Other than the obvious, price, what separates a luxury brand from the merely-premium is the experience of shopping with the brand. Particularly the human-to-human part. "When Louis Vuitton advertised at his shop on Boulevard Haussmann that the Empress Eugenie was a customer, he was using social endorsement as a marketing strategy," notes Minter Dial, an expert on high-end branding and president/founder of The Myndset Company. (image)
Ditto Coco Chanel, who didn't let her background as a commoner get in the way of developing close ties within the elite Paris fashion community, which she (obviously) parlayed to stunning success. "Most creators still today have built their initial success by building strong relationships with a small community of clients in the show biz or fashion industry," continues Dial. "The key to the success of luxury brands has always been relationships."
Dial recommends luxury brands invest in building "intimate" relationships with, at a minimum, the very top 20% of clients. Particularly though the main point of human contact: the sales associates. How? by encouraging them to continue interacting with customers after a sale - regardless of whether online or IRL - by empowering them. Which brands are not doing. "There is a crisis of management in luxury, but it is not primarily in the executive suite - it is among the store manager ranks," agrees Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute. "Luxury brands need to attract, retain, educate and empower store managers to become a new breed of entrepreneur within the luxury brand."
While data-mining algorithms are certainly helpful for ascertaining patterns, learning about someone by interacting with them frequently is invaluable. And for sales associates to feel empowered in real time, luxury brands would do well to provide ongoing training, educate them in the ways and means of social media, support & upgrade digital assets, and employ sweet financial treats to properly-incentivize people into action.
Look for the resulting map of the luxury sphere to be increasingly characterized by "freedom with boundaries" that are both drawn and maintained by this new breed of luxury-employee-turned-local-entrepreneur.
- Lesley Scott
(image by Jessica Craig-Martin)
This post was about the Supremium fashion tribe - spendy, style-conscious fashionistas that enjoy jetsetting, globetrotting and shopping their way across the globe. For more of my posts about the Supremiums, CLICK HERE. To learn more about each of fashion's four mega-tribes that I track, START HERE.