The Biology of Luxury

Just as some birds' brightly colored plumage signals strength and fitness, luxury goods can provide a competitive advantage by relaying a message of economic health. Likewise, rising luxury-goods sales may indicate a brighter economic future for a country, making it a good bet for investors.

PARIS – Despite the global economic crisis, sales of luxury goods are surging worldwide. Why? While marketing has contributed to the rise, the luxury market’s robust growth is actually rooted in biology.

Discussions about the structure of human thought have long been dominated by the Enlightenment view that reality is composed of four elements: space, time, matter, and energy. But recently, a fifth element, information, has entered the debate. And information, it turns out, is crucial to understanding the fundamental drivers of luxury-goods consumption, and thus to predicting the luxury market’s future.

Living organisms communicate, and the information that they exchange shapes their reality. While animals use colorful displays and complicated behaviors to signal fitness and strength, humans use luxury goods to demonstrate economic health.

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