We have analysed in detail in this work what a ‘luxury strategy’ is. This analysis was based on practical, concrete experiences, with their successes and failures, each as instructive as the other, of companies operating in the classic luxury markets (clothing, jewellery, personal accessories, cars, hotels, cruises, etc).
From these we deduced the rules of management, and in particular the ‘anti- laws’ of marketing, which form a highly coherent corpus, often completely opposed to the strategies and tactics applied successfully in classic marketing. It was necessary to pursue this lengthy analysis to its end in order to convince our readers that success in luxury was not only the recompense of creative talent and luck, but that it was equally the result of marketing practices that were orig- inal, but just as structured and professional as those of classic marketing.
If the overall analysis of what luxury is in Chapter 1 (‘In the beginning there was luxury’) is valid for any company in any era, the practical tools, in partic- ular the ‘4Ps’ (product, price, place, promotion), correspond to a specific envi- ronment. It is therefore necessary to adapt them to the trade and culture in which the luxury strategy is envisaged. Pragmatism should be the watchword, and we will return to it frequently throughout this chapter; what we feel important is that you should be clear on why you are not rigorously respecting this law or that one, and that you have weighed up the consequences of this choice. Another point: the ‘4Ps in luxury’ are as consistent together as are the ‘4Ps’ in traditional marketing. It is therefore very dangerous to implement a strategy with one or two ‘Ps in luxury’ and the other ‘Ps’ remaining managed the traditional way: all the ‘4Ps’ have to be readjusted. Consistency is of course extremely important in traditional marketing, but it is an absolute necessity in luxury, owing to the importance of all the qualitative aspects.
This is true even for existing products and markets: we have seen several times that luxury marketing must adapt to the client’s level of familiarity with the brand. It is necessary to be highly rigorous with the client who does not know the brand, in order to reassure and convince them of the quality and coherence of the brand universe. However, with a client already familiar with the brand, the approach can and should be less ceremonious. This is particu- larly true in terms of the price, where, even though it is clear that you should never lower the price of a product, you can do a ‘favour’ for a familiar client, such as reserved offers, or ‘private sales’. If this is done well, it will not be seen as a brand weakness, but on the contrary as a privilege reserved for the connoisseur, the friend – in fact as a gift from the brand to someone who deserves it: the affective link is thus reinforced.
Likewise, the role of the internet in a luxury strategy will evolve along with the tool and the sociocultural environment: rightfully completely excluded from luxury some 10 years ago, we now strongly recommend including it in the communications mix, thanks to its considerable qualitative evolution (images, sounds) and technological evolution (high speed); we exclude it from sales today (while still strongly recommending its use in pre- and after-sales, or CRM – customer relationship management), until it becomes more secure and personalized… but perhaps we will recommend it tomorrow. Here again, pragmatism is king!
Conversely, this does not mean that a luxury strategy is always possible, and less still that it is economically realistic: the cemeteries are full of people who believed they were indispensable, but also of companies that thought they were ‘luxury’.
The fact that your grandmother was able to stitch together a few garments for the notables of the village, or that your great-grandfather sold a few hand- made articles at the market in the neighbouring town, is not, de facto, enough to justify the historic roots of a luxury brand. Artisanship is not luxury as long as it is not socially coded and a bearer of taste, or even simply art.
Likewise, you should not confuse a product that is not sold with a rare product, by blaming the incomprehension of potential clients and not blaming your own obstinacy and the failings of the offer.