How To Regain And Keep Your Luxury Brand Legacy From Fading

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The finest wools and cotton for luxury fashion brands are farmed from centuries-old farms, carded and woven in centuries-old buildings with meticulous craftspeople who refuse to let even the slightest flaw go out of their hands and into the market.

Several ateliers of the great fashion brands in Europe have worked for 40 or more years safeguarding the legacy of their design houses.

That’s how luxury gets to be luxury.

Exacting standards.

Exacting details.

Exacting messaging.

Generations of exacting professionals.

There is a story that while the Germans invented watches, the Swiss farmers and peasants whiled away their winter months by making watch components.

With no electricity, the watchmakers’ workrooms faced the south, where they could get the most light. You could tell when a watchmaker added an apprentice or workman by the appearance of a new window on their building. The Swiss built and nurtured many luxury watch companies as meticulous skills were passed from generation to generation.

Yet in a recent survey, 40% of Swiss watch executives are pessimistic about the sector’s economic outlook after an unprecedented post-pandemic upturn.

Most U.S. luxury buyers research watch and jewelry products online before purchasing.

However, much of the research diverts consumers to gray market sites.

As luxury brands try to adapt to an omnichannel world, people are willing to forego authenticity for an online price. And don’t forget Amazon is gaining in the luxury market.  

Luxury retailers must change their service model if they seriously hope to compete with Amazon and those grey-market online sites.

And many Gen Zers and Millennials would rather rent than own.

If that doesn’t keep you up at night, it should.

On top of that, Johann Rupert, chairman of luxury brand Richemont, said, "We are in for a huge change in society. Get used to it, and be prepared."

Right now, though, you still have a fighting chance to give visitors a reason to buy at your luxury store, but the clock is ticking.

In a recent survey, only 38% of consumers said they receive better customer service in luxury retail than in non-luxury retail.

62% is a pretty hefty amount of dissatisfied luxury shoppers.

Much like kids aren’t born knowing how to be respectful - they have to be taught - so associates are not hired already knowing how to be great representatives of your brand.

It has to be taught.

Because you haven’t…

They wait with their arms crossed at the front of your boutiques.

They deign to speak only to shoppers they feel are worthy…

Here’s the thing…it’s not 1960.

You can’t tell a book from its cover has never been more accurate.

You can’t distinguish the "worthy" from the "unworthy" just by sight.

How To Sell More Luxury Products In-store

Historical Value and Emotional Attachment: Luxury is not just about the price or quality; it's about the emotional and historical connection one feels when purchasing and wearing such items.

Storytelling: Modern consumers are driven by stories. Luxury brands have rich histories that they leverage in their marketing efforts but often become just a poster in a store's display window. By weaving these narratives into the brand image, luxury retailers can maintain a deep emotional connection with their consumers.

Digital Transformation: Today's luxury shoppers want a seamless blend of online and offline experiences. While brands should be leveraging augmented reality, virtual try-on, and other tech innovations to enhance the shopping experience, many have forgotten most purchase decisions are still made in their boutiques.

Sustainability and Ethical Production: Younger generations are increasingly conscious of sustainability and ethical production. They want to ensure that the luxury items they purchase are produced responsibly, so the ability to talk about those topics and how they relate to a specific customer must be developed.

Personalization: One-size-fits-all doesn't work in the luxury market. Consumers want personalized experiences, products tailored to their tastes, and interactions that make them feel unique. The days of "Finding everything ok?" from behind a customer should be extinct.

Collaborations and Limited Editions: Many luxury brands collaborate with popular culture icons, artists, and other brands. This attracts a younger audience and creates a sense of exclusivity. Ensure your brand ambassadors follow all your accounts so they don't get blindsided by a consumer.

After-Sales Service: Luxury doesn't end with the purchase. High-end brands should provide impeccable after-sales service, ensuring their loyal customers are satisfied long after purchasing.

What will all of this take? Selling Luxury Retail

You have to demand more from the people you hire.

Not giving more tasks to fewer salespeople and expecting them to be completed.

Not expecting more sales with zero training.

It means you have to train those you employ to create exceptional experiences each time and hold them accountable for the learning you are teaching.

Do you know how many inquiries I receive about sales training?

Do you know how many inquiries I have from C-level executives who see what I see and want to change but can't because of fears of recession and admit they have no budget?

Do you know how many salespeople contact me who received no training but who will be fired if they miss a monthly quota?

The answer on all counts is a lot.

But here’s the thing…

Many salespeople are doing an awful job.  That is as true in most department stores as in Italian, German, and British luxury signature boutiques.

You, as the CEO, are letting those salespeople squander all of the knowledge your craftspeople have used for generations to create your luxury products.  

By letting those employees sell your jewelry, watches, and apparel, you are also destroying everything your company's founder, who had the smarts to create your brand, built.

It used to be that you would respect what someone built so you had a place to work.

As an employee, you would be as responsible for keeping the store, sharing the artisans' passion, and being as profitable as the founder.

You knew you wouldn’t have anything if it weren’t for that visionary.

Managers must help employees respect the institution they work for.

You can’t let them take the opportunity for granted.

You can’t afford to allow them to treat items with generations of heritage like mass-market items.

But from the calculators I see on the counters in some stores, you do: the discount is what seals the deal, not the experience provided by the sales ambassadors.

Everybody has to believe in and respect the brand, or customer service is non-existent.

You have to help them want to be team players.

When a premium item gets to your sales floor, you have to look for your sales professionals to do their job of knowing how to sell luxury as much as any of your ateliers, craftspersons, or other artisans working in their workrooms thousands of miles away know how to build luxury.

"Average" doesn’t cut it.

See also, Selling Luxury Products Without A Discount

In Sum

You may be attracting customers to a legendary luxury brand, but you’re not getting your return.

That's because many employees are getting away with treating potential aficionados of your brand poorly… on your dime.

You’re leaving money on the table.  

Don't throw up your hands and go play with the shiny object of technology.

Why should an employee do more than show up if no one’s looking?

If you’re paying more money for these folks, you better get your money’s worth.

Those who manage the brand at the other end expect the same.

Do your job.

Customers will notice.