Why startups should idolise luxury brands.

The worlds of startups and high-end luxury goods may seem to be diametrically opposed — one is concerned with rapidly advancing humanity through capitalising on the latest technological progress, whereas the other uses techniques that have been practiced for hundreds of years to produce non-essential products that contribute little to a person’s life.

On the surface, the idea of luxury seems quite simple; a product or service which is at the pinnacle of quality, craftsmanship and pedigree. But the notion that someone would opt to pay many, many times more for a product which essentially provides the same service as something much cheaper seems almost ludicrous when you think about it. Doesn’t it?

The idea that someone would choose to pay several thousand pounds or dollars for something which will hold their wallet, or something which tells the same time as their phone, or something that goes on their feet to get them from A to B, when identical functionality can be had for thousands of times less, is insane in abstract.

But it’s only through rational thought that luxury (and its relevance to startups) can be understood.

A craftswoman assembles a bag at the Louis Vuitton Series 3 exhibition in London

People purchase luxury goods not because they do a job, but because of the way they make them feel.

Nobody needs a $1,000 wallet, but owning one is about experiencing something more than having somewhere to put your bank notes and loyalty cards.

There’s something about the whole experience, from first walking into the store, through to the transaction, the departure, the frantically driving home, the undoing of the ribbon that holds the sides of the bag together, the opening of the box and removing of tissue paper to reveal something that was made by hand by someone in a faraway country from a material worth more per gram than gold, that makes you feel good.

And that feeling stays with you. Every time you take out your wallet to pay for something, a little bit of that feeling reoccurs, gives you a kick of dopamine straight to the brain.

And that’s what we need to strive for when we build our products and work on our startups. To create end-to-end events so magical that our users can’t help themselves but come back for more.

To achieve perfection, we must create the same feeling that luxury brands create, regardless of our product.

I don’t care if you’re making dishwasher soap or dynamic hosting solutions, the experience you provide must be as if your customer is buying a luxury good.

The only way to keep people coming back to your product is to provide an incredible experience.

Your users and customers will come back in droves if purchasing your product makes them feel good and if using your product reminds them of an experience.

If every time a user orders a cab, shares a photo with friends, or alters the temperature on their thermostat, they feel a sense of excitement, of joy, then you have a killer product.

It doesn’t matter so much about how it was made, or where it was made, or whether the product is really any good, it’s all about the feeling.

By creating an environment where a user is bound to feel something pleasurable, you lock them in to the cycle of wanting that feeling all over again. That’s what luxury brands do with luxury goods, they create incredible experiences that excite customers and make them become addicts, craving that rush.

Do this right, and instead of worrying about how to get users or customers, you have to start to worrying about how to keep giving them that feeling all over again.

And that’s a worry worth having.

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