ROME: Luxury groups such as Valentino, Gucci and LVMH are prioritising experiences in a bid to forge stronger relationships with their high-value clientele.
Valentino, the Italian fashion house, will open a new boutique in New York this year, and a group of its most loyal customers can pay to attend the launch party, and meet many celebrities in the process.
"Everything has become more experiential," Dante D'Angelo, brand and consumer development director at Valentino, told Bloomberg BusinessWeek. "It's a new way of providing exclusivity, making customers feel important, unique."
To further enhance its capabilities in this area, Valentino has formed a partnership with Luxup, an online "club" promising exclusive products, special offers and "VIP treatment" for subscribers.
As an example, users who pay for a $6,450 scheme being run by Valentino, Loewe and Dunhill in Hong Kong receive a personalised three hour session with a stylist and photographer while shopping.
Similarly, paying $8,000 for a shopping visit to one of Roland Mouret's branches in London also secures the buyer premium tickets and backstage passes to a fashion show, and the chance to meet Mouret himself.
"Offering the latest must-have isn't the only basis on which brands can compete," James Corsellis, the co-founder of Luxup, said.
LVMH, the world's biggest luxury goods group, has also partnered with Luxup. More broadly, the company is slowing the growth of its store network to focus on personal service and tailored products.
"The group's strategy now is to limit store openings," Bernard Arnault, its chief executive, told analysts at a results presentation. "We want to focus on leather products with high value added."
Gucci, another Italian operator, has invited many of its most valuable consumers to events in the worlds of fashion and equestrianism, as well as the Cannes Film Festival and tours of its workshop in Florence.
"[We] aim to engage the client in the values at the core of Gucci's DNA," Patrizio di Marco, Gucci's CEO, said. "Getting our clients to understand how much history, tradition, quality, and passion there is behind our work means winning their loyalty."
Bain & Co, the consultancy, predicted that personal luxury goods sales would rise by 10% to €212bn in 2012, and also cited a "desire for rare and rewarding experiences" as a key trend in the industry.
Data sourced from Bloomberg BusinessWeek/Reuters; additional content by Warc staff