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Luxury brands need to say “no”

Luxury drinks brands need to learn to say “no” more in order to succeed in today’s tough retail climate, according to one of the UK’s leading brand strategists.

Brand strategist Peter Cross

“Luxury is about saying ‘no’. It’s about maintaining exclusivity and scarcity. Brands who are brazen enough to take the high ground will be able to separate themselves from their competitors,” said Peter Cross (pictured), brand strategist at retail marketing agency Yellowdoor.

Speaking at the G.H. Mumm and Perrier-Jouët Champagne Assembly at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel on Friday, Cross warned of the dangers of being too keen to please.

“Last year, the luxury industry said ‘yes’ a lot – to new markets, new categories and regional thinking – it bent over backwards to allow consumers to have it their way.

“But people want something even more when they can’t have it, it’s human nature,” he said, though he stressed that retaining exclusivity is not enough.

“You have to have integrity, values, a story to tell, and a clearly defined place in the market,” he said, citing the economic crisis and the digital revolution as having changed the way we shop.

“Luxury items have shifted from being out of reach to being accessible, and we expect brands to filter into our everyday lives. With consumer knowledge up and blogs and Twitter taken more seriously, today’s shoppers are empowered,” he warned.

Cross ended his speech by speaking of the extraordinary power of goodwill gestures.

“Small gifts, like extra laces with a pair of Churches shoes, can make all the difference and inspire brand loyalty. Understanding the subtleties of selling is crucial,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pierre Aymeric du Cray, global sales director of G.H. Mumm and Perrier-Jouët, spoke of moving beyond the “bling” era in Champagne.

“Consumers are less inclined to buy luxury brands as a status symbols to show off with, and are instead looking for genuine brand values,” he said.

“Today’s consumers want a sense of timelessness in the luxury goods they buy – something they can pass on to the next generation,” he added, citing personal customer relationships as key to success in 2012.

“Consumers that are spending a lot of money on luxury goods are now looking for a sense of belonging, to feel part of the brands’ family.

“2012 will be all about craftsmanship, and a refinement of brand values,” he said.

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