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Selling the Experience

Posted: August 26, 2008, from the September 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

As luxury products migrate to the masses, new products must replace them. For retailers, it is a question of hitting the right balance of exclusivity and a welcoming atmosphere that will bring consumers back to the luxury experience time and time again.

Staying ahead in the luxury market is more difficult now than it was a few decades ago. The inevitable movement of luxury items to the mass market used to take time. Today’s industry is moving faster to mass produce luxury items, and time itself is no longer a luxury.

Quality not quantity is driving the consumer in all areas of beauty. A recent Euromonitor International report, for example, notes that the market has become oversaturated with celebrity fragrances, and mass fragrance sales are predicted to decline 25% by 2010. This void will be filled by premium luxury products, according to Euromonitor.

Additionally, private label products have gone from generic products to brands in their own right, competing with prestige brands in quality and price. So how does a luxury brand maintain its unique position in today’s retail environment?

Creating an Experience

Shoppers traditionally splurge on some items while attempting to save as much as possible on others. A luxury retailer that maximizes customer involvement creates a unique experience for the luxury shopper, drawing out the desire to splurge. As online retailers have learned, customers enjoy interacting with brands and with one another. “People who like to shop in your store are also likely to like each other,” said Pam Danziger, founder of Unity Marketing and author of Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience. This interactive forum draws luxury customers into the retail environment by creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, drawing them further into the experience.