Kidding aside, the truth is that the decline has had serious effects beyond “the numbers.” Today, the luxury industry is faced with a shift from bricks-and-mortar retail to e-commerce, a dip in sales around the globe, a talent retention situation and an erosion of traditional luxury values. Cries are being heard across the watch, luxury, clothing and accessories markets. They need guidance, connection, support, empathy and above all — inspiration.
That’s what coaches do: we support, hold accountable, inspire, motivate and guide. In this vein, I’ve come up with five fundamental shifts that will help any flailing luxury brand (and its team) bounce back right away.
Let Go of Your Story
As Tony Robbins says: “Divorce the story — marry the truth.” In order to move ahead, you have to let go of the story you have been telling yourself about your situation (e.g. “Technology is moving too fast” or “I have no budget.” These may be truths, but the point is you have to shift your perspective, with the aim of seeing that things aren’t as bad as you think they are, in order to effect change.
Here’s the “story” the luxury industry has been slammed with: “Luxury is not really luxury anymore.”
Way back in 2007, the book “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster” — by Dana Thomas, was released. It was a book that radically rippled through the industry. In it, Thomas basically showed what was happening to the luxury industry, calling out “the shift from small family businesses of beautifully handcrafted goods to global corporations selling to the middle market.” And she continued: “In order to make luxury ‘accessible,’ tycoons have stripped away all that has made it special.”
She was right.
But does that have to be the truth forever? What if we reversed the story? What if we told ourselves that the tables have not been turned — and made it so? All we would have to go back to trading on would be that which is irreplaceable about us. This means, above all, three things:
- Legacy — It is impossible to replicate legacy, origin and tradition. That, above all, is your story. Find it, dust it off, rewrite it.
- Craftsmanship — Luxury owes its quality to the purveyance of being made by hand. In recent years though, this meaning has been overused and even diluted. More luxury companies have the means to pave the way and lead by example, from relocating production to reassigning hands.
- Exclusivity — We know this; the cult objects are the desired objects. Create the cult again. You do this by cultivating rarity — limited editions = limited access.
Some of us, in response to the crisis, went “premium.” You know who you are. To move back up, we must rediscover ourselves — and be that. The path to discovering ourselves is to get back to doing what we do well, what we love to do, and not what we “should” do.
Here are my two cents on two powerful ways to get back in touch with your true selves, luxury brands.
Embrace your elitism. We wish to reclaim the domain of the wealthy in the world of luxury. Otherwise, read our lips – it is not luxury. How do you do this? It’s simple. Pair the right messaging (see below) with high prices. Premium is not luxury, so first and foremost: reposition your brand, and be OK with it. If a brand is truly luxury and wants to differentiate itself, it should target upper-class audiences across the board — those people who value the brand most and will pay a premium for it.
Stop caring what anyone else is doing. Luxury is not comparative. It’s time to be an individual again. Follow your own brand, your own vision, your own path. What the competition is doing does not matter. Not even on Instagram.
Many think the whole personal development world is about “being positive” and saying “yes” a lot — but it’s actually equally about saying “no.” When we say “yes” to everything and do not set boundaries with people, we often feel stressed, overwhelmed and burned out. Sure — we want to please people and sometimes, we think that by saying no we will miss an opportunity. But, dear luxury industry, the simple fact is that you cannot be all things to all people, and you cannot hop on every bandwagon.
The first step in learning how to set boundaries is to try to uncover what your personal limits and guidelines are. To me, the luxury industry’s defined limits don’t just have to do with product (see point 1) — but applies very much to their marketing guidelines and tactics as well. Especially on social media.
Here’s my case:
- Luxury brands that embraced social media are able to inform, engage, address criticism, answer questions and so on. And they can still do so. The key is to maintain very strict voice guidelines — be authoritative, be formal, be luxury and so on.
- And here’s another key: social platforms have offered luxury brands a huge opportunity to define their images and aesthetics on their own terms, and to convey their personalities via….you guessed it, influencers. We are here to argue that luxury requires no stars. The celebrities wear and covet you, anyway. Let them be your UGC — they will! What’s our point? It’s this: Hermès does not need the endorsement of a Taylor Swift. It is Hermès.
- From knowing who you are, know, also, who you are not.
Live With Enthusiasm
The industry has grown a bit weary. To be “weary” means to lose your sense of pleasure, or not feel the joy you are supposed to feel from anything because your challenges have been going on too long.
It’s time to jazz things up. When the difficulties are taking longer than we expected — don’t allow weariness in. Here’s how:
- Reclaim your passion — Focus on delivering excellence by focusing on what you love. What you do is a really big deal. Get excited about it (again). You are there for people celebrating their biggest moments. Luxury — we want you back.
- Serve, don’t sell. When you start focusing on serving others while being really grateful for your (super cool) job, that’s when you forget about the fears, the negativity, etc. surrounding luxury sales. You will carry on with your life holding your head high, forming your environment and you won’t see the obstacles anymore, as there will be none. All the doors will open one by one as you’re doing the exact thing what you were born to do, to deliver your own message.
That’s the power of working “with enthusiasm” — which is the name of my coaching brand. With enthusiasm means: “intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval.” Translation: that means that in life, or in dating, or in work – going about it “with enthusiasm” means going about it “fully charged.” Try just this one point, and see what happens.
Moving the needle means making the mission personal, embracing innovation, and taking risks. I would suggest that this create the space for a new kind of talent – varied talent. This means – talent you have not considered before. The thing that has caused the most stagnation, in my opinion, is that — not having bet on new blood, talent from other industries — who could have fostered a pivot and a big mind-set shift, of which the industry is in desperate need.
But that will take faith. I recently read a cool New Yorker cartoon of a guy standing in front of his boss’ desk, where the boss is saying to him: “Your proposal is innovative. Unfortunately we can’t use it, because we’ve never tried that before.”
I’ve got news for you, industry. It’s time to entertain that proposal.
I believe that luxury elevates the soul. It is the stuff of dreams. It is the symbol of success. With a solid mind-set and an effort to understand and implement the above at any and every brand, I know that luxury will rise again to its rightful place in all our hearts.
Keren Eldad is the founder of With Enthusiasm coaching, a certified personal and executive coach (CPC, CEC) and an award-winning Luxury Marketing expert.
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