What Exactly Is Luxury Retail?

The traditional view of luxury retail meant a customer base with very deep pockets. It is now a far more emotive and intimate experience.

Our ongoing Resolution Interiors discussions identifies if we can define exactly what luxury retail represents? Does it now represent customer expectations not affluence?

After years of soaring profits, reduced Asian consumer enthusiasm, geopolitical instability and erratic exchange rates are taking it’s toll on some of the biggest names in the luxury retail sector, according to the Financial Times.

Our belief is that this meaning of ‘luxury’ is changing.

Our team included, Ashley Offers (Senior Project Coordinator), Claire Aldersley (Design Manager), Emma Riley (Creative Designer), Laura Burnside (Creative Designer) and Pippa Saunders (Marketing Manager)


What Does Luxury Retail Mean Today?

As the conversation built momentum, is there a way to define what luxury means today?

According to Claire it represents “implicitly understanding who your audience is” and being able to deliver value to customers on a consistent basis. “From the likes of Ted Baker through to Farrow & Ball it represents creating a brand that is sought after and makes a deeper connection on a personal level. It’s not just about product anymore.”

“The importance of close attention to detail is paramount,” stated Pippa.

So does luxury represent being expensive?

We believe that a luxury product doesn’t necessarily have to claim a premium price but for a consumer to immerse themselves. Ashley explained, “Luxury is personal. It represents a level of quality that isn’t accessible to everybody. You are able to interpret the amount of spend based on the premium value that it has to you.”

Following on from last month’s discussion and the belief that technology is now being seen as an enabler to attract people to retail stores (click here to read), luxury has it’s roots in the offline experience.

Pippa highlighted, “Luxury within the mind of a consumer has to be about understanding the whole process of a brand delivery and the attention to detail from staff and customer interaction.”

“Luxury has to be about consideration and a well thought out delivery from the moment you walk into a store to the ongoing communication afterwards, where you are still treated as a person and not name on a blanket email list.”

“There is a distinct level of personalization that cannot be achieved with a mass retailing approach.”

Ashley continued this by explaining, “Luxury represents an emotive experience that demonstrates how a brand is progressing in the perception of someone else.”


Quality Not Necessarily Innovation

So, does this mean that luxury retail sits hand in hand with investment in innovation?

“Not necessarily” said Emma, “Luxury can also have its roots in a classical approach. It doesn’t mean that technology has to be prevalent in store. It can mean anything from invisible shelf fixings to hand crafted stitching for products.”

“It all comes down to the experience of selling subtle qualities.” Stated Claire.

However, innovation is more to do with appreciating how technology is driving how we interact with brands according to Ashley. “Innovation should mean being in tune with the marketplace and the demands of the evolving consumer. If that means a digital device heightens the one to one experience, then this perception of luxury can be heightened. It takes the customer experience to a new level.”

An example of being in-tune with the evolving consumer base is what Burberry have achieved with their Regent Street department store café. Whether as a means to increase dwell time, or a fine example of brand extension, it represents the evolving nature of luxury brands.


Curating A Back-Story

A luxury retail brand means having a back-story. It can highlight where a brand began. For instance when looking at Farrow & Ball this represents an element of craftsmanship and a dedication to an industry practice. This is well documented with the founders of the company during the 1940s and its rich history.

“What this means is that luxury represents authenticity” stated Claire. “It helps us make a connection to a company that is believable and believes in an approach. This is how a company can achieve differentiation when compared to the rest of the marketplace.”

In a recent study from luxury fashion and brand specialist ContactLab, Massimo Fubini said, “Brands must go that bit further at every single stage of the consumer journey, but very few are fulfilling their true potential.”


Intimacy Not Affluence

Luxury in today’s world represents more to do with creating a personalized approach, where the whole experience is curated around an individual not the interpretation of functional luxury that is centred purely on wealth.

The definition of luxury retail is changing. To connect to an audience, it is about meaning something in the hearts and minds of others and not to just their debit cards.

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