Traditionally, luxury brands have been viewed as an enviable, elusive, and somewhat mysterious segment of the retail industry – a world apart, and out of reach. Only an exclusive few had access to them, and whatever dealings transpired in the hallowed halls of luxury shops and boutiques – none were the wiser, except the few they catered to.
However, time has gone by and technology has evolved in leaps and bounds, so the luxury industry cannot remain immune to the changes that have taken place.
And although luxury brands maintain their commitment to using the best materials and highest quality craftsmanship, the luxury model has undergone some dramatic shifts. It has taken a cue from the success of other industries that have focused on relationship-based customer experiences.
So instead of solely focusing on the products you offer, you need to shift your attention to enriching the customer experience, especially if you also cater to millennials. Luxury, now, is in the details – not just in terms the product, but also in the encounter.
You have to know what makes your customers feel special. It’s no longer just about the exclusivity, or about the number of people who have access to your product. It’s more about paying attention to the relationships you build with three types of people – influencers, your employees, and customers.
1. Know your high-profile influencers
Luxury brands are known for shying away from using social media to market their products. The fear, of course, is that working with such an accessible platform would make them vulnerable to losing control of their image.
This is where your relationships with key industry influencers become especially beneficial. Nothing speaks luxury more than having a loyal following from celebrities who are willing to endorse your brand, and who sincerely believe in what it stands for. So, make a point to connect with people you know can add value to your brand image.
By building and nurturing your celebrity connections, you have access to possible sources of endorsements on relevant social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube. What's more, catering to, and building partnerships with an influential base can garner your company industry-relevant social media attention.
2. Take good care of your people
Put your people first. This applies not only to the luxury brand sector but to all types of business.
Remember, your employees are also your brand ambassadors. Since what you are selling is not just a product but an entire lifestyle, it makes sense to give your employees a taste of the VIP life – at least, as far as their employment is concerned.
By providing them excellent working conditions, incentives, perks, and making them feel empowered, you also instil confidence, passion, focus, enthusiasm, and a strong commitment to your brand.
Moreover, by keeping communication lines open, and promoting a culture of excellence and appreciation, you are encouraging your people to make their contributions to the growth of your company. And, you know what they say, happy employees are passionate, productive employees.
These are all key ingredients to your success as a brand if they are to uphold standards designed to elevate the experience of each one of your customers.
By engaging your own people, you can count on them to add a special touch to their encounters with old and prospective customers. They will take the time to know and understand the pain points or needs of each customer, make a note of these, and use this information to give relevant suggestions which can make a real difference to your bottom line.
3. Customise the customer experience
Keeping luxury customers interested, engaged, and loyal to your brand is an elaborate process, and yet a relatively easy one to get right. Quality products with a high level of craftsmanship, the best materials, celebrity endorsements, and great customer service – all of these combined make for a pleasant customer journey.
But the real clincher is the kind of relationship you nurture exclusively with each and every customer that enters your shop doors – wherever this may be: Milan, New York, Paris, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Doha, Mumbai – you get the gist. There’s consistency in the level of service, and a seamless customer experience, so wherever they go, they can pick up exactly where they left off.
Don’t forget the role of digital platforms
Beyond personalised experiences, digital media, such as appointment-setting sites, are now available to help enhance the customer journey. Customers now, quite literally, can schedule their personal luxury shopping remotely.
Through these digital platforms, luxury brand customers (or their assistants) can conveniently set up appointments with select shops or boutiques from wherever they are – whether seated poolside in Bali, or out on a ski trip at the Swiss Alps – they can have a scheduled visit finalised with a shop or brand of their choosing in any one of their locations across the world.
Harness both the personal and the digital
Even if you have niche, high-end product, there's no excuse for not harnessing the benefits of digital technology whilst nurturing your personal relationships with the people that matter.
With all of this at your disposal, the only way is up for your luxury retail business.