Updated: Feb 26
Recently, I walked into a Louis Vuitton pop-up at Dubai Mall. I enjoy the visual appeal and energy in pop-ups. It is a great way to see what is new. Now usually if you say that to the sales personnel, they simply welcome you and don't really indulge in any further conversation, which is to compel you to make a purchase. And many a time, you are passed a judgmental look if you don't.
I had a very different experience.
She was welcoming and warm, she let me look around, and then asked me if I liked jewelry. To which I replied in the affirmative. LV jewelry is new to me, I was curious. She asked me if I would like to see the new collection, the LV Volt Collection. She went on to tell me about the new, unisex, graphic collection which uses the iconic initials ‘LV’, as a metaphor for movement and symbol for energy.
The details she was telling me were so interesting. She was passionate about Louis Vuittons savoir-fare and was keen on telling me the story ,and meaning of the use of the initials.
She then asked me to pick which ones I would like to try on. At this point I was a little hesitant because I prefer bolder designs.So I told her I am happy just to take a look, to which she said,
"Of Course! Please do! But try them, I will be glad to get you whichever ones you like."
That took me by surprise. The mere fact that she was investing her time, conversing, telling me the story of the LV Volt collection and helping me try, even though she knew I was not inclined towards making a purchase, was impressive.
It was 15 minutes of my time, we spoke, I saw new things, she gave me her card and we said goodbye to each other.
I wasn't alone, my friend who was with me at the time was as surprised. So I knew I wasn't just imagining this transformation in the way sales personnel of luxury brands interact.
Got me thinking, and here I am writing about it. (Recall value level!)
We are inherently drawn to, and seek interactions and experiences that are unique to us. Real, genuine connections take over all else, and so personalization and customization have grown to be key to fashion and luxury.
The roots of luxury in the past have been in unique and personal experiences. Whether it was the seamstress who came home with special fabrics and made your occasion wear, the family jeweler who knew your taste and budget and showed you the most exclusive pieces or the furniture maker who made custom pieces for your space even if he had never made them before.
They made unique, on-of-a-kind pieces, which would not be replicated for anyone else. Not just that, it was genuine because they were interested in getting to know you.
You would recommend them to your close friends and inner circle and help them grow, organically and incrementally, fostering a lifelong bond.
This experience of getting to know your consumer very closely is being recreated by the industry today, with the help of digital. Once upon a time this experience was tactile, but not anymore. It is as much digital as tactile. Especially now, with overseas travel constraints, brands are discovering new strategies to attract and retain local shoppers.
Whether it is trying designer outfits in a virtual trying room, taking a virtual yacht tour, or getting coffee (which is a highly personalised experience), brands that are relevant are the ones listening to their consumers. But not just that, they personalise engagement with the community. And community is co-creation with the customer.
Designing personalised experiences whether through a simple application or an extensive VR and AR experience, the challenge and opportunity is in creating awe and translating an experience, while streamlining every offer. The focus is on the details – elegant design, unique shopping environment, superior customer service and attentive staff that cater to the individual’s needs.
Essentially, the question brands are asking themselves is - Who am I, what is my story and how do I connect with you?
Who am I, what is my story and how do I connect with you?
This means that customers do not feel obliged to buy, they can very well just want to discover and explore, just like I did. And that is perfectly acceptable.
After all the best consumer research is a genuine conversation.