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    Opinion: Why luxury brands need to rethink sales training

    Today’s discerning luxury consumers demand unique experiences, emotional connections, and meaningful engagement.
    Image: Getty Images
      Published   in Retail

    The luxury industry is facing a transformative period, making it essential for brands to revamp their training strategies.

    Most companies still rely on the traditional 4P framework: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. Developed in the 1960s, this model was suitable for an era of industrialization and mass production but is now inadequate for the luxury sector, which focuses on intangible aspects.

    Luxury products must symbolize storytelling and emotional value beyond their physical attributes.

    Pricing should reflect the perceived value of the brand story, not just material costs. Distribution should offer a seamless, relationship-building experience, and promotions should engage consumers on a deeper level, as literal promotions can damage brand equity. The product-focused 4Ps fail to meet these requirements.

    Today’s discerning luxury consumers, particularly Generation Z, demand unique experiences, emotional connections, and meaningful engagement, which the 4Ps framework fails to deliver.

    Introducing the 4Es: A new paradigm for luxury training#

    To thrive in this new era, luxury brands must adopt the 4Es: Emotion, Experience, Engagement, and Exclusivity. This framework aligns with contemporary luxury consumers’ expectations and necessitates a radical shift in sales training.

    Emotion

    Emotional connections drive desirability and high perceived value, leading to purchases at premium prices. Sales teams need to master brand storytelling, identify emotional triggers, and create bonds between clients and the brand.

    However, many salespeople focus on product features and quality, neglecting individual client insights and lifestyles. Questions like “What is your budget?” often kill inspiration.

    When a client buys a high-end kitchen, they may seek a serene space to entertain rather than to cook. A luxury SUV buyer may desire an escape from routine, not just a utility vehicle. A mansion buyer may add a trophy to their collection rather than plan to live there. Sales training should evoke emotions that resonate deeply with clients and create emotional connections.

    Experience

    Luxury clients crave unique, brand-specific, exceptional experiences. Yet, many salespeople deliver transactions rather than inspiration. Sales training should emphasize why delivering these experiences is critical, supported by data on client loyalty loss. Understanding the importance of certain aspects helps recalibrate focus. Experienced salespeople often struggle to provide a desire-creating experience that wows clients.

    Engagement

    Engagement extends beyond transactions, building long-term relationships and fostering a community. Sales training must incorporate strategies for continuous engagement, leveraging digital tools to maintain consistent, personal connections with clients.

    Exclusivity

    Luxury clients buy the anticipation of a positive perception shift (self and others) when they purchase a luxury brand. Thus, exclusivity is critical, starting with treating clients as individuals. Arrogance, which is common at the point of sale, is never luxurious. Sales representatives must make clients feel special through personalized services and bespoke products. Training should highlight how to make clients feel valued.

    Transforming sales training in times of disruption#

    The shift from the 4Ps to the 4Es demands a dramatic transformation in sales training. Traditional methods, focused on product features and transactional interactions, fall short in today’s market.

    Sales training must prioritize emotional intelligence, teaching representatives to connect with clients personally. This includes active listening, empathy, and compelling storytelling to create emotional bonds. Every client interaction should feel unique and tailored. Training programs should emphasize personalization, understanding client preferences, anticipating needs, and creating exclusive experiences.

    Luxury clients expect seamless online and offline experiences. Sales training must equip teams with digital skills to navigate online platforms, engage clients virtually, and provide a consistent brand experience. Building long-term relationships is key to client loyalty. Sales representatives should maintain ongoing, meaningful contact with clients, involving personalized communication, exclusive events, and a deep understanding of each client’s journey with the brand.

    Luxury brands must urgently rethink their sales training approaches to stay relevant. By abandoning the outdated 4Ps and embracing the 4Es, brands can create deeper connections with clients and drive sustainable growth. The time to act is now, or risk being left behind in a rapidly changing industry.

    This is an opinion piece by Daniel Langer, CEO of Équité, recognized as one of the “Global Top Five Luxury Key Opinion Leaders to Watch.” He serves as an executive professor of luxury strategy and pricing at Pepperdine University in Malibu and as a professor of luxury at NYU, New York. Daniel has authored best-selling books on luxury management in English and Chinese, and is a respected global keynote speaker.

    Daniel conducts masterclasses on various luxury topics across the world. As a luxury expert featured on Bloomberg TV, Forbes, The Economist, and others; Daniel holds an MBA and a Ph.D. in luxury management, and has received education from Harvard Business School. Sign up for his masterclasses at the Jing Academy. Follow him: LinkedIn and Instagram.

    All opinions expressed in the column are his own and do not reflect the official position of Jing Daily.

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