EDHEC Research: Should luxury be described in concrete language?

On April 8th, EDHEC researchers (Marie-Cécile Cervellon, Marie-Catherine Mars, Virginie de Barnier) presented their paper entitled “Should luxury be described in concrete language?” at the Monaco Symposium on Luxury. The paper tests experimentally how product display and verbal descriptions, such as presenting products using abstract or concrete language, affect online purchases. It explains the psychological mechanisms that are at play when browsing internet for a gift or booking a hotel or a restaurant. In addition to insightful research papers, The Monaco Symposium on Luxury was the stage for business presentations, among others Bentley, L’Oreal luxury division, Jean Patou, Wally Yacht, Air France or Accor.

See the website http://monaco-symposium-on-luxury.com/

Abstract. This research uses the Construal Level Theory framework (Trope & Liberman, 2010) to understand the influence of product description on purchasing luxury vs. accessible products online. In a field experiment, French participants (n = 368) were recruited online, three weeks or three days before Christmas 2014, as they were shopping for a gift. Results show that the nearer the goal (Christmas), the nearer the gift recipient (similar other), and the more distal the product category (luxury), the higher the intention to purchase the product based on detailed product description. In a second experiment, students (n= 353) had to make a choice between two hotels described similarly side-by-side in concrete or abstract language. The chances to choose the concrete description are enhanced the more distal the product category (luxury), the more likely the trip and the more experienced the respondent with booking online luxury hotels. Although luxury brands might enhance brand desirability using allusive or abstract description, our results indicate that detailed and concrete product descriptions might be a stronger factor of sales conversion online.

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