When we talk about a luxury product or service, we instantly think of the following characteristics: perfection of detail, high price, history, rarity, unique experience, extraordinary places, champagne, etc. These are the elements that make a product that exceptional experience that we dream of and that carries our imagination in a world made of velvet gloves, white blouses and tiny magic hands that hone the small details. Yes, definitely, but for this beautiful story to be a reality and not turn into a nightmare for the creator, here are the common mistakes to avoid and my few tips that will allow you to launch an idea, not without risks, but by limiting investments to allow you more agility and responsiveness in case of mixed returns. For the sake of simplicity of reading, I use the word "product" but if you develop a luxury "service", the following points also apply.
As a creator, it happens to be inspired by an idea and build a creation solely on the basis of our personal desires and tastes. But this is a fundamental mistake as it is a much too subjective approach that does not allow to define specific targets. This approach dramatically increases the probability of making errors at all stages, both in terms of the product's aesthetic choice and visual identity, as well as the communication strategy. It is extremely important to frame your ideas based on a market observation as well as a first definition of the desires and aspirations of the target customer segment. This is done through a good understanding of a detected desire or a strong added value that only you can bring to such a project. Obviously, avoid falling into the cliché of the creator who imposes his visions without justifications or strong arguments. A successful project is a project that can be broken down element by element and where each line, shape and color can be justified and is not there just to look good or simply to respond to a trend. And yes, aesthetics is indeed not so subjective but is an extraordinary science when it is well thought out.
One of the most common mistakes is to do too much and this applies as well to established brands as to young ones trying to make their mark in the luxury market. Developing a product with variations of shapes, colors, materials is not necessarily a guarantee of quality or credibility. This generates a lot of costs and a large stock that would be a concern both economically (because unsalable), and from a sustainable development point of view (because of the scarcity of qualitative raw materials). In addition, giving too many choices can devalue the product or the quality you want to put forward, lost in a multitude of shapes and colors. It is certainly true that it is interesting to give the choice to the customer, but too much would eventually lose him and this can be a real obstacle to the act of purchase. However, this does not prevent you from suggesting any variants of future possibilities for testing potential interest. Finally, from a commercial point of view, it is easier to control the sale of a version of a product based on specific characteristics that make it this extraordinary and unique product.
For young brands, a usual first move is often to organize a launch inspired by well established brands to compensate a lack of credibility due to less recognition or a limited community. Except this strategy can prove fatal if the product does not meet the expected success. In case reviews are mixed, displaying the version X of your product to such a large audience would make a questioning, or even a radical pivot to a new product or a radically different target, very difficult. Instead, draw inspiration from the hand-picked customer invitations that established brands make on a regular basis. Value small committees that will allow you to meet your customers and discuss more. Finally, even if you are an established brand, remember to repeat the experience several times in different places with different client segments to help you define and validate the personae, as well as understand the different reasons that drive each customer to make the purchase. This will enable you to build more targeted and more effective communication campaigns.
Luxury is like a dream, hence the importance of a well-constructed story. Whatever the subject, it's important to build your story around your added values. For some, it will be a historical brand brought up to date, for others the exceptional know-how that only a few craftsmen possess, or perhaps the rare material used when manufacturing the products or the customization of a service nonexistent until now. The mistake though, would be to tell a story that would please the greatest number. Although it is advisable to place yourself on a large enough segment to allow the brand to develop, it is important not to disperse. Luxury is not there to meet a need but rather to satisfy a desire for belonging, self-esteem and social status, where the product identity allows the customer to project and appropriate the experience. You know that you have your story once your product stands out from the rest of your competitors. That is to say, it is recognizable at first sight through a marked aesthetic or a unique and unique experience and where the coherence between the visual identity and the product is undeniable. Obviously, the more consistent the story, the better you target your communications campaigns, the better you sell.
Comparing yourself with other brands can be a good thing for a better understanding of the market or customer behavior. However, a common mistake is to think that what established brands offer around their products, such as a sublime packaging or a tailored service can not apply to a young brand that does not have similar budgets. However, some investments can make all the difference and help you stand out from your competitors. Wanting to grow too big too fast, no, but staying too small is not an option either as you could end up with an unambitious project. In an increasingly competitive market, aiming for excellence is an obligation. If customers are attracted by the experience of excellence, through the history of the brand and what it offers, it is the excellence of the experience that will make them come back. Whatever your means, in luxury, not only details are everything, but the added value it brings can also play on the credibility and longevity of the brand.
In conclusion, if you are about to create a luxury brand or launch a new product, my main advice would be for you to adopt a humble approach in each stages of the project. It is not a question of not being confident, on the contrary, but to anticipate that several of your assumptions might be seriously shaken. Be super open to be able to accept criticism. Of course, learn to filter critics to differentiate between constructive and emotional feedback. Stay curious and do not imprison yourself in the concept of your product. It is essential that you keep an eye on the outside world. Watch your competitors and be constantly aware of what is happening in other areas. Keeping yourself up to date helps bounce more easily and nurtures creativity.
Finally, to avoid getting lost in the various experiments, feedbacks and different versions of your product, use the Lean Luxury method inspired by the Lean Startup method applied to luxury. The first step which is the realisation of Lean Canvas will help you to put on paper your assumptions and will accompany you throughout the project. Then follow the other steps of the methodology that are the design of the Minimum Viable Experience and Validation and start again until you have found a perfect market fit for your product.
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