The Ingredients of Luxury Success

Why do luxury brand launches reveal so little about the power of the brand and so much about the appropriateness or not of the people tasked with running the business? If the intent is to create a new market-leading customer experience, then we should first increase our own chances of identifying the “ideal leaders and employees” with the right skills (brand creation) and volition (open-minded, entrepreneurial). That is rarely accomplished by limiting the search to a big or established brand within the sector.

I was reminded of this a few months back with a wealthy Asian family, who have splashed US$140 million transforming  a luxury hotel business. Great thought has gone into the “ideal customer” and the sensory experience. Young, enthusiastic hoteliers abound alongside one or two seasoned luxury hoteliers. Yet impressive interiors, and a friendly welcome cannot masquerade the significant challenge drawing a well-informed, super-wealthy leisure and corporate crowd to an unfashionable corner of London with little obvious excitement on the doorstep.  Meet the hotel leader and the sales and marketing manager, and you are immediately struck by the massive disconnect between their “past” and their probable ability to transform the property’s immediate “future”. Particularly one highly dependent on maximising “premium” suite occupancy (creating a siren call not a whimper to the property). Dig a little further and you find their past success has largely come from a “market need” (leveraging an established luxury brand’s equity), a “competency” (attract and deliver a competitive luxury hotel experience) and a passion (understated elegance). When you are working in world-famous businesses or luxury brands those skills and behaviours make great sense. When you have a small brand in an experimental location seeking to attract highly discerning customers, you need an entirely different set of leadership skills and volition.

Key Tip: Just because an individual has been a “star” in a top-ranked business, don’t be blindsided by his or her “past”. Focus on your firm’s immediate future and ask yourself, what skills and behaviours do we need to achieve our desired results? If you are a young or largely unknown luxury brand that must punch above its’ own weight in order to attract your ideal clients, it is by exception, not the norm that you will find the “right” people in established businesses within your sector. Counter-intuitively, the longer the tenure they have spent in an established brand, the less their probable “worth” to you. 

© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.





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