I first heard about this “affordable luxury” term when I bought my Nissan Altima GLE, with sun roof and leather seat, about 6 years ago. The Nissan salesman told me Altima is an “affordable luxury” car. By that he meant the car has the features I mentioned above, plus alloy wheel (looking good), and the price is affordable (MSRP $22015, I got it for $18789 after $1400 rebate).
In recent years I feel this affordable luxury concept has penetrated the consumer markets very well. Here are just a list of things I think can be applied this flag (I may update this list from time to time).
Youth Apparel: Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters, Aéropostale, and Urban Outfitters. To be honest, I can not tell too much difference among the “A” stores, but Urban is more for college kids because I felt back to fraternity once I visited store.
Grown-up Apparel: too many, my favorite is J. Crew, Banana Republic is not bad either.
Gadgets: Apple iPod and iPod nano, the Apple store in the mall is always full of people.
Computers: the new MacBook and MacBookPro, today I saw two people are using MacBook in Panera Bread Co., I am the only one using PC 🙁
Espresso and Latte: Starbucks (this thing is hot in China too)
Sports footwear: Nike is still the biggest, let me quote the saleman in Dick’s Sporting Good “Nike is the best marketing company in the world”. It seems in the US Adidas is not doing well although they got most star NBA players to endorse their shoes (Kevin Gannet, Tim Duncun, Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas), they should beat Nike’s Lebron James.
Cars: affordable – CamCord; luxury – BMW, Lexus and MB
Lunch: Panera Bread (could someone add more here?)
Dinner: Olive Garden, California Pizza Kitchen (in China it would be Pizza Hut)
Home Entertainment: HDTV
Home Improvement: IKEA (same in Shanghai)
Game console: Wii, PS3, Xbox 360 (I don’t play games so take your own pick)
Colleges: Washington Univ in St. Louis (well, since not everyone can go to Harvard)