I write this after staying in one of the most amazing 5 star hotels I have ever stayed in, the Grand Hyatt in Goa.
It seems very fitting to speak about what makes a luxury brand luxury? Hotels are an easy example for everyone to understand.
You can go and stay in a pretty standard hotel like a Premier Inn and everything is budget. From a self check-in where you might not speak to staff to a small room and a pretty average breakfast. It’s absolutely no frills.
On the flipside…
It’s the time, thought and attention to detail that makes anything truly luxury.
Take for instance the Grand Hyatt building. Inspired by Indo-Portuguese architecture, absolutely beautiful to look at. The amount of staff on hand that have clearly been well trained to greet you whether they are a gardener or a waiter.
Amazing food, rooms, staff, facilities and most of all experience, which is what commands the high price. Well relatively for India, not London prices.
Regardless of what you asked for, they would find a way to make it happen. A customer obsession at all costs.
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You can have everything else but if it falls down at the experience, there is no going back in the customer's mind.
It’s like in the book by Al Ries and Jack Trout, once a brand is lodged in the mind as the best at something, it’s very hard for another brand to change that perception.
I think that’s similar with an experience. It can make a break you and I would say a better experience would make up for a poorer product rather than the other way around.
So whether you are selling clothes, designing bespoke interiors or offering a bed for the night. It’s the emotion of the experience that gets remembered.
One person that knows that well is Heston Blumenthal and his renowned restaurant The Fat Duck in Bray. He has created a story you follow as the evening progresses, accompanied by your own book to explain each mini story of each course and what inspired the dish in the first place.
The attention to detail and creativity is unbelievable. It’s why he can charge so much for the experience, it’s like going to the theatre.
Not many places can warrant charging the kind of prices he does for food. Most wouldn’t pay it. But he knows people will pay for an experience like no other.
With this level of luxury also comes rarity and exclusivity. It’s a story to tell others.
We all know that it’s stories that get remembered more than facts as they make us feel something. This is especially so in luxury to be able to command premium prices.
Fundamentally, luxury brands must be seen as influencers and disruptors as with anything, if a brand becomes boring, no-one wants to be associated with them.
Louis Vuitton do an amazing job collaborating with artists, Gucci more recently tapped into the insight that people will binge watch on Netflix and their ‘House of Gucci’ film raised the brand’s profile worldwide.
Brands need to create stories and excitement into why you choose them over any other.
Part of selling any luxury good is convincing people to spend usually, a lot of money and what they get in return is seen as valuable to them.
That doesn’t always necessarily mean the value has to be in the product, often it does but as we mentioned above, it’s the story that helps create the narrative to justify the price.
An aspect of what makes a luxury brand luxury is definitely price.
It’s an art form. Price too low and you are not exclusive enough. Price too high and you become too out of reach.
This is where brand comes in. Like anything, if you have a strong, recognised brand, people are less sensitive to price because of your reputation and through association from others.
It’s perceived valuable.
It’s especially important for new luxury brands to build trust quickly as they don’t have the heritage that more recognised luxury brands can lean into.
Every brand interaction needs to create trust and that starts with your identity even before your product or service. Two or three seconds is all people need to make snap decisions about you. Whether that's your product on a shelf or the first glimpse of your website, a purchasing decision will be based on how you look.
You just have to ensure it’s the right feeling you evoke.
ikon has over a decade helping create and build luxury brands so we know how to design and speak to an affluent audience.
Get in touch or schedule a brand discovery call to see if we are the right choice for you.