Luxury Customer Experience Needs To Evolve

by Jeannie Walters

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It seems our tastes are becoming more pedestrian. At least that’s what the luxury brands are thinking.

According to this article in the Huffington Post, research is showing luxury customers are becoming increasingly less satisfied, seeking “intimacy, meaning, story, quality, provenance and a true sense of wonder”, according to Tom Savigar of The Future Laboratory.

What really got me, though, was this sentence:

In addition, figures from the Boston Consulting Group showed sales of luxury ‘experiences’ – from art auctions to spas – are growing 50% faster than sales of high-end goods, and will rise by 12% a year until 2014.

There is so much to consider around this. High-end goods are not as appealing as high-end experiences. If luxury brands don’t see the writing on the wall, they will quickly be replaced with mega box stores and cupcake vending machines.

Here’s where I believe luxury brands need to wake up:

1. According to the BCS quote and the article, experiences within luxury retail stores like “private” cocktail shopping experience parties for 200 people are old news. Intimate dinners are more en vogue. What about focusing on experience as an ongoing initiative instead of just events? Saks Fifth Avenue in Dallas created a unique shopping experience for ANYONE by creating a special space for appointment shopping.

2. Exclusive goods used to be valuable because they were difficult to obtain or even enjoy. Artwork, electronics, wine, even clothes were luxurious when they were inaccessible to most people. Now, thanks to the technology we carry in our pockets, we have access like never before. Luxury brands could use this technology in better ways. Luxury customers want that “true sense of wonder” and technology could help this. Consider what a branded wine-tasting app could do for a high-end wine maker. Tying the experience outside of the sale with the customer could make it meaningful and special. Hotels like the Wynn in Las Vegas love providing technology to open drapes and dim the lights, but what about tying the hotel guest to Vegas via personal technology after they leave? It seems most luxury brands are behind and customers are moving on without looking back.

3. Luxury cannot be marketing only. It seems another area where luxury is missing the connection with customers is community building. Tiffany owns the little blue box, but it has also done some impressive community building. In their True Love series on Facebook, they featured user-submitted photos and stories of real-life couples. While they have more than 3.2 million likes there, most of the posts BY Tiffany the brand are push marketing. Beautiful, yes, but lacking a sense of involvement from their fans. The fans, however, are so passionate about the brand they have commented, shared and enthused about the posts. I challenge the luxury brands to consider how to involve these types of customers as more than fans on social media. Invite them into a community that means something. Create intimacy. Reward the passion.

I am rooting for them, because I’m a fan and enjoy seeing a classic luxury brand box presented to me. 🙂 But I think it’s time to evolve.

What do you think? Are luxury brands here to stay?

Photo credit: Zurich via Creative Commons license

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, a Forbes Coaches Council Member, a C-Suite Network Advisor, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a TEDx speaker. Learn more here.

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