“I don’t like the word ‘luxury,'” Tiffany CEO Alessandro Bogliolo said at Bloomberg’s The Year Ahead: Luxury Summit in New York City on Thursday. “Honestly, I try to avoid it.”
Bloomberg’s second luxury summit, which this year focused on sustainability in the luxury sector, drew power players in the industry such as Tiffany & Co. CEO Alessandro Bogliolo, Rent the Runway cofounder and CEO Jennifer Hyman, legendary architect Robert A.M. Stern, and Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America.
Bogliolo said he prefers the word “legendary” when talking about the jewelry company.
“I like to define Tiffany as a legendary brand because it’s a brand that really has become a legend,” he said.
Bogliolo is not the only executive in the luxury industry who’s opposed to the word “luxury.”
“If you define yourself as luxury, you’re not luxury,” Jacques-Olivier Chauvin, the CEO of Fauchon Hospitality, who previously worked at Louis Vuitton, told travel publication Skift earlier this year.
In fact, the word was banned at Louis Vuitton, Chauvin said.
“Sales people were not allowed to use that word,” he told Skift. “We wanted them to focus on creativity, legacy, quality.”
The concept of luxury seems to have an ever-changing definition these days. According to Boglioli, younger generations have a different approach to the concept of luxury than their older counterparts.
“I’m a baby boomer and when I was young, for me it was to buy a strong brand, a famous brand, and the beautiful product. That was it. There were no other questions,” he said at the Bloomberg summit. “Millennials, they have much more questions that come even before that. They want to know why Tiffany’s famous, what do they stand for, why should they go to them?”
Indeed, millennials are more selective with what they buy. For one thing, they’re more willing to spend more money on products that are good for the planet: A 2015 Nielsen poll found that 73% of millennials are willing to pay extra for sustainable products.
Millennials also prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than physical objects, Business Insider’s Hillary Hoffower reported, which is perhaps part of the reason why Tiffany has struggled to attract millennials.
Now, Tiffany seems to be considering going private. In October, the world’s largest luxury conglomerate, LVMH, offered to buy the jewelry company for roughly $14.5 billion, an offer Tiffany said was too low. But LVMH has upped its offer to $16 billion and gained access to Tiffany’s books, Reuters reported Thursday.
The jewelry giant’s CEO was tight-lipped about a potential deal at the Bloomberg event on Thursday. When asked about the deal, Boglioli evaded the questions by cracking jokes.
LVMH already has some stake in the jewelry sector. It owns French jeweler Chaumet, Swiss watchmakers TAG Heuer and Hublot, and Italian jewelry company Bulgari. Since LVMH bought Bulgari in 2011, sales at the Italian jeweler have more than doubled, according to the Washington Post.
But if LVMH were indeed to buy Tiffany, it would be LVMH’s largest acquisition ever — one might even say a legendary deal.