Creating content for the luxury market

Josh Spero, editor of wealth management magazine Spear’s, says the smart way to position content for a high-net-worth audience is to look for the story, not be dazzled by the surface

Spear’s does not publish luxury pornography. There is a place for it – hungry photos of absurdly expensive fridges or helicopters, copy slavering over the exorbitant thread count of sheets, a splurge of hideous adjectives to disguise the fact that you’re writing about something essentially vacuous. Plenty of people do that – but not us.

That sort of writing about the luxury market is the least interesting kind because all it requires is a thesaurus and a lack of imagination. Great stories about luxury – in Spear’s and anywhere else – are about the business of luxury, the trends, movements, movers, shakers, developments and controversies of luxury. In short, they are stories: real journalistic stories.

Spear’s is privileged to have in the pages of each issue two of the best writers on the luxury market and its component industries, leaders and products: John Arlidge and Lucia van der Post. Both treat the luxury industries not as dispensers of pricey bonbons but as serious subjects for study, where commerce, art, craft and money meet.

John might interview Sir Richard Branson about his new chain of hotels or the head of Etihad Airways about how he’s moving his airline up-market. Lucia has written about the revival of a languishing British fashion label and how luxury retail outlets are coming to China . All of these are stories that belong in the serious pages of any magazine or newspaper.

These are not just the sort of stories that I like to be pitched (anything facile or fickle is quickly rejected) but they work well in most media today because they treat something that is superficially light with intelligence and dignity and journalistic nous. So forget your pitch about diamond-covered crumpets and start thinking about one which examines where those diamonds come from or which market they’re selling, to or even why there’s a rash of stupid products covered in diamonds. That I’d read.

Ultimately, to avoid ending up with luxury pornography when you want smart luxury, the editor and the writer need to communicate about the content – that’s the only way to keep those diamond-covered crumpets where they belong.

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