Your formula for #Luxury had better include #Quality
(by Joan Mansbach for Luxe Trends)
Much the way the word love is bandied around losing its intended significance, luxury, too, is rapidly becoming a handle rather than a definitive with significance. Just because a vendor believes his product to be true luxury does not a quality product make. The over the top price tag had better come with finite construction, attention to detail and the inherent assurance stitches won’t open, cashmere won’t pill, soles will not come apart, fabric won’t fray and so on. After all, the goal of luxury retail stores is convincing people to pay top dollar for their products. To do this, luxury stores use a variety of merchandising techniques to build an aura of prestige, glamour and opulence for their brand. These techniques build confidence in the quality of the products and the brand, and convince customers that paying more for luxury products are worth it.
No doubt we live in a world of luxury intoxication, where the lines between real and the ersatz are often blurred. Unfortunately for the high end consumer disappointment is eking its way toward the norm when it comes to goods delivering on the promise of unmatched quality. At Influence, when we work with a client we stress the importance of delivering on the promise and expectation of quality.
Do you recall the film, “Network,” when Howard Beale, masterfully portrayed by Peter Finch, shouted “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore?” That phrase should be part of our lexicon. All too often we shy away from reporting back or returning items that just don’t hold up. This happens because people with large amounts of disposable income often have low amounts of disposable time.
Focusing on the Consumer Experience
It is understandable that returning an item is bothersome and time consuming. However, if we relax our standards of acceptability, the standards of quality will diminish as well. Along with professing products of superior quality, purveyors of true luxury goods strive for and promote a high touch image. It behooves us as consumers to put that image to the test and if we are not truly satisfied and the quality of the product does not endure, we certainly should voice our displeasure.
For the upscale purchaser, the goods are more important than the experience. Yes, there is decided pleasure in going to a fine, haute boutique and walking out with a handsomely branded shopping bag. But those stores that were once the locus of luxury no longer corner the market. Genuine high-end goods are as close as a click within the convenience and confines of home.
If luxury goods manufacturers want to maintain a hard fought reputation and high-touch service, cutting corners is not an option and a renaissance of superior quality must prevail. With the onslaught of lower price lines, discount flash sales, and the plague of counterfeit merchandise, quality perception and reality is on slippery slope in general. Add to that the fact it is now easier than ever to part with a brand or store, the ability to click off or unsubscribe should be viewed as a white elephant to be reckoned with at all times.
Giving your customers a reason to be dissatisfied after taking their money is not a smart customer relationship tactic. The digital age has literally transformed the way customers shop and share their experiences. After the sale is complete, purchasers use the same digital channels to name and shame those that disappoint. There’s nothing like some hard core negative comments shared on social media to serve as the kiss of death for a brand.
On the other side of the coin, customer experience should be used smartly to build loyalty and advocacy. Today’s technologies offer fresh opportunities to increase the relevance of your products and services. Taking ownership of engaging the customer with quality products and stand out service should be a key element in any marketing and sales strategy.
Getting It Right
Who doesn’t appreciate feeling indulged and gratified? Be it the top 1% purchaser or the middle of the road shopper, quality is never under-appreciated. Let’s borrow a page from those who understand the intrinsic value of gaining and maintaining customers by delivering consistent quality.
In the hospitality industry, price is not a key factor in repeat booking for the luxury guest.
The look and feel of the hotel is crucial but responsive employees and their ability to solve problems is far more important. The Ritz-Carlton offers superior luxury and creature comforts and continues to differentiate with an unsurpassed level of service. The hotel’s top ranking and numerous awards attest to that.
When it comes to fragrance, Serge Lutens was one of the first to bring the trend back to Haute Parfumerie in the ’90s. The top floor fragrances at Hermès are always the best their “nose” can make, designed to encompass the codes of the brand and its universe. Ormonde Jayne fragrances, redolent with high floral oil content, deliver excellence from product to package. Thierry Mugler Parfums are noted for scent innovation and customer relationship programs that foster loyalty.
Fratelli Rossetti, one of the leading made-in-Italy luxury shoe producers, famous for its designs and craftsmanship, practice their motto “the quest for quality is fundamental.” From Lexus in its class to Kia in its category, (now ranked highest brand in the industry), the quality concept is like math equations on a test. Get it right and you score high.
Ask yourself how satisfied would you be with your end product? To deliver impeccable quality consistently there must be an ongoing checks and balances system. If ever there is an issue, resolve it with world class service and learn from any mistakes.
Simoudis Image Design develops brand identity, brand strategy and digital marketing programs for luxury and prestige brands. Our publication, Luxe Trends, provides expert Monitoring, Analysis and Curation of the Luxury industry.