High-end brands of all kinds depend more than ever before on retaining a relatively small number of high-value customers. So why are they so uncomfortable asking those customers for feedback?

Last week’s vacation in Madrid was a real balancing act between dropping in on the best and brightest luxury retailers to see what’s cooking while simultaneously not allowing Mrs. Israel to make them vastly more successful than they already are. Despite a little stress in that department, I had a great time watching pros like Loewe, Hermès, and Prada, as well as an exciting number of luxury brands which were new names to me.

All this luxury brought to mind a subject we’ve looked at for some time now – the riddle of why that group of retailers which is most dependent on building long-term customer relationships stumbles so badly when it comes to soliciting feedback.

Why It’s More Important in Luxury. Think about luxury brands as compared to Main Street brands. Luxury brands’ customer lists are comprised of a smaller number of customers, each of whom represents a higher lifetime customer value. Losing one of these customers due to an unfavorable experience with product or the buying experience is a very damaging proposition.

In fact, many of these customers are what researchers call “aspirational” buyers. An economic up-and-comer might spend 1 or 2% of her pay for the year on a single piece, simply because of the way it makes her feel. This can start a long-term relationship with the brand, which will grow as her own economic situation prospers. If that early store experience leaves her feeling otherwise, however, that lifetime of brand loyalty can be irreparably damaged. (For more on this, see our post on The Value of One Lost Customer.)

Why Can’t They Ask? So why don’t you typically see luxury retail brands asking for customer feedback? We see two main reasons.

First, one of the cardinal rules of positioning your brand at the top of the luxury pile is that everything about you needs to resonate and reaffirm that you are already the best. Even a tacit acknowledgement that there could be room to improve can run counter to that message.

Second, consumers everywhere first got comfortable with the notion of using the web and technology in general to give feedback on Main Street. This means that the most effective ways to gather and share feedback can have – if we’re being honest – a somewhat pedestrian feel. I think we can all understand why a company like Nordstrom might hesitate before pulling a page out of a company like Target’s playbook, regardless of how effective it is for Target.

And that’s a problem, because luxury customers – like everyone else – are embracing technology to share their thoughts about these brands with everyone else in the world through social media sites of all kinds.

Not doing so themselves simply makes a luxury retailer the last one to get the news when something's going very right or very wrong in the field, which is an expensive mistake.

How can they make the leap? The economy has experienced more than a hiccup – it’s experienced a sea change which has altered the way consumers think about how they spend their money for a long time to come.

As luxury brands reconfigure themselves to survive and – in some cases – prosper, a vital element will be learning to find ways to measure their customer experience in ways which are congruent with their larger brand experience.

The good news is that this can be done very effectively using tools and skills already on hand in luxury brands everywhere. Next week we’ll distill our thoughts on how to do this into the three most important Luxury Retailers’ Rules for Feedback.

Until then, have a happy and safe New Year’s!

Views: 13


You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh

Comment by Meghan Reed on December 31, 2009 at 10:45am
Great post! Can't wait to read Luxury Retailers’ Rules for Feedback.




Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries


PepsiCo exec Lisa Walsh shares path to leadership

Industry leader Lisa Walsh, vice president of PepsiCo Customer Management, has risen through the ranks at the company since j -More

Checkers, Philly Pretzel Factory seize opportunity at Wal-Mart

Checkers and Philly Pretzel Factory are hoping to benefit from Wal-Mart's popularity by embracing new franchise development o -More

Quickserve eateries entice customers with local and sustainable angle

Locally-sourced, conscientious ingredients are gracing menus and grabbing loyal consumers at an increasing number of restaura -More

Galbani® Mascarpone. Gold Standard True Italian Taste.
Italy has a flavor all its own. When it comes to cheese, chefs who know choose Galbani. For irresistibly savory risottos and pastas, try classic Galbani mascarpone. Its rich, creamy goodness makes it perfect for favorites like tiramisu and cannoli. Galbani mascarpone, one of the fine brands from Lactalis Culinary. For paring suggestions, click here.


Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $50 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

Gen Z, the First True Digital Generation, Represents the Future Foodservice Consumer

Gen Z, the first true digital generation, represents the future foodservice consumer. They're a generation on the move that strongly prioritizes speed of service, technology, and having what they want, when they want it. Millennials, more so than older generations, prefer to visit restaurants that offer new and unique foods and flavors. Gen X and Boomers converge on several preferences—such as the importance of a convenient location.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Celebrates Its 500th New Restaurant Opening

Red Robin's 500th new restaurant opening will open on Aug. 4 at 11 a.m., in Milpitas, Calif. at the Great Mall of the Bay Area.

Darden Completes Sale Of Red Lobster To Golden Gate Capital

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) and Golden Gate Capital today announced that Golden Gate has completed the acquisition of the Red Lobster business and certain other related assets and assumed liabilities for approximately $2.1 billion in cash.

Dunkin' Donuts Announces Plans For Seven New Restaurants In Duluth, Minnesota With New Franchisees Brian And Sharon Weidendorf

Dunkin' Donuts announced today the signing of a multi-unit store development agreement with new franchisees, Brian and Sharon Weidendorf, to develop seven restaurants in Duluth, Minnesota and the surrounding areas. The first restaurant is planned to open in spring 2015.

Wendy's Names Brandon Solano Senior Vice President of Marketing

The Wendy's Company (NASDAQ: WEN) announced today that Brandon Solano, 43, a veteran brand builder and product innovator, has been named Senior Vice President of Marketing.


If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.


TED: Ze Frank: Are you human? - Ze Frank (2014)

Have you ever wondered: Am I a human being? Ze Frank suggests a series of simple questions that will determine this. Please relax and follow the prompts. Let's begin …

TED: Heather Barnett: What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime - Heather Barnett (2014)

Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this talk to find out.

TED: Shih Chieh Huang: Sculptures that’d be at home in the deep sea - Shih Chieh Huang (2014)

When he was young, artist Shih Chieh Huang loved taking toys apart and perusing the aisles of night markets in Taiwan for unexpected objects. Today, this TED Fellow creates madcap sculptures that seem to have a life of their own—with eyes that blink, tentacles that unfurl and parts that light up like bioluminescent sea creatures.

TED: Nikolai Begg: A tool to fix one of the most dangerous moments in surgery - Nikolai Begg (2013)

Surgeons are required every day to puncture human skin before procedures — with the risk of damaging what's on the other side. In a fascinating talk, find out how mechanical engineer Nikolai Begg is using physics to update an important medical device, called the trocar, and improve one of the most dangerous moments in many common surgeries.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service