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  • MAP Asia Pacific Ltd

‘Luxury’ Is in the Product, Right? Wrong

Recently, I was in the Paris flagship store of one of the world’s most admired luxury brands — a top ten luxury brand known for its iconic fashion items and accessories. Upon entering the store, you felt a massive amount of security personnel present. After passing them, I was immediately asked what I was looking for by a sales associate. When I told the store staff I was just looking around, they allowed me to browse. However, there was always someone following and observing me. The experience felt intimidating, at best, not luxurious.

Then, I looked for some sneakers, and, mysteriously, the store staff disappeared. Everyone seemed busy with other clients, and there was no interest in servicing me. When I was finally helped, there was no brand storytelling, no true attention paid, and not even the slightest attempt at making the experience feel special. After my purchase, which took them forever to process, there was no attempt to register my name or email me with any follow-up communication.

Now, rewind a couple of months earlier. I visited the US car dealership of a luxury sports car brand. The behavior of the staff can be described with only one word: arrogant. I was told that the brand is so successful that it’s hard to get a car and that people even pay significantly higher than the sticker price for these cars. The message? Be happy with the inventory we have because someone else will buy it if you don’t. The entire purchase process was a drag — zero experience creation and zero customer care.

Then, on a recent flight from the US to Europe in first class, I had to wait double the usual time for check-in and was told it was due to COVID-19. Everything took much longer and was far less convenient. On the plane, the food and wine options were drastically reduced, there was no pre-flight service anymore, and the airline’s first-class service was what would have felt like premium economy service before the pandemic. And during the flight, I was told at least three times by the flight attendants that they were very sorry about the poor service, but all the adjustments were because of the pandemic.

These are three examples from three different categories. Yet, one question becomes evident: What is a luxury, really? In all three cases, the brands were extremely confident about charging enormous premiums for their products. But when it came to service, the experience was so bad that I regretted even entering their establishments. And while it is always easy to make excuses, when a customer leaves and feels like they aren’t valued, there was simply no luxury experienced.



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