So what makes a luxury brand so desirable?
Why Cartier?…… Why Hermes?…….. Why Chanel?……..
The very essence of luxury to some is taken as unattainable, only available to the few not the masses. To the luxury consumer, that underlines a key asset they acquire through luxury, a real point of difference.
In my experience, there are several key elements which all need to combine to place your product or service in an arena where its desire factor takes off exponentially. Where people are driven to seek you out and ask for you by name.
Performance – The critical factor
When the technology is cutting edge, the ingredients are unique and true craftsmanship has taken over. Your product will perform way beyond traditional expectation and therefore delight your consumer who will then come back time and time again. For some it’s intangible …..“when you purchase something of really high quality, you can feel the difference, it’s in the touch, the smoothness………., I can’t put my finger on it, it’s just better”…….. Performance is most definitely in the detail, it’s the little things that make all the difference.
Pricing plays an integral role in the perception of brand value. Consumers know you can’t pay a little and get a lot. There’s a comfort gained by paying a little more than usual, reassuringly expensive, some might say. If you want your consumer to perceive high quality, you need to adopt a pricing strategy that reflects this position. British Airways and Easyjet may fly to the same destinations, however one commands a premium we are more than happy to pay. I’ve heard many stylists say they are the best, yet seldom have they got the confidence to charge for the best.
An element of heritage to your product underlines a longevity which is highly prized by the luxury purchaser. Alterna’s Caviar Anti-Aging collection has benefited by the utilization of the key ingredient Caviar Extract. Caviar has a heritage that creates an image in the mind’s eye of luxury.
Exclusivity helps establish a position of elusiveness, unavailable, unattainable which stimulates the desire of a “must have”. By association, being seen at the right places, the right events, garners a level of desire. We subliminally notice luxury, for example I’m sure you know which sponsor provides the time pieces at Wimbledon? At Alterna, we frequently get asked who else sells your products. Having an A-List Salon customer profile helps us drives the message home, we are really proud of our clients.
Celebrities and public figures have been over used in recent years. I’m sure it works for some markets but for the luxury market any connection needs to be credible. The public perception of any “Celebrity” connection has to resonate with the consumer, does the person fit the brand? Does what is being said by the figurehead sound probable/realistic? Katie Holmes, once one of the numerous celebrity fans of Alterna has now become a co-owner of Alterna, her connection to Bobbi Brown cosmetics and her fashion venture “Holmes & Yang” has given real credibility to her iconic beauty/fashion industry status. At the Donna Karan’s 30th Anniversary fashion show for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, “Stealing most of the limelight was Katie Holmes, 35, who looked stunning in a black leather ensemble”. This is great news for any brand associated with her.
On reflection, you have clients visiting your salon that won’t buy certain products or services from you because what you offer doesn’t meet the criteria above. Whenever I ask salon stylists why their clients don’t buy products from the salon, most stylists take the view that our customers don’t buy our products because they are too expensive. It may surprize you to discover that anywhere between 20-30% of your customers are in fact trading up because what you sell is not expensive enough?
Why should I invest in bringing luxury into my salon?
There is a loyalty to luxury which is driven by performance, this loyalty delivers a return to your business which cannot be ignored. Take a brand like Mercedes, you’ll find that if you have a Mercedes today, the first place you go to get your next car is a Mercedes garage. Performance gains loyalty more than any other commodity for the luxury consumer. Until I find something that is better I’m staying with Mercedes………
In conclusion, our industry, our profits, our columns, our business is built on repeat purchase and referrals, clients visiting our salons, using our services, buying our products and recommending us to their families and friends continuously. Our salon teams need inspiring, not with mediocre but with excellence……with LUXURY……