Luxury companies shake out penny-ante customers to reach big-ticket
Now that the masses can afford Hermés keychains and Tiffany stationery
to make their miniature style statements, some luxury-goods companies are
turning cold shoulders. Returning to the origins of the category, these
companies are trying to return luxury to a truly exclusive experience, in
the process demanding an equal exchange of money for personal pampering.
Tiffany & Co. is already testing the idea, says an article in Luxemagazine.
Bombarded by dreamy-eyed mall-goers and Fifth Avenue tourists who check
off the flagship store on their list of landmarks, the retailer salvages
its resources by outsourcing some of its less-expensive items to a toll-free
number and catalog department. The person who trudges uptown in search of
a $25 silver dog tag may be upset he can't buy the product in the store,
but the jeweler has reserved its salespeople for the big-ticket spenders
who need personal attention.
Tiffany's toll-free number is a perfect example of how technology helps
this process. Not only can companies reassign in-and-out customers to operators
and Web sites, they can use new technology to enhance customized service.
If a customer spends a certain amount of money in your store, for example,
why not give her a personal, password-restricted Web page she can visit
to see new and recommended products based on her tastes and past purchases,
then include a gift registry that loved ones can access. If she's an even
bigger spender, the salesperson may take the extra step and deliver the
goods to her in person for examination.
If retailers really want to get snooty about it, the article goes so
far to say, they could charge admission for the privilege of shopping in
their store. It's not so different than what tony restaurants do now show
up on time or the place will charge $50 to the credit card you used for
the reservation. Time is money and money buys time, the article says. To
augment that value, retailers bargain that if customers don't waste their
time, they'll return the favor with impeccable, over-the-top service.
by Stacey King
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.