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Layers of luxury

On a literal level, luxury is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s roughing-it is another’s glamping.

Broadly speaking, luxury is when the hassle of unforeseen details are taken care of. It’s when you don’t need to be bothered by making annoying little decisions, to make your experience a better one. Someone has thoughtfully gone before you and taken care of it so your path in unhindered.

In retail, it translates to having a seamless experience, from arriving through the front door, to leaving with bags full, without a single bump in the path-to-purchase road.

In 2017, Chanel brought the ‘Mademoiselle Privé’ Tour to Hong Kong. It ran for two weeks, and along with an extensive exhibition, workshops were held to take customers through the finer workings of selected, iconic Chanel pieces. I was lucky enough to nab a seat at the already booked-out Chanel No. 5 fragrance workshop - where the highlight was meeting one of only five artisans who hand-tie and wax seal every Chanel No 5 bottle of perfume sold.

The session started with two hosts who took turns sharing the floor to deliver the talk in both Mandarin and English. About half-way through, after a quick show of hands, it turned out that I was the only non-Mandarin speaker. In the spirit of saving time, it was swiftly decided to bring in an interpreter just for me. This took them all of 30 seconds for them to organise, and without skipping a beat, on went the talk, with everyone still being catered for.

How luxury translates to a retail setting doesn’t always lie in high-end finishes, or top-quality products. It can lie in creating a customer journey that anticipates their requirements, before the customer even thinks of it. It’s about removing any awkward forks in the road, so the customer naturally associates the seamless shopping experience with the brand.

For a diehard Chanel fan, any Chanel is good Chanel. But even to the undevoted, where Chanel really shone, was their focus on the customer, and never compromising their experience with the brand. Foreseeing problems and solving them quietly adds luxury to any retail experience.


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