Luxury Institute’s Seven Trends Shaping Luxury in 2015

Following is a link to the seven trLuxuryInstitute_Logo_taglnends the Luxury Institute forecasts for 2015:

Click here to view the Luxury Institute’s Seven Trends Shaping Luxury in 2015.

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.




What the Luxury Sales Associate Needs to Know in an Omni-Channel World

omnichannelMore 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 “What the Luxury Sales Associate Needs to Know in an Omni-Channel World”

The Value of Luxury

auction-paddle-2Luxury 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 “The Value of Luxury”

Service en pointe!

JWM Breathe
Photo courtesy of

Your next room service order at JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts may be delivered with a pirouette. The luxury hotel brand is partnering with The Joffrey Ballet to train employees in basic ballet movements to improve their grace. Extraordinary idea! When I’ve done training with luxury sales teams, I’ve emphasized that everything they say and do should be done with both elegance and grace. I can think of no more perfect metaphor for elegance and grace than the ballet dancer.

The program, “Poise and Grace,” is a series of inspirational video training tutorials led by Ashley Wheater, artistic director of The Joffrey Ballet. In the video below, Mr. Wheater talks about how we can use “everyday choreography” to create poise in our bodies. He says, “Dancers, through their training and through their exercises, [they] embody grace.”

As a brand partner, Mr. Wheater worked together with JW Marriott to identify the four core behaviors that help dancers embody poise and grace:

  1. Warming Up
  2. Proper Breathing
  3. Flow of Movement
  4. Connecting to the Audience

The exercises take between 5 to 15 minutes to perform. They focus on posture, eye contact, and the use of specific gestures to create an air of confidence and discipline. Vice president and global brand manager of JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Mitzi Gaskins, says:

Poise and posture are globally recognized cultural cues that reflect the care and dedication our associates provide in every service interaction.

By training their associates to  interact with customers with poise and grace will elevate the JW Marriott’s luxury service experience to another level. In ballet terms, that’s an elevé we should all try to reach.

For more details on the “Poise and Grace” program, click this link: Marriott News.

Securing the Sale: What Should Luxury Retail Security Look Like?

Security-guardLast week I visited a well-known electronics retailer to purchase a new tablet. The battery on my own tablet was no longer holding a charge and I thought I’d try some of the new models. I visited this specific retailer knowing they had various test models on display.  Of course, the devices were cabled to the display stands to prevent pilfering—this makes sense. However, as I picked up a test model an alarm went off. It wasn’t loud enough to be heard throughout the store, but it was loud enough to be annoying. I spotted a salesperson and asked for assistance. Her reply was that she wasn’t authorized to disable the alarm and I would have to wait for a tech person.  After a few minutes a tech person arrived and shut off the alarm. He warned me, however, the alarm was quite sensitive and would probably go off again. He suggested I visit another area in the store dedicated to that manufacturer. I waited there approximately 10 minutes as the single salesperson assisted another customer. Frustrated, I returned to the original display and picked up a different model tablet. Guess what?  More alarms! I left the store.

Continue reading “Securing the Sale: What Should Luxury Retail Security Look Like?”

Ditch the Pitch! Lose the Sales Script and Gain Authenticity

no-sales-pitchWhen developing sales training, I’m occasionally asked to write scripts for the sales representatives. Thankfully, I’ve been successful advocating for a better approach. My sales training classes are highly interactive and involve role plays  that challenge learners to think on their feet. In other words, the goal is to develop better sales associates by instilling critical thinking skills. Continue reading “Ditch the Pitch! Lose the Sales Script and Gain Authenticity”

Make sure your online customers are happy before you try to wow them.

online_shoppingIn Michiel Gasterlaand’s article “The Secret to Winning the Customer Service Battle in eCommerce” in Entrepeneur, he states that only 1% of web store customers feel their expectations are being met. Web stores are missing the opportunity to differentiate themselves through customer service. Gasterlaand writes:

Whether they realize it or not, web stores now are competing primarily on customer service. Apart from offering a great product for a great price, customer service clearly is the new battleground.

Continue reading “Make sure your online customers are happy before you try to wow them.”

Do your salespeople really understand the luxury perspective?

Ritz-Carlton ServiceWhen I was at BMW, we designed a training program for the dealers that required them to stay at a Ritz-Carlton hotel. What the dealers experienced as Ritz-Carlton customers became the basis for their learning. We realized we had been asking dealers to deliver a luxury experience to BMW customers without them fully understanding what that meant. After their Ritz-Carlton stay, the dealers were able to articulate their expectations as luxury consumers, and in turn, they successfully translated that experience to their own customers. Training Magazine has just posted an article about a similar learning program conducted by the Turkish luxury supermarket brand Migros, entitled “Migros’ Luxury Perspective.”

The Migros’ training program was conducted in two phases: first was an in-class session, followed by a second phase that included a a trip to New York and London. According to the article:

The program includes competitor analyses, shopping experiences in luxury stores, experience sharing from world-famous luxury brand sellers, a session of listening to expectations from luxury customers, eating in luxury restaurants, staying in luxury hotels, and many other lifestyle experiences.

The entire experience was designed to help associates get “closer to the customers in terms of general culture and experience.” The result was an increase in customer loyalty from 6% to 15%,

What are you doing to help your sales associates better understand the luxury experience you’re asking them to deliver?

“What’s it to you?” – Igniting Customer Desire

matchWhat’s it to me? Everything! If you can’t articulate why your product or service is important to me, you’ll likely not win me as a customer. Very often sales associates try to differentiate themselves by becoming subject matter experts. They then overwhelm potential clients with a litany of facts and product features with no regard for what’s actually important to the customer. In other words, what is the benefit to the customer?

Being able to distinguish between a feature (a statement of value) and a benefit (a personalized statement of value) is the key to igniting customer desire. When purchasing a luxury service or product, it’s less about need than it is about desire—and desire is emotion based. That means in order to tie into the emotion that will create desire, you need to position not only the value of your product or service, but its value to your customer. Continue reading ““What’s it to you?” – Igniting Customer Desire”