Driving Luxury: Lessons from a Weekend with a Bentley Flying Spur

Driving Luxury: Lessons from a Weekend with a Bentley Flying Spur
2024 Bentley Flying Spur Speed W12 covered bridge

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I recently was an influencer for Bentley. As I entered the Bentley Paramus dealership, anticipation hung in the air. I wasn’t sure which vehicle they would entrust to me for the weekend, but as General Manager Terence McGouron led us to the back and pointed to the car, my jaw dropped in disbelief. There it was, a 2024 twin-turbo W12 powertrain Bentley Flying Spur, with a mere 98 miles on the odometer.

The car's appearance instantly caught my eye. It was Jet Stream in color. The wheels and grill were blacked out, which gave this nearly three-ton sedan a sleek and mysterious look. As we settled into the leather interior, the true essence of bespoke luxury was revealed. 


Terence spent about twenty minutes orienting me to the car's numerous features. That was important because customization is at the heart of every feature, with buttons and dials allowing you to tailor the settings to your preferences. The massage option alone boasted eight different settings, each one begging to be explored—which, of course, I did. 

With a price of $350K, this sedan was a level of craftsmanship I’d never experienced. The W12 is the end of an era as Bentley moves to all-electric by 2030. It can go 0-60 in three seconds. And yes, it is amazing.

To most people, the Bentley may look like just another luxury sedan. But that’s because the unparalleled craftsmanship of their vehicles defines understatement. These are drivers’ cars.

The Bentley Speed is not just a vehicle to get you there; it is a badge of identity for the luxury retail customer. Like skaters wear specific brands to signal affiliation with their group, Bentleys are symbols of status, much like $600 t-shirts or $10,000 watches. 

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But this isn’t a blog about cars. It is about luxury.

I’ve never driven a car to make other people happy. Yet that happened repeatedly across 800 miles of Pennsylvania and New York. It was as if passersby saw a unicorn, smiled, and had to pet it. 

Back to pricing. You won’t see a “friends and family” sale here. 

Let’s talk more about pricing for any retailer.

While some brands may benefit from offering discounts, it's important to be cautious, as frequent discounting can diminish the perceived value of the shopping experience. Constant promotions such as "on-sale" or "now lower priced" can make it challenging to compete with online giants like Temu and Shein, who often offer even lower prices.

The diverse range of price points in the stores I've collaborated with is strategic. Shoppers frequently choose to economize on certain items while indulging in more expensive purchases of others. The real profit lies in catering to those willing to spend more.

According to Placer.ai, with the resurgence of mall culture, the phrase "Malls are back" signifies a prime opportunity. Thus, updating the aesthetics of your storefronts becomes essential, from fixtures to walls, all of which are relatively easy to upgrade.

2024 Bentley W12 Flying Spur Speed in Jet Stream

Moreover, your brick-and-mortar locations provide a unique shopping experience, crucial for customers seeking to forge a distinct identity.

The Robb Report recently pointed out that Gen Z consumers are increasingly investing in luxury items, such as high-end watches, highlighting the current shopping trends. Watchfinder & Company's data reveals that over 41 percent of Gen Z shoppers have purchased a luxury mechanical watch this year alone.

The appetite for luxury continues to grow. 

To capitalize on this trend, it's vital to focus on converting window shoppers into actual buyers, particularly those with a penchant for luxury goods. Enhancing the customer experience and offering exclusive services can effectively shift the sales dynamic in your favor. Let's take a moment to reflect on how these insights can be integrated into your retail strategy.

What makes something Luxury 

Quality and Craftsmanship: Luxury brand items are often made from high-quality materials with exceptional craftsmanship. The attention to detail differentiates them from mass-produced items. These hand-quilted diamond pattern seats alone take over 24 hours to hand stitch.

Interior 2024 Bentley W12 Flying Spur Speed in Jet Stream

Customization: The ability to make the product your own by selecting the right color, material, or options helps the owner feel it is their creation, not someone else's. For example, I could align the passenger seat with the Driver's seat in the Bentley.

The Speed has four driving modes: Comfort, Custom, Bentley, and Speed. The comfort setting isolated us from the Pennsylvania potholes.

When I switched it to Sport, the W-12 exhaust changed to let you know the W12 beast was engaged as the suspension tightened. Take a listen below...

Exclusivity: Luxury brands often maintain a sense of rarity through limited production, unique designs, or through offering customized options. Bentley and Tiffany come to mind as brands that are consistently seen as marks of excellence. 

Brand Heritage and Prestige: Many luxury brands have a rich heritage and a long history of serving distinguished clientele. This history contributes to the brand's prestige and is often a significant part of the brand's narrative. Bentley innovations include Full LED matrix headlights. 

2024 Bentley W12 Flying Spur Speed in Jet Stream headlight detail

Aesthetic and Design: Luxury items frequently feature distinctive, often trend-setting designs. You can buy Bentley interiors in wood, carbon fiber, aluminum, and even stone.

Exceptional Service: High customer service levels, personalized experiences, and meticulous attention to consumer needs are hallmarks of luxury brands. These can include everything from customized shopping experiences to exclusive member benefits.

Marketing and Perception: How a brand markets and perceives itself in the marketplace significantly impacts its luxury status. Effective storytelling, maintenance of high brand value, and strategic marketing efforts are crucial.

How Luxury Is Crafted

When I worked with Omega timepieces, I learned that it isn’t uncommon for a master watchmaker to take nine months to complete one watch. Dozens of craftspeople and painstaking work often create the pride and heritage inherent to many brands customers covet.

The product then lands in a store, often where an associate treats it as stuff. Without passion and excitement, the merchandise sits, waiting.

A Closer Look at Tourneau's Madison Avenue Store

Before it was acquired years ago, I visited the Tourneau store on Madison Avenue. Reviews said this was “the” place to see the best in watch retailing. The showcases were all elevated, so you didn’t have to bend over to look inside. Brilliant.

After the greeting you’d find at a bargain store, “Can I help you?” and my requisite, “No, I'm just looking,” I was left alone to browse the beautiful display cases.

Tourneau watch store

And yet, most of the crew were leaning on the new counters while I and a few other guys were browsing. As I approached one counter, I fully expected the “salesperson” bewitched by their phone resting in their hand, to put it away and move out of my way.

Nope. He moved maybe eight inches, so oblivious that I had enough time to take out my phone and snap that picture. Geez. 

And sorry, don’t try to tell me that’s the ignorant snobbishness of luxury. No, this brand ambassador was waiting for someone to approach him and tell him what they wanted, and then he might snap back to reality. 

And these situations are prevalent in more and more retailers in 2024!

Your customers are waiting, too. They have been hoping the world news would turn positive and that they would not feel like Superman encountering Kryptonite daily, yet every morning, their social alerts tell them nothing has changed.

They come into your store hoping to feel like a Superhero again. 

In the old days, associates would be told the product was the hero, but since the pandemic, customers have become the heroes. They want to feel their purchase helps them become someone else.

What does it add to their toolbelt to help them get a gift that says, "I love you," nail a job promotion, navigate a city relocation, integrate into a new community, or adjust to retirement?

What they want is to feel better.

That can only happen when associates feel confident in their work in a store and understand that being brilliant at the basics is essential in the game of retail. 

In short, only heroes can sell to heroes.

That's why many luxury brands come to me to help them engage these wary shoppers.

Another Cold Shoulder of Luxury

I entered a luxury boutique in Manhattan in the cold of a bitter January winter. My teeth were chattering from the wind as I entered. The young woman said from across the counter, “Would you like a bottle of water?”

I thought to myself, out of the hundreds of things this person could have said to me at the moment, she either felt this was the very best or said the same thing every day, every month, every season.

I declined, and she watched me from afar with her hands behind her back in what I call a felon pose.

You are seriously mistaken if you think you can get away with that and get someone to spend $1000+ for a hoodie.

I can only guess she feels it's just a hoodie, like some jewelers feel it's just a watch, or, like some clothiers, it's just a suit. No, luxury is more than that. Respect the craftspeople. 

People noticed the Bentley Speed, like this young man attending Wrestlemania in Philadelphia that weekend. He had to get a picture of the Bentley in the custom suit he had made for himself.

2024 Bentley W12 Flying Spur Speed in Jet Stream

Check out my video 👇 for more details about this car and what makes something luxurious while I was returning it to Bentley Paramus.

When shoppers come to your store, you better be ready to sell them that new hero identity with associates who enjoy making Superheroes out of their customers.

Anything less, and you’ll be waiting around, hoping someone will come to your warehouse looking for precisely what you carry.


Five key takeaways for retailers to enhance your approach:

Subtle Luxury and Understated Excellence: Emphasize the subtle aspects of luxury, much like Bentley’s approach of combining understatement with high performance. This could mean focusing on your products' less obvious yet impactful features.

Customization and Personal Connection: Offer customization options that allow customers to personalize their purchases. This mirrors the experience with Bentley, where each aspect of the vehicle can be tailored to the owner’s preferences, making the product feel more personal and exclusive.

Brand Heritage: Utilize your brand’s heritage and story as a pivotal selling point. Luxury consumers value a rich history and the prestige that comes with it, much like the legacy of craftsmanship and innovation celebrated by Bentley and Omega.

Exceptional Customer Experience: Prioritize exceptional customer service and personalized interactions. As highlighted in the Bentley experience, from the greeting at the dealership to the detailed walkthrough of the car’s features, every touchpoint with the customer should feel you have time for them right now.

High Standards and Quality Assurance: Maintain the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship. The detailed description of Bentley’s craftsmanship, from the precision of the hand-stitched leather seats to the high-performance engineering, serves as a benchmark for luxury retailers to ensure that their products meet or exceed such standards.

Contact Bob here if you want to increase your brand's sales.

Bob Phibbs is globally recognized as one of the world’s top retail experts with a core focus on supporting brick-and-mortar merchants. He is the author of 3 retail books, routinely trains retailers to gain 20-50% more in sales, speaks worldwide to various retail decision-makers and across multiple retail categories, and is known for helping to accelerate success through selling, merchandising, and marketing strategies.