Looking to go for a new age career? Are you cut out for one? Especially, a competent luxury manager? Read on to know if you fit the bill.
- As a luxury manager, it is your attitude and not your aptitude that can define your altitude.
- In this fast-evolving world, knowledge is the only differentiator. From knowing your brand to knowing your customer, ensure you have the upper hand.
- A luxury brand manager who assumes the role of a mentor can spearhead the transformation of an emerging luxury brand into a dominant market player.
Luxury brand management is all about analysis and planning of how to increase the perceived value of a luxury product. A luxury brand manager is the one who puts this plan into action.
To be a competent luxury manager, the following play a very important role.
1. ATTITUDE – ATTITUDE & ATTITUDE
Working for a luxury brand requires a certain attitude. One has to be well educated, well behaved, always look good and have a passion for excellence. One needs to know and like the products one sells. Promoting them has to be something one enjoys. Advising someone on what to wear requires creativity and imagination. Besides, one needs to develop good inter-relational skills — one will spend days interacting with people so one better inspire confidence. Being a good listener and having customer service awareness is key. Having a strong personality is also mandatory as one will be working for customers with strong personalities.
a). In the luxury business, one generally deals with a ‘cash rich but time poor’ consumer. Hence learning to respect other people’s time is the first key to success.
b). Besides, this consumer is far more knowledgeable, successful, well placed and charismatic than you can ever dream of. Engaging him with respect, patience, charm and knowledge will help develop a bond.
c). Remember, it is your attitude and not your aptitude that can define your altitude.
d). Be as authentic as your brand. Trust and integrity play a major role in showcasing your positive attitude.
2. THE LUXURY QUOTIENT
Luxury is a fine blend of ‘exclusivity’ and ‘extravagance’. Hence, the service a brand offers at retail is of great importance for the success of the brand. This means, the professionals working with the brand must become ’brand ambassadors’ who must speak the brand’s language. They must also act as the brand’s experts with intricate knowledge of the products. Nothing works better than a professional who knows the products in detail and is able to help customers with the minute details that highlight the workmanship, perfection and the labour that goes in creating a pièce de resistance.
a). In this fast evolving world, knowledge is the only differentiator. Heaps of information is available on the net – it is knowledge which differentiates you from anyone else. From knowing your brand to knowing your customer, ensure you have the upper hand.
b). Passion is the key to success. Working for a luxury brand goes beyond the realms of IQ and EQ. Your LQ or luxury quotient is the critical factor. Be informed of the latest trends, innovations, technologies and controversies that can impact your business.
c). Be a lifelong learner. The definition of luxury is ever evolving as times, economies and generations change. No longer does the classic definition of luxury hold true. What was luxury to the baby boomers is a necessity to Gen Z. Constant learning and upskilling is the key to remain relevant.
d). Attain a professional qualification. Equip yourself with basic management, marketing, and business skills that will help you to effectively manage a brand. A professional Master’s degree in luxury brand management is preferable as it will help you understand how the luxury market works and employ strategies accordingly.
3. SUBSTANCE WITH STYLE
Luxury houses possess zero tolerance for anything that is below average or of low quality. A brand wants people with ambition, determination and are career driven, besides loving their job. People with strong academic background are always preferred, so do not neglect studies. Mastering two languages including English will always give you an edge. Most famous fashion brands are global and one may need to interact with people in other countries. Since luxury brand management involves a high level of customer interaction, those with a natural flair for networking especially with the corporate class and the ability to build a rapport with key decisionmakers will do well for themselves in this industry. Thus it is essential for an individual working in this field to set a high standard of maintaining good quality customer relations and efficient time management skills.
a). It is essential for luxury brand managers to be in love with their product and believe that the company offers a value addition in terms of status and elegance to its client.
b). A luxury brand manager who assumes the role of a mentor can spearhead the transformation of an emerging luxury brand into a dominant market player.
c). As an individual, a luxury brand manager needs to develop a style of communication which is in line with the brand.
d). Whilst substance can be acquired via qualification and continued learning, do not ignore the style quotient. An ideal combination that works is that of 60% substance coupled with 40% style. Just substance or just style will not take you anywhere.
4. LUXURY MANAGER LIKE QUALITIES (LMLQ)
A luxury manager would ideally possess the following fine qualities to succeed in this competitive landscape:
a). Command over the English language: As a luxury manager, one needs to constantly communicate with colleagues, superiors, headquarters as also customers. Right from report writing to precis writing in grammatically immaculate language is a no brainer. One should be able to communicate via a tweet, a Whatsapp, an email and/or create headlines for a blog, Facebook / Instagram, story posts etc. Written and spoken English are definitely a basic minimum requirement. Any add on foreign language like French, Italian or even Mandarin can be an added advantage.
b). Command over nonverbal communication: The ability to be able to use your body, eyes, hands and feet to convey a confident stance is another must. When dealing with a wealthy client, deal as equals. Use all your body language, gestures, facial expressions and voice modulation skills to express your joy, passion and energy when servicing.
c). Etiquettes and mannerisms: A manager has to be a suave consultant before anything else. Master the art of dealing with the rich by ensuring the perfect manners and etiquette in any circumstances. It could be a pure sales environment or a social environment. Right from table manners to social etiquette, ensure that the softer side of your personality is reflected even when dealing with an unhappy customer.
d). Passion, empathy and emotion: Luxury is an emotional purchase that goes beyond necessity. Matching the enthusiasm of the client with your own display of the same, ensures a bond that is long lasting. Please appreciate the rationale behind the irrational choice of the client. In luxury, you must master the “art of emotion” and the ability to understand how your clients feel and perceive the experience. Sensitivity means to evaluate each interaction and personalise it accordingly using well-refined emotional intelligence, which makes the experience unique and aims to delight the customer.
e). Attention to detail: A luxury product goes into details which are otherwise insignificant to most. Likewise, you need to develop an acute sense of observing and appreciating the finer details of luxury. The touch of a gentle hand, the perfectly gift-wrapped product, the white-gloved service and the gentle goodbye, all add to the luxury experience. Luxury experiences are crafted through a multisensorial approach—this five-dimensional approach requires the highest attention to detail. Ensuring the highest courtesy and quality in client experience helps you to identify the precise details influencing the CX, i.e., choice of words, tone of voice, natural use of client name, the anticipation of needs through remembering client preferences, etc.
f). Strong leadership with excellent communications skills: Rising to every occasion and leading from the front with the spirit of multi-tasking is an excellent quality to nurture. A luxury manager is the sole representative of not only the brand but also the creator of the same. It is the brand’s dream vision, passion that is being consumed by the client via you. You truly become the face of the brand to the client. Make sure you put up a brave and strong face.
g). Appreciation of craft: Each luxury product is a piece of craft made painstakingly, using the best raw materials, the best manufacturing process with no compromises, by the best artisans who train for several years in the country of origin. Carry the story with passion to the client.
h). Good analytical skills: A luxury manager is expected to have good analytical skills to be able to analyse and react to any kind of customer need and situation. Modern technologies, geo political, environmental issues can all impact our business. A good luxury manager will be prepared for such eventualities.
i). Innovation, strategy & creativity: Successful brand managers are innovative and constantly ask themselves, “What else can be done?” “How can we do better than our competition?” They do not just follow what others are doing but come up with their own ideas and execution plans. Their innovative strategies always set a trend in the luxury market. A successful brand manager must therefore be creative and analytical at the same time.
j). A pleasing personality: A luxury manager is a perfect combination of substance with style. 60% substance mixed with 40% style. A natural charmer, selling luxury requires one to romance the customer. Desire is an intangible that can be further stimulated by soft and gentle romancing by a well-dressed, pleasing and charming individual. People invest in relations not products. In order to wow customers and colleagues in luxury retail, you need to be super confident, proactive and energetic. It’s your job to approach customers and build a rapport with them.
k). Honesty, integrity, authenticity & reliability: As a luxury consultant, you represent the brand that you work with. You need to imbibe the brand values into your personality to become an extension, the face of the brand. Remember, it takes a life time to build trust but one stupid mistake to destroy it. In the luxury business, reputation precedes apology.
l). Excellence is the key: Working in luxury goods goes beyond selling high-end products; it’s about selling a dream. Emotions are at the core in creating a luxury experience. This is what makes luxury management jobs so unique. Every small detail is of the highest excellence.
Working in the business of luxury thus is like being in an orchestra where various functions work together creating something beautiful and unique that is par excellence. Do you see yourself cut out for that?
Founder and CEO of Luxury Connect
Abhay Gupta is the Founder and CEO of Luxury Connect and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). He is widely recognised as a luxury expert by CNBC, CNN, NDTV Profit, Business India, Economic Times and has established luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, John Smedley, Tween Damat ADV, Arredo Classic into the Indian market. A regular speaker at many luxury forums, the Fondazione Altagama has also recognised his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India. Abhay is also the author of the book ‘The Incredible Indian Luxury Bazaar.’