Luxury lies in the eyes of the beholder

“We’re a luxury brand.”  When this statement is made by a marketer of a service provider, I am forced to think deeply about what constitutes luxury for the customer. And often I find, that marketers of services who segment themselves as premium, confuse their perception of luxury with the more conventional definition of luxury as seen in products – where luxury is  rare, expensive, and beautiful.

Luxury has so many dimensions when it comes to a service. For example, when a mother visits a luxury childcare facility for a pediatrician visit with a baby, her concept of luxury starts from the moment she arrives – is there is ample parking, is the entry quick and comfortable, is the doctor on schedule, is there a private and quiet area for nursing the baby, is there a handy microwave for heating milk, or home delivery of medicines, and so on. Privacy and timeliness are key elements of luxury for a mother when outside her home. Whether the facility has fabric or leather sofas, or whether you installed Jaguar fittings in the washroom are secondary to her experience. Yet in India we find many service providers create superficial luxury persona simply with  fancy receptionists, and expensive interiors.

Another example – online  groceries, here luxury should be defined by time – moving beyond time-saving to time-rewarding; beyond simply showing products on a website to planning a truly time-rewarding experience for the shopper – great search and sorting, add forgotten items to the order up to a few hours before dispatch, same day delivery, reminders based on prediction of items running out, calorie count of food, organic alternatives, recommendations based on body weight and common ailments, and so on.

One last example is online investing – luxury can be so much more than the fact that my money is getting systematically invested in a judiciously selected assortment of mutual funds. With investment, luxury should be about creating a feeling of abundance and wealth in the consumer’s mind. Life is finite. Money can be saved but time cannot. Educate him/her about how much they can spend on life today – take some of those vacations because the future returns on the money they’re investing allow them that luxury.  A friend who is a financial expert remarked – “Investment is not about the future. It is to guide you on how best you can live today, without worrying about the future.” A premium investment service will give me ideas on how best to spend my money to create maximum joy and meaning in my life – for some it may be a holiday, for some it may be a way to contribute to social cause, or for some it’s a guilt-free purchase of those expensive noise-cancelling Bose headphones ;)
bose noise cancelling headphones
Within a few moments offline or even a single interaction online, customers can perceive whether this service defines luxury as superficial or personalized. Luxury should be uniquely defined for each segment. It’s like clay in the hands of a good marketer. The ones that get it will shape it in delightful ways to ensure those customers are sticky!

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