LONDON: Luxury brands, including Hermès and LVMH, have developed experiential marketing strategies that enable consumers to see at first-hand how products are made.
Hermès has opted to take a selection of its craftsmen on tour to major cities as part of its Festival des Métiers program, currently in London, which shows them at work and demonstrates the expertise involved in creating top-end items.
"We want to demonstrate that for us, craftsmanship is something that happens everyday," Guillaume de Seynes of Hermès told the Financial Times. "That it isn't about history or restoring old things, but about now."
As well as watching craftsmen at work, visitors can also talk to them and can discover some interesting facts that begin to justify the price tags that luxury goods carry.
De Seynes cited the example of a woman talking to a silk engraver, who had been with Hermès for 30 years, and asking how many scarves she had made in that time.
She was surprised at the answer of 39. "She suddenly realised that one woman might work on one scarf print for an entire year," said de Seynes.
He added that the festival, which lasts for seven days in each city visited, leads to increased footfall in bricks and mortar stores, and noted that in Seattle there had been a 20% uplift in store traffic during the following week.
While Hermès has gone to the customer, LVMH has invited the customer to come to it, when it opens 40 of its ateliers across the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Poland to the public over a weekend as part of its second Journées Particulières event.
In China, luxury brands are also having to devise experiental strategies to entice consumers, since physical stores now abound in the major cities. Top jeweller Chow Tai Fook recently flew 200 customers to Hong Kong for an exclusive auction and dinner.
"VIPs love auctions," Adrian Cheng, executive director at Chow Tai Fook, told the Wall Street Journal.
"Before, customers liked to go to parties around the world. Now they want exclusive preview dinners. Before, they wanted museum tours. Now they'd like to meet an artist. The experience they want is evolving."
Data sourced from Financial Times, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff