Luxury – is this really the business you are in?

I just read an article which asked leaders and CEO’s what their definition of luxury was. Consistently the response focused on experiences. Whether it was getting away, spending time with their family, a great meal with friends, or being pampered etc. etc., no one actually said they wanted a car, boat, or item of jewellery. They spoke about pampering themselves.

Luxury collage

So the question we should ask ourselves is, if the above is the true definition of luxury (and I should add, that maybe if the question were posed differently or we speak to a group of people from a different demographic we might get a varying response), why do we perceive ourselves as being in the luxury industry?

As we all have different needs and wants, I think we could benefit from asking ourselves: what do we personally consider luxury?

Are you in the luxury business? And how do we come to this conclusion?

A simple response is that luxury is often associated with items that are non-essential, and in many cases we spend a disproportionate amount of money on something which gives us enjoyment.

Can we create a luxurious experience online, or do we need a physical presence? I don’t have the answer to this one, other than to say I think it is very hard to do it online, but I’m sure someone will show me how it is possible with a virtual reality application.

If you have a bricks and mortar store and you pride yourself on so-called great service, have you truly created for every customer who walks through the door a “luxurious experience”?

Now here is the really hard question: What sort of jewellery business do you run? Are you in fact a functional/Traditional Jeweller?

You know – the kind of simple store customers come to for repairs, where you’re so busy being busy that you’re straight down to business when they walk in the door.

I do appreciate that the question “what is luxury” is worthy of a thesis, so let’s challenge ourselves.

I had the pleasure of attending a new jewellery store opening, of a young and tremendously forward thinking jeweller.

From the moment you walk in and sink into the carpet you feel special. A scotch bar awaits you in the corner, an elegant lounge on the side with special phone chargers that work via conduction rather than plugs.

All the staff are elegantly attired. Behind discrete smoky glass but clearly visible is a busy workshop of master craftsman, demonstrating in no uncertain terms that this place might look exclusive, but they are very busy. And did I forget to mention the augmented reality screens and the secluded diamond design studio with its constellation ceiling?

If luxury is in fact an experience, then it is one that we all aspire to experience. Following this logic tells us that Jewellery is a symbol, not the actual luxury itself. It is the journey that we take to get there that creates and builds that luxurious feeling. Yes, many will go online and do some research, but when they venture out and begin the process of buying a diamond ring, what can we do to make them feel like it’s an incredibly special moment to be savoured? Can we slow down the process and guide them like a skilled conductor to reach the conclusion that they couldn’t even consider another establishment?

When I wrote in a previous article of staying at a luxurious hotel it was how they made us all feel. The bedroom was beautiful though I have seen better, but the honesty and focus of everyone at the hotel was to make us feel wonderful. Elegant lighting, the scent, the carpets and lounges which wrap you up like an old friend, these all heightened the feeling on a subliminal level.

Without creating that “Luxurious feeling” you can try and win me over with a really cheap price, coupled with a cheery smile, a good referral, and maybe even some high pressure closing techniques. However, with everything we read about the web retailer taking sales and the big brands throwing marketing dollars at getting your customer’s attention, you don’t need me to tell you how far you will have to cut your margins to get a piece of the pie.

Don’t assume that I am advocating the amazing fitout as the answer. I have much more belief in the culture of a business (from the owner to every team member) to be on the same page when going the extra mile for a potential customer before and after the sale.

You might be an excellent jeweller and sell beautiful diamonds and jewellery. But if your team treats your potential clients in a manner which tells them “I know you’re just looking today, so I am not really going to waste my time on you. I can see you’re clutching three quotes from other retailers and the printout from the website you researched last night…”

…Just please don’t tell me you’re in the luxury business.

Trade well.

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