What makes a luxury brand, well luxury? If luxury brands were only steeped in their own high price points, consumers would turn to more moderately priced products. Millennials, especially, crave luxury experiences that extend far beyond the amount on a price tag.
Luxury is in the details, and paying close attention to these details can transform any brand, from a home sound system to a bedding company, from middle-of-the-road to high end. Luxury brands, whether they are fashion houses or five-star hotels, make the extra effort to go the to ensure that every encounter is one that makes consumers feel special.
Luxury brands attract consumers because they excel at details. What separates iconic organizations from the wannabe's are the small, subtle characteristics that prompt consumers to gladly pay above and beyond a typical asking price.
But it's not enough to create a high-end product sourced from exceptional materials, you also have to market in a way that attracts luxury buyers. Promoting high price points or sleek products is not enough; when it comes to luxury, subtly and influence are the ways to win consumer loyalty.
If you're interested in building a luxury brand, you need to pay attention to how you're building relationships with three key audiences: influencers, employees, and consumers.
I sat down with Mark Birnbaum, one half of the duo behind famed hospitality group EMM to learn more about how he successfully creates luxury hospitality experiences. Among the restaurants in EMM's portfolio are Catch, Lexington Brass, and Catch Roof.
Throughout our conversation, Birnbaum harped on serving three primary audiences: influencers, employees, and, of course, customers.
Pay attention to high-profile influencers.If a celebrity visits a nightclub or hotel, they automatically send the message to consumers that this brand is unique, and worth their hard earned dollars. Luxury brands need to leverage the influencers and household names to consistently convey their place at the top of the cultural zeitgeist.
Throughout EMM's tenure, Birnbaum and his partner Eugene Remm have never lost sight of the power of catering to high profile clientele. When EMM first made the decision to move Catch to Los Angeles, they knew they could only succeed with the support of the city's influencers. Their rolodex literally put Catch on the Los Angeles map.
According to Birnbaum, "Catering to celebrities has the power to draw immediate customer interest. Because people aspire to live like their favorite celebrities, they trust their tastes in experiences. Catch felt like a secret that only influencers had access to, which meant that the public immediately wanted in."
Celebrities are synonymous with luxury, and if you're interested in growing a strong luxury brand, you cannot abandon this customer base. Building partnerships with influential figures and asking them to share their experiences on social media enables you to get on the culturally-relevant map almost immediately.
Don't overlook your own employees.You cannot build a sound luxury company without serving your own employees. You are selling a lifestyle and it's imperative to practice what you preach. From transparent communications to stellar working conditions and perks, treating your employees as VIPs creates a culture of positivity and passion.
Furthermore, when your employees are enthusiastic about their jobs, they become natural brand evangelists. Birnbaum says, "We pay special attention to every single hire we make at our locations. We want people who will not only assimilate to the culture of our restaurants, but individuals who can elevate it."
However, it's not just about hiring individuals with infectious personalities or stand-out style. Nurturing career development and implementing a transparent work culture empowers people to find confidence in their roles.
"When our employees feel confident and passionate, our establishments thrive. However, we know that instilling these attitudes starts with the EMM management team, and we know that the more effort we put into building relationships with our employees, the better our business will be," says Birnbaum.
Build unique experiences with every individual customer.Consumers have an array of brands experiences to choose from. Even if they are influenced by their favorite celebrities and further convinced by testimonials, they still have to be convinced that your product or service is worth their repeat business.
Birnbaum is insistent in driving personalize experiences that make every customer feel unique. "We go out of our way to take care of our customers, ranging from regulars to first-time celebrities," Says Birnbaum.
Building a foundation steeped in 1:1 encounters enables EMM to continue finding new growth opportunities, because when customer service is the bedrock of your brand it's hard to falter.
As EMM looks to the future they continue to find ways to make each customer special. But they're also interested in finding solutions to make the experience convenient. Birnbaum is well aware that digital technology has dramatically altered customer behavior, and EMM is embracing digital change, including allowing customers to text in their reservations.
Creating a luxury brand with longevity demands effort; you cannot cut corners and expect to build a powerful organization. However, if you consistently commit to prioritizing these three groups in equal measure, you stand the chance of competing with the likes of Louis Vuitton and the Four Seasons.
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