Editor's View - July 2014

Trends In Customer Courtship
By Wanda Jankowski, Editor-in-Chief

Although this issue is dedicated largely to new products on view during the summer Atlanta and Las Vegas Markets, more goes into making profits than selecting the right products. At the June 18, 2014 meeting of the Luxury Marketing Council in New York, a panel offered ideas on getting new customers and selling more to existing ones.

* Sell the right product, not just the best deal. One panelist works for a purchasing advisory group that furnishes guidance to the super-wealthy on large-ticket purchases. He says it is more important that their clients get what best suits their needs and lifestyles, rather than just what is “on sale,” or the biggest “bang for the buck.”

Training employees to listen to customers, ascertain their needs and suggest the best products for them, regardless of the deal of the day, will gain your store respect and repeat business.

* Be an educator—there is so much information out there and so little insight. One panelist relayed an anecdote about a luxury brand that held an event. A sales executiive was placed at each table to talk about the brand and products during dinner. This marketing ploy was a flop. The guests weren’t interested in being sold during a dinner.

The next time an event was held, employees genuinely passionate about the subject area to which the products pertained were placed at each table so they could participate in personal discussions with guests about the field. This approach was a success. The employees’ knowledge engaged customers and reflected well on the brand.
If your employees have enthusaism for and knowledge of the field, they are better equipped to build trust with your customers and guide them to a purchase decision.

* At the luxury level, it’s not about “stuff,” but about experiences. Build brand loyalty through bespoke events. Consumers are inundated with so much media hype that they aren’t listening to ads anymore. Millennials especially, who have grown up with technology-rich devices, are by now used to ignoring ads on social media and web pages in their cellphones and tablets, and zoning in on the content.

To reach affluent consumers today, a growing trend is to hold special events that offer experiences that can’t easily be replicated and that bind customers to each other and the brand. One panelist related that owners of Bentleys were invited to Scandinavia to see the cars race on ice. It’s about creating a community among customers around a product or brand.

Customers also respond to companies that support social causes. Connecting your store or brand with a charity is also a technique growing in popularity. Expressing social responsibility through a special event or promotion allows customers who share that passion for the cause to align with your store or brand in a meaningful, experiential way, building interest and loyalty.

Even though the panel reflected the luxury sector, at the foundation of all these ideas is something that can be carried through to serving consumers seeking more affordable product options. That something is the emotional engagement of today’s customers—listening to them, understanding what they need, and creating services, events and promotions that personally connect them to your store or brand.

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