Luxury brands: The importance of the buying experience

What happens when luxury brands build the perfect store environment to sell the right product, but fail to provide the aura of exclusivity and finesse that should surround the products themselves?

A few weeks ago, I was invited to the inauguration of a new store in one of the arcades off Regent Street in London. These kinds of arcades - avenues of bijoux goods that are the ancestors of the modern shopping centre - go to great lengths to maintain the aura of luxury. Sumptuously decorated with marble, mahogany and elegantly lit by shining light bulbs, the arcades welcome those who can afford the products displayed in their fancy windows. They provide a framework for class divide, exclusivity and inaccessibility.

I went to the arcade, walked the long corridor and arrived in front of the newly refurbished store. From the outside, the place was bedecked in gleaming gold and polished black, the goods were exhibited as works of art on crystal shelves. The sales assistants I could see as I gazed through the windows smiled at me in their classy and retro uniforms. It felt like 1910 all over again.

I opened the door and entered the store, feelings of curiosity mixed with an unexpected reverence. But as soon as I walked in, the 120bpms trap-hip-hop music played by two hidden loudspeakers destroyed the whole atmosphere. The aura of luxury created by the rest of the environment was killed in five seconds flat. Clearly, someone didn’t do their homework and research the most suitable music for a place like this, conveying the perfect luxury experience, and left the sales staff to choose according to their (despicable) taste.

The acoustic pain was accompanied by a simple question: why invest so much money to create a shop experience which digs into the brand’s heritage, to then let a drum machine ruin the whole atmosphere and make people leave the store? Do people really like luxury and ‘drum and bass’ in the same context? Maybe it was just the initiative a sales assistant and the store did have a better playlist….

To answer these questions, we asked 300 luxury buyers about their habits and compared them to a study on Loyalty that we carried out this year across five market sectors and 50 mainstream brands, with a sample of 1,000 respondents. You will be able to find both reports here - you can sign up to our newsletter and we’ll email the reports straight into your inbox as soon as they are ready.

We came across very interesting results concerning luxury customers’ experience and habits. For instance, when we asked where respondents usually buy their products, we found out that in-store experience is vital for luxury brands.

 
 

Furthermore, about half of the respondents (52%) said they often buy without planning, and that they cannot help but spend their money when they have it (49%) – suggesting that luxury customers enjoy shopping more than the average. Consequently, brands need to be aware that they have to create the ideal buying experience at all times and be ready to welcome customers as they walk in by communicating the right message.

TAKEAWAYS:

  • Luxury brands have to manage their customers’ buying experience very carefully as luxury buyer tend to often buy in store.

  • In comparison to a wider sample of mainstream brand customers, luxury buyers like to spend money more than the rest, and plan less their purchases.

Rare: Consultancy