A life of luxury: how a new, dedicated luxury program will set you up for a lavish career

18 November, 2021
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A life of luxury: how a new, dedicated luxury program will set you up for a lavish career

Executive education programs director Dr. Eleonora Cattaneo is introducing a new program to César Ritz Colleges in Brig, opening doors to the many myriad career paths in the luxury and hospitality industries. But why should you get serious about luxury? She explains all 

By Swiss Education Group

4 minutes
Luxury hospitality is Switzerland's specialty

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The best things in life are free. The second best are very expensive. 

Coco Chanel 

 

Luxury is many things, to many people. Beyond the Birkin bags and Ferraris, there’s a lived experience of luxury that shatters the stereotype. What’s yours?  

Is it time? The rise of so-called ‘time millionaires’, those who value their leisure time over their finances, is proof enough that, for a sizeable chunk of the population, time trumps money. The ‘luxury of time’ has never seemed a truer ideal: nearly two years of lockdowns, restrictions and re-evaluations have meant many of us have a renewed sense of the value of time, and are more willing, if privilege allows, to claw some of it back from work to spend on holiday or with loved ones. After all, we’ve lost so much of it to a ruthless virus. 

Is it ease? We have technology to thank for the answer to most common problems in our hectic lives – distance, lack of time, inability – but it comes at a cost. For those with access to smart devices, appliances and gadgets, life is a slightly smoother ride.  

Is it comfort? A long, bubbly soak in the tub? A filling three course dinner? A good night’s sleep? Basic needs like these often fall down our priority list in the face of deadlines and life’s little dramas, so finally having the space to pay attention to them can feel nothing short of decadent. 

Eleonora Cattaneo Eleonora Cattaneo is an expert on all things luxury

“Luxury is an elusive concept,” agrees César Ritz Colleges lecturer, Dr. Eleonora Cattaneo, currently teaching hospitality leadership and organizational behavior, advanced marketing strategy in hospitality and tourism and innovation management. “It tends to be subjective: my luxury is not your luxury.” 

Dr. Cattaneo knows luxury like no other – in fact, it’s what drew her to Switzerland in the first place. She holds a BA from Bristol University, an MBA from SDA Bocconi and a PhD from Università di Pavia, and specializes in luxury branding. Before joining the school, she directed the MA program in luxury brand management at Regent’s University in London. 

“I have always had a duel academic/consulting profile, teaching and working in the industry,” she explains. “My broad experience lies in branding and brand management, with a focus on luxury brands. An interest in the hospitality industry combined with Switzerland’s position as one of the ‘Big Four’ (along with France, Italy and the UK) when it comes to developing and managing luxury brands, attracted me to the country. Swiss luxury is particularly strong in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors.” 

In these extraordinary times, however, luxury’s firm standing and place in the world has been challenged by economic instability and a devastating health crisis. What does it mean now, in a post-pandemic landscape? 

Brig campusYou can find Dr. Cattaneo at our Brig campus

“Luxury is still an exclusive experience which goes beyond function,” considers Dr. Cattaneo. “Luxury is therefore also offered at prices far above its material value and luxury brands are often linked to a unique heritage and inimitable knowhow. Access to luxury should be deliberately limited and controlled, as well as accompanied by highly personalized customer care services. 

“Nonetheless, the luxury industry, as we once knew it, took a hit, just like many others. Although it seems to be recovering quite quickly, the pandemic has had a ripple effect. Consumers of luxury are now much more open to buying online, something which brands had reservations about promoting before. And there has been a change in how people dress! Brands you wouldn’t expect are developing leisurewear to meet demand.” 

Another profound change the luxury industry has had to contend with? Its coming-of-age clientele. Luxury isn’t just the preserve of wealthy, older generations. 

“Luxury is still on a growth trajectory and Gen Z are already strong consumers,” Dr. Cattaneo reflects. “We are now seeing brands meeting the younger generation’s needs: who would ever have thought, even just a few years ago, that the likes of Gucci and Balenciaga would produce sneakers?"  

PradaLuxury brands like Prada are disrupting the industry, explains Dr. Cattaneo

So there’s life in luxury yet? 

“Oh definitely!” says Dr. Cattaneo. “We’ll see collaborations with artists and co-branding becoming more and more prevalent [think: Balenciaga and Gucci; Prada and Raf Simons], massive growth of pre-owned luxury, both promoted by the brands themselves and through third-party platforms, and strong acceleration on sustainable products and experiences.” 

Speaking of sustainability, this is one area in which the luxury market has really had to pull its (cashmere) socks up. Thankfully, creative solutions now abound. 

“Traditionally, luxury and sustainability were considered incompatible,” recognizes Dr. Cattaneo. “But this is no longer the case. From mushroom-based Mylo to cactus-based materials, vegan leathers are fast becoming a real alternative to both genuine and petrol-based PVC leathers in the industry.  

“Meanwhile, Tiffany has launched its Diamond Source initiative, committing to sharing the source of all new stones, using blockchains to establish chains of custody. And Pioneer luxury hotels are aiming to become carbon-neutral properties, using alternative energy resources and recyclable, eco-friendly, and locally-sourced building materials. In hospitality in general, a number of energy-saving devices, such as smart windows and kinetic carpets, will lead green transformation.” 

Top Five Jobs You Didn’t Know Existed in Luxury 

 

Authenticity expert  

Making sure valuable items are indeed valuable – and genuine. Think handbags, art and watches, among many other pieces. 

 

Trend forecaster 

With strong research skills and a finger on the pulse, forecasters are able to point brands and organizations in the right direction, and help them stay one step ahead.  

 

Supply chain analyst 

A particular concern at the moment, given challenges posed by Brexit in the UK, trade sanctions in the US and general residual complications caused by the pandemic worldwide, supply chain analysts are natural problem-solvers, who identify solutions and opportunities to improve logistics and supply and demand issues.  

 

Sustainability officer 

Increasingly crucial to the success of luxury brands (and to the planet, of course), sustainability officers keep products and processes in check, and advise on better and more ethical means of production. 

 

Fashion psychologist  

Understanding consumer thinking and behavior can make or break a collection, and designers and brands are increasingly relying on the insights of a psychologist to shape their ideas.  

With so much innovation shaking up the industry, and 2020’s reset still making waves, a career in luxury has never seemed more exciting or lucrative. If you’re fascinated and intrigued, you’re not alone – Dr. Cattaneo is working hard to meet demand and introduce a new, dedicated course at César Ritz Colleges, catering to anyone interested in making it in luxury. 

“I’m starting with a series of masterclasses, which will be offered to all students this term, and I’m working on an immersive luxury experience, with company visits and distinguished guest speakers, to be launched in 2022,” she reveals. “Ultimately, I would like to develop programs at BA and master’s level, with a specific luxury focus.” 

And what lies beyond study? With the right tools, where could your career in luxury take you? 

“You could, of course, go down the typical route, and work for one of the big groups (LVMHKering or Richemont) but there are luxury start-ups to consider too, conquering niches in personalized cosmetics, sustainable accessories, hospitality and eco-tourism. The art world is also an interesting area to explore and luxury senior living is a booming market!”  

(Incidentally, you’d be well-prepared for the latter, given our focus on experiential learning: we cover training in senior living, and have students don a heavy suit to simulate the physical effects of aging, to give them an understanding of the community’s needs.) 

In any case, luxury is evolving – and it’s an evolution that’s been happening for a long time. Your future role might not even exist yet. 

“There was a shift from luxury products to luxury experiences in progress pre-pandemic, which has really taken hold post lockdown, as consumers are eager to travel again and combine relaxation or adventure with wellness,” Dr. Cattaneo says. “Virtual reality will be used more and more in hospitality to allow potential customers to ‘see’ and ‘try’ their experience before they book. There’s a real opportunity to make your mark.”   

And, finally, in case you’re wondering – what’s Dr. Cattaneo’s idea of luxury? 

“I’m a bit of a foodie,” she admits. “So fine dining is my luxury. I will be attending a number of Sapori Ticino events in the coming weeks.” 

Bon appétit! We’ll have the (sustainable) caviar please… 

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By Swiss Education Group