The Business of Luxury never stops despite daily responsibilities. As such, I’m back after a few weeks’ hiatus. There’s been a ton of great articles since my last posting, so let’s dive in, shall we?
First up, we look at one of my favorite topics of discussion: timepieces, as explored by Tina Gaudoin at the Wall Street Journal. I had a lovely discussion with a colleague recently, who wanted to know my background, how I got into PR, and most notably, how I got into luxury PR. I explained to him my love affair with PR came after I realized I had too much of a conscious to become a lawyer. And luxury PR came after spending two years working as a top sales associate at Tourneau. My interaction with luxury buyers gave me a better understanding of how luxury brands create the type of emotional frenzy that causes people to pay an extraordinary price for inanimate objects.
Something happens to you, I explained to my colleague, when you come in contact with a $980,000 watch – nay, timepiece – and you are thoroughly educated as to why such an object should cost $980,000. You never really look at watches the same again. And ultimately, you come to appreciate true luxury as an unquantifiable value.
Some will argue there’s no need to own a $980,000 watch. Exactly! There is no need. Nor is there a need to pay $4,000 a night for a hotel room, spend $900 on a pair of shoes, or drive a car that goes faster than one should outside of a race track.
We do it for the thrill it gives us.
The customer that bought the $980,000 Blancpain knows that he is one of an extremely exclusive club of collectors that own such a masterpiece. And in the case of this particular masterpiece, he knows the one he owns was made exclusively for him, by hand, from a master watchmaker.
We go from watches to better understanding those who will pay a handsome fortune to own finest timepieces; specifically, how to understand the motivators of one affluent buyer from that of another. Kayla Hutzler at Luxury Daily (which I highly recommend a subscription) gives an overview of the findings from Ledbury Research’s Luxury Briefing Wealth Summit 2011.
The article reminds me of a lecture I gave a few years back to the luxury division of the French Trade Commission during their annual conference. To help them better communicate the American consumer to luxury French brands seeking entrance into this market, I spoke to them of three different types of luxury buyers (a future op-ed piece will address this again). Ledbury Research’s findings introduce us again to this same concept, this time, looking at luxury buyers in various countries and how each are segmented. This is an invaluable consideration, as so many companies think one strategy works across the board in all countries. This, of course, the smartest of us know is never the case; as should it never be considered true across luxury buying as well.
Speaking of business strategy across multiple countries, The Corruption Trap by Angela Garvey Hammond for INSEAD gives us a hint of what a country’s trade commission won’t tell you in the first meeting. Corruption can be a necessary evil of doing business in a foreign country, especially as BRIC countries receive a greater amount of attention from luxury companies who are looking for the next great proponent of conspicuous consumption.
And lastly, an article I was surprised to discover, but definitely worthy of consideration, given, again, the popularity of BRIC countries to luxury companies. Apparently, there are some luxury brands skimping on quality in the products they bring to the Chinese market. Tsk. Tsk. Not a good way to begin a long term relationship with Chinese luxury buyers….