Luxury brands and retailers have historically been slower to embrace social than their less premium counterparts. Richard Marcus, former CEO and Chairman of Neiman Marcus, told us in 2010 that this hesitance must be abandoned, and quickly:
“Some luxury retailers are reluctant to engage their customers in meaningful feedback. Continuing down that path is a mistake.”
Luckily for the market since then, many premium brands have opened up to social and are using conversations with customers to inspire deeper loyalty and new fans – and are enjoying the rewards.
Build trust in the quality of your brand, and reinforce desired associations
To consumers, luxury is synonymous with quality. When they look to luxe brands, they expect superior products and customer service that they couldn’t get from a bargain brand.
Lexus Sweden uses the words of their drivers to confirm two major points in its brand positioning. Says Anders Drakenberg, Marketing Manager for Lexus Sweden,
“Our main positioning for our brand is two-fold – high technology leadership and satisfied customers. And what better way to communicate that we have satisfied customers than for the customers to say it themselves?”
Testimonials from real product owners also build trust in that promise of high-quality, innovative automobiles. Anders explains,
“We communicate with reviews instead of just using traditional marketing because authentic customer commentary is more trustworthy. People put more stock in what other people think and say about our products, not in what we think and say.”
During one three-month period in 2011, Lexus Sweden found that visitors to the company’s website who engaged with reviews had 35% more page views than those who did not and spent 122% more time on the website.
Ensure that the purchase is absolutely right for the individual consumer
Luxury shoppers are obviously spending at a higher price point, making it all the more important to make sure they get exactly the right size, shade, version, etc. for their needs. Feedback from other consumers helps ensure this.
Premium department store Bloomingdales asks consumers for a “fit rating,” specifying whether an item tends to run large, small, or just right. So, if a shopper often finds themselves between sizes, they know whether to err up or down a size in that perfect trench coat or pair of patent pumps.
Start cultivating relationships with your next generation consumers
Even when they can’t yet afford a product, or aren’t yet in the life stage to need it, Millennials want access to luxury brands. They appreciate the brands that start relationships with them now, even when there’s no chance they’ll purchase the products soon. Explained one Millennial panelist at CES 2013,
“I can’t afford an Hermes Birkin bag. But it’s in the back of my mind. And when I have enough money to afford those goods, I’ll remember if they tweeted me back or if they’re having really amazing content on Facebook. And building that relationship at an early age even if I can’t afford that stuff now, I think is valuable, and eventually I will buy those products that I love.”
Catch potential dissatisfaction and correct it to ensure future experiences are delightful
Some negative feedback is inevitable for every brand, even in the luxury category. But it’s nothing to fear, says Richard of Neiman Marcus,
“I have hundreds of customer letters from my 30 years at Neiman Marcus that testify to our customers’ willingness to compliment and criticize. Compliments are fine, but criticism helps you improve your business. Today, the tools available for really useful interaction with customers should be embraced by all businesses.”
Lexus’s Anders agrees:
“Personally, I think it’s more powerful to know if a customer has a negative response than to not know. If you know there’s a problem, you can do something about it.”
Trends in feedback uncovered that early users of Clinique’s Dark Spot Corrector product were leaving negative reviews, saying the product didn’t work for them. The product is intended to show results in four to six weeks, but the reviewers had only been using it a few weeks.
Clinique immediately contacted these consumers to clarify their confusion. The brand then updated the product packaging and included education materials to make the usage timeline clear – ensuring a satisfying experience for future consumers.
For the makers and sellers of luxe products, forming deep relationships with consumers is nothing new. These brands have been known for their attention to detail and customer satisfaction for ages. Now, it’s time to bring that celebrated level of service online – where its reach and impact will attract more consumers than ever.