Analysis of the value creation, value legitimization and product categorization processes in the luxury handbag sector.
Methods of research include an online survey, in-depth interviews and qualitative analysis of websites, newspapers and blogs. A summary of the findings can be found in the appendices. Results of data analysed show that the value in the luxury handbag sector is socially constructed and several actors play a major role in the value creation. Firstly, brands have common practices to legitimize their brand and their products. These practices include telling a mythical story about their house and founder, putting into light their charismatic artistic director, defending higher values and emphasizing on time, tradition, know-how and creativity. The value created has to be backed by opinion leaders and critics who have the social authority to legitimize objects and make a bag luxurious and desirable. Finally, societies are divided in groups and communities, which are composed of individuals who share similar tastes and consumption practices. They have their own icons and emblems that distinguish them from other groups, and the value of objects may increase when it is valued by reference groups and decrease when valued and associated to counter-models. This report reveals that individuals categorize branded objects and hierarchize them in their minds. These categories change constantly; they are individual but also socially transmitted and can sometimes be so embedded into our procedural knowledge that we cannot always explain why one brand is classified in one specific category. The analysis conducted has limitations that include the fact that the report is not representative of the views of the general population as the vision of luxury can be very different from one group to another.