, position your products as either the lowest cost or the highest. If you are a product manager, design your products to fit one or the other class. Don't die in the middle.
I wonder if we'll see this phenomenon in books. Maybe we'll start seeing $75 luxuriously bound books for people who love reading. I'll keep watching to see if anyone tries it.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Serge J. Van Steenkiste on August 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Silverstein has written a built-to-last business book about a global phenomenon that is not going away unlike so many other business fads. Trading Up and trading down has a transformational effect on more and more categories, retailing and markets. Silverstein clearly explains that the increasingly sophisticated consumers of the critical "middle market" have been key to drive a polarization of the product and service offering to the high and low ends of the price spectrum. Woe be to the businesses which continue to offer conventional goods and services getting "stuck in the middle." Think for instance about the Big Three of Detroit, traditional airline companies, and some chains of department stores.

Although Silverstein focuses on trading up in this book, he mentions elsewhere that in 2004 in the U.S. alone, trading down was at $1 trillion almost twice as big as trading up. The "savings" that consumers get from an increasingly efficient economy can be re-injected in even more consumption. This consumption frenzy has resulted in abysmal saving rates that will haunt the U.S. when ongoing demographic changes will start to undermine the financial stability of complementary sources of income as Peter Peterson correctly points out in "Running on Empty."

In the meantime, smart entrepreneurs and companies have reinvented their marketplace by making "massstige" or mass prestige products available to an ever-growing proportion of the critical middle market. These products command a price premium over conventional offerings, but are priced well below super-premium or old luxury products. Furthermore, these mass prestige products are pretty resilient in a downturn economy.

Trading up is driven by changes to both demand and supply.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Monson Marukatat on June 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The trading up proposition is interesting, but the readers can grab the gist of the book by just reading chapter 1 which summarizes the entire book, and chapter 14 which covers the way forward. The other chapters are like exhibits to support the executive summary.
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