Lately I have been having difficulty wrapping my head around businesses that have the title of being a luxury brand but don’t really act like it. I could name so may brands that seem to believe there are only two key factors that make a luxury brand:
1. Have an expensive shiny product
2. Market the product as glamorously as possible.
Brands think that if they could get those two things right, consumers are automatically going to accept the luxury status of their brand. But there are a few other factors after the above mentioned which a good luxury brand won’t miss. Before I share those factors, let me share a story of my experience with a “Luxury brand” here and while you go through it, see if the brand actually lives up to the title.
Few months ago, I came across this beautiful jewellery brand on Instagram that shall remain nameless but for the sake of the story, let’s call it Kara. So, Kara had some of the most exquisite jewellery pieces and I loved them so I chose to go ahead and buy some delicate pieces for myself. The products were definitely beyond my budget range but since I believed the quality must be good, (because of all the 60,000 followers that the brand had and all the celeb collaborations they had done and also because I wanted to invest in staple pieces that I use regularly) I was certain and ready to make the purchase.
So far, we have encountered the shiny product and also seen it being marketed really well. Two factors of luxury achieved already. Right? This is where things start to get murky. I head to their website and make my purchase but I get no mail from the official site post the purchase at all. The only mail that I receive is from the third-party billing portal that tells me I made a purchase for 7000 INR using my card and an order ID. No details on what products I purchased or how many. No information on when I can expect the product to be delivered. No information on return policy. Nothing.
I thought of reaching out to them through their contact page which asks me to fill a form with query instead of having a contact number. I didn’t believe that would get me a response fast enough so I reached out to the brand through Instagram DM. They responded the next day giving me an estimate of making + shipping time that usually takes for their products – 12-14 days. Mind you, this was not a range provided specifically for my order.
When the product was dispatched post making, I got a mail (Again, not from Kara) that my “Order is complete.” This confused me as I was unsure if they meant that the product was made or dispatched or delivered. I needed to check with them through Instagram again to confirm that it was a dispatch notification. It took about 17 days from order for my product to arrive but the wait didn’t bother me and I was in a hyper-unboxing excitement.
Once I received the package, I unwrapped the typical white courier covers with a lot of duct tape, then a few layers of newspaper that finally led to the actual jewellery box. It was a simple two-piece black cardboard box with the label ‘KARA’ written on it. Now that doesn’t seem strange until I noticed that the box was quite worn out on the edges indicating that it wasn’t a fresh box and had been probably lying around for ages.
Inside the box, there was a foam like sheet messily covering two tiny potli bags. The potli bags were apparently made with old sarees for better sustainable packaging which I appreciate but the problem was that the fabric of these potlis were losing threads and the opening of the potlis were not smooth to handle. I finally found my jewelry inside these potlis and they were beautiful as expected. No complaints there but I could not find any instruction on how to care for them or how long will the golden shine last. I again had to reach out to the brand Instagram page to get confirmation on the same. It was disappointing to know that they don’t encourage the use of the product on a daily basis as they recommend keeping it away from water and humidity and also to keep it in zip lock for longest preservation. In conclusion, my staple jewellery was no longer staple.
You now know the journey of the product post marketing until utilisation. Did you notice the many opportunities missed by the brand to live up to the luxury label? The behaviour showcased by this brand says that they are not responsible for any customer needs/experiences post the sale is made. I would not be surprised by that behaviour if it was coming from a small local business but this was an established luxury brand. You see, the term ‘Luxury’ basically says, ‘This product/service makes me feel like a million dollars. I feel rich and exclusive.’ So, did the brand really live up to the that definition?
Following are some of the most basic pointers for any luxury brand to keep in mind so that they could fully live up to their “luxury” status:
Help your customers regardless of sale made or not. They are considering buying from you, when you help them instead of selling, you are making them feel heard and valued. That is the first step of making them feel luxurious.
Be transparent about your product. There is a possibility that your product doesn’t really match customer needs, you may not push for a sell but if you see them choosing a wrong fit, be honest and advise them for a better option.
Show that you care and that you are available when needed. The basic thing you can do here is to have a customer care service and an easy way to reach them. Customers also love brands that offer repair services. That way they relive the luxury on every visit they make to the store. Examples: Luxurious Car brands, Handbag brands.
A detailed mail from the brand to the customer giving all the details about the product features, care methods, purchase warranty etc. is necessary. Add an additional unexpected souvenir in the mix and a genuine thank you note and you have created a beautiful customer experience that they will never forget.
Invest in good packaging. This point should be a default for any luxury product brand. Packaging is one of the biggest touch points for the customer where they get to touch and feel the beauty of the product in its fresh, prime state, the feeling of luxury is fully achieved. Unboxing experience is not therapeutic for no reason. Brands that nail this part gain word of mouth popularity like no other.
The product is definitely the hero but the pointers above help you turn the product into a beloved brand. A high price tag and a glamorous marketing won’t be sufficient in the long term to have a business that shines for many years. A lasting impression on customers is needed to achieve that.
If you are working on starting a luxury brand, consider all the above mentioned touch-points that affect a consumer and try to provide the most personalised experience at each stage. If you need further help in strategising and implementing the same, you will need a brand strategist who will give you precise action items to implement your vision. They will guide you to have a fully aligned brand purpose, functioning, personality and help you build loyalty among your customers.
If you don’t know a brand strategist and don’t want to search for too long, you could reach out to me here, I would love to bring your vision to reality. Also...