When you hear the word luxury, what comes to mind? Ideas about what makes a luxury lifestyle have evolved in recent years. Some consider interior design services a luxury. This makes communicating the value of design services to potential clients all the more important and challenging.
The solution lies in understanding the fundamental differences in marketing luxury goods versus luxury experiences. Which are you selling?
“Luxury experiences are by far the most powerful driver of luxury spending everywhere. Collectively, they make up nearly $1 trillion of the annual global total,” said Jean-Marc Bellaïche, a former senior partner at Boston Consulting Group and co-author of the firm’s third flagship report on luxury branding (January 2014).
“As older consumers realize that they have all the ‘things’ they want — and as younger people favor experiences they can share with their friends — consumers are spending more on everything from dining at five-star restaurants to exotic vacation travel.”
New luxury is never about price, overindulgence or pedigree, instead it’s about personalization, customization and intimate, unforgettable experiences. 2014 is poised to be one of the strongest years in residential spending since 2009, especially in the remodel market. With this in mind, designers must create a new sales conversation, one that elevates interior design beyond the process of renovation and into the experience of transforming a home.
In many cases, prospects who seek experiential luxury tend to be less interested in visible displays of status like expensive watches, cars or jewelry. For luxury car owners — remember luxury vehicle advertisers usually hit their mark — a purchase confirms that they have made the right decision and reaffirms their status as members of an elite and privileged group.
Prospects who seek experiential luxury usually are fulfilling the need to be something. A stay at a luxury spa, resort, fine dining or vacations in exotic locales do make for good stories to tell but the rewards — instant pleasure, self-confidence and security — are not always visible to others.
Understanding the emotions underlying clients’ decisions to purchase luxury products allows designers to curate an experience for which you can charge a premium. Winning the sale lies in your ability to unlock the mystery of your customers’ values. Who are your ideal clients and influencers? How do they want to do business with your design brand? Most importantly, what do they value and why?
How to build a luxury interior design brand and how to offer luxury experiences are just two of the topics that will be discussed at this year’s Business of Luxury Design (BOLD) Summit, a two-day event offered to the discerning designer who focuses on the luxury market. Sponsored by the American Society of Interior Designers, the conference will be held at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Aug. 28-29, with a kickoff VIP event on the Aug. 27.
Organized by Julia Molloy, one of the industry’s leading operations specialists, the summit features top design leaders, including Vicente Wolf, Mario Buatta, Clodagh and architect Richard Landry. A media panel with editors from leading design and luxury lifestyle publications such as Dwell, ROBB Home & Style, Traditional Home and Hospitality Design teaches designers about boosting their brand value through media exposure. The summit, which is CEU-approved, also includes a billing model deep-dive exercise.
If you want to create a luxury design firm, everything about your firm has to be branded as luxury. To paraphrase MasterCard, the value of a luxury experience is priceless.
For more information about the BOLD Summit, visit www.bold-summit/joinus.
Kim Kuhteubl, a producer, writer, and member of the Producers Guild of America, will present at the BOLD Summit. Her company MeByDesign works with interior designers, product manufacturers and hosts in the home category on brand strategy and audience engagement through publication, social media and licensing.