Retail luxury strategy: assembling charisma through art and magic

Delphine Dion, Eric J. Arnould

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Luxury retail strategy differs from other retail strategies not merely in distinctive formulations of product, price, distribution, and appeals to customer distinction. Instead, it increasingly stands or falls on the legitimacy of a charismatic creative director. The director offers an aesthetic brand ideology. Luxury retail draws on the principles of art and magic to assemble the charismatic persona of the creative director and to diffuse his aesthetic ideology to the brand. Moreover, luxury retail strategy enlists magical and aesthetic principles within and without the store to achieve these ends. Finally, retail luxury is producer rather than consumer oriented and seeks to generate awe rather than community. This strategy appears to be to some extent a response to legitimacy crises provoked by recent strategic extensions of luxury brands into mass marketing. We offer some implications for marketing in which the charisma of a key personage is at stake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-520
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Retailing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • luxury
  • themed retail
  • magic
  • charisma
  • retail brand ideology
  • art
  • legitimacy
  • persona


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