“Only 19 percent of consumers believe sales associates have relevant information,” says Adam Silverman, principal analyst at Forrester Research, San Francisco. “That’s very shocking and that’s clearly an indicator that the sales associate role needs to change.”
One way in which you can change that role is to perfect the art of telling luxury’s story. A good story engages and excites the listener. Stories create emotions and those emotions, in turn, drive desire. We buy luxury items not because we need them, but because we desire them.
Platinum is more expensive than gold because it is rarer. Similarly, a platinum level of service is more precious than the “gold standard” of service offered by most sales professionals. The Golden Rule states: “Treat other people as we would wish to be treated ourselves.” It is the rare sales professional, however, who knows and lives by the Platinum Rule: “Treat other people as they would wish to be treated.” The difference comes down to a small, but meaningful, change in perspective.
Let me start by apologizing to anyone who is expecting a definitive list of principles that define luxury. This post may leave you with more questions than answers. I ended the year 2014 with a few posts devoted to the very question of what luxury is. It seems I’m still on the same track now that the new year has arrived.
I just finished reading a recent LinkedIn post by Alan Crean, a self-described Subject Matter Expert in Professional Services Automation. The post is titled “Luxury Brands as a Professional Services Market.” It begins with a succinct summation of the luxury question I’ve been pondering. According to Crean:
There is no official definition of what constitutes a ‘luxury good.’
The month of December is traditionally one for giving and receiving gifts. It seems fitting then, as I try to select the perfect present, that I’ve spent most of the month addressing the question “What is Luxury?” (see “Is the term “luxury brand” overhyped?” and “More on What is Luxury?“).
We may have to leave the year with the question unanswered, or at the very least, we may have to settle for a paradox, according to a recent article in The Economist: “The Modern Luxury Industry Rests on a Paradox.”
I thought it fitting to wrap up the year with this article. It covers all aspects of the luxury question from many perspectives: age, geography, politics, world events, and social climate. Continue reading
My last post talked about educational institutions that now offer Luxury MBA degrees. This led to the question—what happens once you have such as degree? Interestingly, I just ran across an article from the Boston Consulting Group titled, “Minding the Talent Gap: Fashion and Luxury’s Greatest Challenge for the Next Decade.” The article reveals that luxury companies are struggling to find the right talent. What a perfect time to evaluate whether those Luxury MBA programs provide the same skills and knowledge that luxury and fashion brands seek today. For example, needed skills at the executive level are: analytical and creative skills; retail, product, and brand expertise; and international experience. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
After reading through the list, some of my key takeaways are:
- There is over saturation in the luxury sector. Brands will need to do an even better job of differentiating their products and services. Customer service, relationship building and social outreach are critical.
- Leaders must strive to inspire, empower, measure and reinforce best practices.
- It’s all about developing relationships, particularly across channels. (See my previous post What the Luxury Sales Associate Needs to Know in an Omni-Channel World).
Also, and very importantly, look for luxury brands to empower store sales associates who have multi-channel clients to reach out and build human relationships after the client purchases in any channel.
More and more luxury and fashion brands are using omni-channel retailing to maximize their brand exposure and increase purchasing opportunities for their customers. For omni-channel to work successfully, the brand message needs to be consistent across all consumer touch points, including in-store, online, mobile apps, social networking, etc. In order to deliver a seamless customer experience, sales associates will need a new level of training in technology, product and processes. Continue reading
Luxury has been defined as something that is pleasant to have or experience, but is not a necessity. The concepts of exclusivity and rarity can also factor into the definition of luxury. Value, on the other hand, is determined by the relation of price to perceived benefit. But if luxury is not a necessity, then how do we determine its value? Continue reading