Back in October I posted a blog entry titled: “Should Sales Training Differ for Luxury Brands?” The post generated quite a bit of discussion around whether the luxury customer’s higher expectations for service required a different level of training for sales associates. Now it seems educational institutions are beginning to recognize the luxury sector as an industry that demands a specialized curriculum.
Individuals looking to succeed in the luxury and prestige sectors need a specific kind of business expertise. The selling and marketing of luxury products and services presents a number of unique challenges, including understanding the nature of the target market, establishing a strong relationship with customers, translating the brand message in an omni-channel environment, curating the luxury experience, and navigating global distribution systems.
The Globe and Mail’s article “Luxury training becomes fashionable MBA accessory“ follows one student, Christal Agostino, who was pursuing her MBA a few years ago. Her classroom was the Hermès boutique in Paris. What Ms. Agostino focused on was how the sales associates interacted with their customers. As she discovered, “Nothing was done haphazardly.”
Nothing was done haphazardly.
According to Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of the Luxury Institute, there’s a growing need for specialized training in the luxury sector. “Luxury is different from mainstream retail – the level of design, the level of quality, the level of relationship-building are all much higher than any other business segments,” Mr. Pedraza says.
Luxury is different from mainstream retail – the level of design, the level of quality, the level of relationship-building are all much higher than any other business segments.
Below is a sampling of some of the institutions offering higher-level education courses and MBAs in luxury retail management:
- Luxury Connect Business School
- IFA Paris in Paris, France and Shanghai, China
- Istituto marangoni in London, UK
- Bologna Business School in Bologna, Italy
- International University of Monaco
- NYU Stern Business School in New York
- HEC in Paris, France
- Regent’s University in London, UK
- Fondazione CUOA in Venice, Italy
- NC State University’s Jenkins Graduate School of Management in Raleigh, NC and Paris, France
- There’s even an online Coursera course in “Managing Fashion and Luxury Companies”
I believe the formalization of education in the luxury sector strengthens the argument that sales training for luxury brands needs to be specialized and distinctive.