Do you market or sell your luxury product or service? When a client (not a customer, mind you, nor a prospect, but a client) approaches you to discuss your product or service, do you casually say it “costs” such and such, or do you instead offer: “This has a value of __________; would you like a demonstration?” Does the client come to you because of your expert salesmanship, or because of an effective marketing campaign? This author maintains that it is the latter.
Selling to the ultra-affluent is far different than shopping at, say, Wal-Mart, although one can suppose finding bargains at the latter. In a comparison of “pull-demand” or “push-supply,” one can argue that the luxury goods market is indeed a “push-supply” marketing situation, i.e. the one offering the product/service has to “push” the “supply” onto the client or buyer. In fact, in many instances, the client must be educated about the features and benefits, and, therefore, the value of this luxury good or service.
Companies that specialize in selling luxury goods, e.g. the Ritz-Carlton, will often advise against stating a fixed price, but instead suggest a value to the client. One often sees in high-end real estate magazines or at auctions, that a product is offered at such and such a price, or that the price is available upon request.
When examining a bespoke product or service, the client must first buy into the user experience or atmosphere that the product or service creates
How does the client first find you? Typically in the luxury goods environment, it is via a referral or WOM (word-of-mouth) marketing. Where else does your client shop or make discretionary luxury expenditures? Are you also marketing your luxury goods in that environment, e.g. advertising at the Fort Lauderdale or Monaco boat shows for your private jet sales
Knowing that a typical buyer makes that purchase after the seventh or eighth time of seeing a product or service, a luxury goods provider must make judicial use of precious marketing dollars. Considering that marketing covers the gamut of advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, trade shows, country club memberships, event sponsorships, etc., the key question in the luxury goods environment is which medium offers the best “bang for the buck
Knowing that the three prime motivators of a purchase decision are fear (“order by midnight tonight!”), greed (“supplies limited”), and sex appeal (“you’ve come a long way, baby! – Virginia Slims commercial), one can argue that the value drivers for a luxury good are greed and sex appeal. The challenge is how to structure the marketing program to capitalize on these drivers.
We see marketing photos of luxury limousines pulling up to a shiny, new business jet, with female runway models emerging. We also see sharply dressed ladies and gentlemen conducting business meetings on board that same jet. The key is to know the buying trigger of your client. People buy on emotion. The trigger to buy a luxury good is an emotional one, typically. Knowing your client’s emotional trigger and tailoring an effective marketing program, in the form of high quality brochures, a top-notch demonstration environment, and exceptional hands-on bespoke service by your sales people cements in your client’s mind that he/she has come to the right location to make that purchase.
Yes, this process may take several iterations, and, therefore, time, before consummating the sale, but, all the while, you have established your brand as a premier one in the industry. In the end, it is really about positioning your brand as being preeminent.
So, to market or to sell a luxury good? This author maintains that an effective marketing program will serve as the foundation on which to close (or sell) the luxury good/service.
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