Luxury, Enjoyment and Evolution – M.S. Srinivasan

common_akelei_flower_blueLuxury industry has become a booming money-spinner. Catering to the wealthy with branded products like jewellery, scents and other things, this sector has become a multi-billion dollar business. This article examines the concept and business of luxury in a developmental perspective and its implications for our higher evolution.

Luxury and Enjoyment

Let us examine in a deeper, wider perspective what is the human need behind the business of luxury. According to ancient Indian thought every human beings has four basic needs: Atha, which means wealth or economics and material needs: Kama is the need for enjoyment; Dharma is the mental and moral need for ethics, values, ideals or knowledge; Moksha is the spiritual need for inner liberation or self-realisation. When our basic material needs of Aratha are reasonably fulfilled, we seek for a better enjoyment of life. Luxury belongs to the domain of Kama, enjoyment; they are instruments of enjoyment.

But what is luxury is something relative and changing; it depends on affordability. Motor; was a luxury before Ford made it into a necessity by making it affordable to the common man. Telephone was a luxury in India before mobile came, which now even a beggar has! This will happen constantly and with increasing frequency in the future. Rapid progress in technology, management and marketing will convert luxury into commodities.

Enjoyment and Evolution

If we accept enjoyment as a legitimate need of human beings in their evolutionary progress, then we cannot condemn luxury as a pastime of the rich. However there are two types of enjoyment. First is the gross, sensuous enjoyment, which when not restrained by the higher values of Dharma, degenerates into greed and degrades the soul. Second is the higher aesthetic enjoyment of life, governed by the values of beauty and harmony, which refines and uplifts our sensations, mind and heart and make them receptive to our spiritual self or in other words helps in our higher evolution. This aesthetic refinement and enjoyment of life is perhaps the higher aim of luxury.

We are at present moving towards what many management gurus call as “experience economy.” In this emerging, more subjective economy, what the customer feels or experiences of a product is more important than the product as such. Those companies which are able to provide a meaningful, fulfilling and holistic experience to the customer through the entire product-cycle from buying to service and long use, will gain competitive advantage over others who are not able to do.

This is the new gospel of marketing. For the luxury industry, the higher aim could be to elevate the experience from the sensuous to the aesthetic level by creating an environment of wholesome beauty and harmony through the entire product cycle.

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