The growing desire for cultural connoisseurship is a trend we’ve been observing for over a decade, and which has wider implications for not only our clients but the wider luxury and culture landscape.

The culture of collectability is growing across the consumer spectrum, which could be a reaction to our lives getting faster, and a primal desire to slow things down. We are seeing deepening desires to collect, to discover, to explore a passion and develop one’s individuality through collecting. It’s about broadening knowledge, but it’s also about slow living, says Charlotte Heath-Bullock.

One would have to be living under a rock to avoid the rise and rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the benefits - and threats - it poses.  

Let’s start with the positives.  The potential is enormous.  The likes of Siri and Alexa have become a staple of daily life for many, although they have failed to become as indispensable as many predicted they would.  Now the tech world has moved onto AI chatbots, with ChatGPT, for example, able to handle far more complex tasks than voice assistants by recognising and generating text based on vast swathes of data found on the web.

Yet the introduction of AI is set to create the biggest shift in our society since the advent of the internet and the smartphone.  And whilst it comes with many pros, the synthetic 'fast content' created by AI could be compared to the fast fashion industry: churning out content of varying quality and largely unknown origin, and constantly vying for our attention.  

AI has also increased our already substantial need for instant gratification.  From online shopping to streaming services, it is making us ever more accustomed to getting what we want, when we want it while simultaneously reducing our tolerance for delays or slower-paced activities.

The result of this is a build up of social and business pressures, willing us to achieve more in less time and ultimately leading to the constant pursuit of productivity, with all the stress and burnout that creates, as we strive to deliver to unrealistic expectations.

In our work across our luxury brands and all collecting classes, we have become aware of, and attuned to, a new type of luxury consumer mindset that's the antithesis of this 'fast', AI-powered living.

It is a rebellion of sorts, with many choosing instead to embrace a slower-living movement. People are focusing on a more balanced, meaningful life, living with intent, purpose and values.  

It is not about doing more, faster, but instead about doing the right things, better.

In consumer terms this translates to - as Walpole British Luxury so regularly champions - buying less, and buying better. This is clearly seen in the mass wine and spirits industry where premium products are driving growth, with customers more focused on savouring the moment.

It helps us to appreciate the time and nuances of the world around us, making space for reflection and self-awareness.  The surge in popularity of mindfulness and self-care indicates that many of us seek a deeper connection to our surroundings, helping us to appreciate the simple pleasures of life.  Put simply: more and more people are acknowledging that faster isn’t always better.

We have long espoused the notion of cultural connoisseurship, especially as younger audiences embrace the desire to discover, to be different, and portray their individuality, as well as holding the ‘old guard’ to account in respect of the the natural and social environment. They no longer wish to just consume, but to collect or to participate.

At the heart of this is knowledge and learning, and through our work we strive to deepen our understanding of the vital role played by craftsmanship and the pursuit of excellence through artistry.  We have seen luxury brands embrace this ideal as they seek to share stories about the layers of expertise and attention to detail required to create an object of the highest quality; a narrative that isn’t exclusive to the global luxury industry.

Collectors and cultural connoisseurs actively engage with those brands that create using their genuine passion for history, heritage, quality, community and sustainability.  It is why Scotland’s distilleries have succeeded in creating a luxury brand sought after by multiple international markets, drawn to the rugged beauty of the country, the history of the distillery, and the long and painstaking process of crafting a rare, single malt whisky. The reason why high-age, ultra rare whiskies can achieve into the millions of pounds for bottle or collection. Bordeaux and Champagne vineyards have similar cachet.

Over the next few months we'll be sharing a series of articles that take a deeper look into new and established luxury brands and collectables, and how they are engaging with audiences of today and the future through shared values, experiences and an appreciation for the 'finer things in life' that goes beyond material accumulation.

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