At zai, we have an open-door policy. We ski, hike, eat and drink with our friends in the glorious Swiss Alpine surrounds we are privileged to call home, sharing our experiences and creative endeavours. Our clients effectively become family members.
But what does luxury really mean today? And how does it relate to substance and meaning in our everyday lives? Products are judged against their price and which rung they occupy on the ‘luxury’ ladder – but why should somebody feel an actual need for a high-end commodity?
Luxury lifestyle companies’ have internal machinery that measures customer reactions. Marketing departments formulate plans, programs and promotions that measure sales increases. Brand DNA is ascertained, ideas and concepts are hammered out and conclusions are drawn from data analysis. But has anybody asked, along the way, what a customer journey or experience actually means?
That’s what we’re doing now. We’ve created what we call Unique Feeling Perceptions (‘UFPs’), which will help breathe new life into our business. When it comes to business solutions, the customer – and touching the customer’s soul – should be the focal point. Ethics, respect, love and feeling are at the core of this mission. We take inspiration from Mother Earth when it comes to forging relationships with our fellow humans. It’s a model that puts honesty and reliability, rather than money, at the heart of an on-going quest to formulate a new, nobler form of luxury.
The new luxury paradigm is very family focussed. Important areas within it to consider include:
1) Family focus versus community thinking
2) Family management versus single membership
3) Family evolution versus regression
Our philosophy on these areas established, it is upon these pillars that we hope to build a profound bond between our products and our customers. This will result in return on investment, profit optimisation and much, much more – but what counts the most is a positively loaded experience for our entire client base.
We plan to dive into clients’ emotional world, focus on their senses, and revive buried dreams that have so often been suppressed by behaviour patterns. Such dreams are often linked to childhood memories – “Back then, when we had time, and felt safe and secure…” We call this, quite simply, “Family Spirit”. Customer experience management and customer journey management are inextricably linked. Success or failure is dependent upon tapping into this link.
When it comes to diving into the philosophy of family spirit, we want to move people, to touch their emotions, and to communicate community participation and a focus on nature, remaining authentic throughout. To that end, we need to slow down the churn of everyday life. We must create a new, state-of-the-art model for events – a clear, simple approach that customers can relate to, and which gets back to our roots by offering customers the life-enhancing use of our products. Our events should encompass the spirit of these new objectives, resulting in awesome experiences.
When it comes to family focus blended with community thinking, trust, participation, honesty, feelings and emotions should bind our family as if by blood. Community thinking, meanwhile, still allows any individual member to explore on their own at any time.
Family management versus single membership can be adapted to both BtoB and BtoC business strategies, throughout which we try to combine and integrate processes into one system and make the most of a digitalised world. Today’s systems can work against each other (inter-personal envy can destroy potential sales) so inclusivity is paramount, as is global authenticity.
Offering transparency with choice – with both the whats and the hows – forms the basis and focal point of “family spirit”. All brand promises are to be conveyed concisely, with clarity, and in keeping with the brand philosophy and image – and must, without exception, be kept, honesty being one of our principal objectives. Generally speaking, the simpler the better (although a minimalist approach can, of course, be challenging, since an enterprise’s communication needs to describe its key attributes and tendencies accurately as well as sharply). There is the potential, many would say, for a competitive atmosphere to arise here: I hold a different view. When it comes to a network, a unit is a stronger entity than any single family member.
Family spirit – the heart of The New Luxury Paradigm
Values change with time. Decisions are based on both emotional and rational factors. These must be defined and integrated in a targeted way. In this area, we must compare characteristic touch points, create contact points, then express the same variables both physically and digitally. Family evolution versus regression in the coming generations is packed with challenges: but challenges are there to be embraced.
It is more important than ever that we manage customer interaction across our entire enterprise. With customer touch points long gone, we must optimise client experiences across multiple channels and product lines. We must start to create effective, increasingly customised customer experiences for real-time enjoyment. To gain a clear competitive advantage on all fronts, our resources must be dedicated towards exclusivity over maintaining the tedium of the status quo. With that strategy in place, everybody will perform substantially better across the whole of our enterprise, from profitability to customer retention.
The challenge is also the goal. Customer experience programs will fundamentally change customer interaction and how it is managed. Greater efficiency requires long-term focus and a commitment to transformation. In order for all of us to achieve better business results, we must consistently generate optimal customer experiences.
The higher a brand positions itself on the luxury scale, the more critical the degree of customer experience management. And the differentiator, in the new luxury paradigm, is family management. It’s all about expectations for family members over single community members. You have to map-out and understand the whole flow of the family experience, which results in a more authentic, more profound understanding of the customer touch points required.
The factor that binds family focus, family management and family evolution is family core values – principles that emphasise the emotional over the material.
What matters most is the complete customer relationship, encompassing how each experience is orchestrated, how the bumps are ridden and what the customer’s perception is of that experience along the way. Businesses need to manage these elements in a holistic way in order to truly understand what their customers want. The result? Increased loyalty and, ultimately, higher profitability.
And there we have it: a carefully planned, thoughtful, continually monitored and flawlessly executed strategy – the new luxury paradigm.
Author: Heinz Ramseier