#Opinion

Luxury Market Has Never Been As Unforgiving As It Is Now! Lessons Learnt From Luxury Retail

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Lessons in Luxury Retail: My extensive experience in the luxury market in India has given me many insights, which helped me understand how the wheels of retail remain in faultless motion and what triggers the inadvertent tripping too. Here are the five prerequisites of what to expect and heed.

Design and Details

Luxury is aspirational. A fine line divides the ‘need’ and ‘want’ aspect of purchase and while all basic essentials are what we need, what we want, is defined by the extraordinary. Hence identifying the right design language of the merchandise is integral. A language that is original and cohesive and also resonates with the brand ideology.  Product design is the backbone of the brand and God is always in the details. The underside or the reverse of the products is always as important as the front. Just like the Mughal art of jewellery making where delicate enameling was always on the reverse of the piece, not visible to anyone but the wearer. Packaging of luxury products is of prime concern too as that is where the initial impact of the product rests. Nothing compares with the joy of owning or receiving a beautifully packaged piece. It is the start point for ‘want.’

Product design is the backbone of the brand and God is always in the details.

Visibility

In the current times of retail explosion where everyone is trying for a piece of the same pie, the same luxury market, it is imperative to create a narrative that cuts through the clutter and stands apart from the milieu. Being seen or heard has never been as vital as it is now. High brands should consider a cross-pollination strategy of collaborating with appropriate other brands, events or individuals who can amplify the outreach, visibility and eventual sales. The voice that is heard should be of persistent consistency.

Consumer Satisfaction

Never has the luxury market been as exacting and as unforgiving as it is now! With most brands elevating their presence to bring in their A-game, the scope for errors remain few and far between. Retaining the customer is a skill that must be honed. In India business is maximised with relationship building. Making the customer feel special by placing him/her front and center with gentle yet nuanced assistance is something that should be inculcated. Maintaining a KYC of sorts, understanding clients’ preferences and keeping it ready in memory for quick access when needed, taking a step beyond to know them better, grasp their body language to formulate appropriate communication and be available to address any grievances or after sales services, all go a long way in sealing the rapport and keeping the customer comfortable. Simple things like whether the client likes his coffee noir or with latte, with or without sugar, which chair he/she prefers, an idea of the spend, all as ready reckoners, without having to ask repeatedly, go a long way in sealing a special relationship.

 Experiential & Bespoke

There is growing need for every individual to be seen or heard more than ever! And particularly so for the luxury shopper. True luxury is really what you can have which no one else can. So personalised and bespoke services for creating something special for the customer now takes center stage. Luxury brands must have the bandwidth to walk the extra mile and curate a distinct shopping experience with quick turnarounds of ideas and suggestions to create specially for them. And this exclusivity is something that must be adhered to, at any cost. Let the customer owns his/her design with a personal stamp of feeling gratified at having created a bespoke piece. This also creates a unique chemistry between the brand and the customer, almost like a secret while the process of creating is ongoing and the Aha! moment when it is complete and revealed to the world. This bond of intimacy is defined by trust and utmost caution is needed to preserve it because much like marriage, you break, you lose.

Lessons in Luxury Retail: Luxury brands must have the bandwidth to walk the extra mile and curate a distinct shopping experience with quick turnarounds of ideas and suggestions to create specially for them.

Pricing

Today’s customers are well exposed to the global community of luxury. They are smart buyers and quick to make comparisons. Smart pricing is the name of the game. The market is flooded with price competitive options and it is crucial for the brands to not out price themselves. A clever strategy is to maintain moderate prices across board and bring out limited editions periodically, which obviously command a higher price point. This helps in keeping a premium on exclusivity and luxury after all is like selling a dream. And last but not the least, everyone loves a ‘good deal.’ Nothing is more delightful than the feeling of having purchased something at a special price. And luxury brands in India must pay heed because often this is where the balance can tilt.

Archana Kumari Singh is the Founder of House of Badnore. The views expressed are the author’s own.