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COVID-19 forces luxury brands to overhaul sales strategies: Analyst


The pandemic has prompted global makers of luxury goods, as well as high-end US retailers, to overhaul their sales strategies in a bid to ride out the downturn, says Christophe Cais, CEO, Customer Experience Group. Luxury brands are turning to sales via social media in China, and US luxury retailers are moving from highly personal service in stores to online and even curbside sales to capture stay-at-home-consumers.

With European and US economies hurting, China is the brands' main hope this year to spark sales. China's luxury shoppers are expected to make 50 percent of all global luxury purchases this year. But they will mostly shop from home, according to consulting firm Gartner. In the US, people generally are staying away from public places, and luxury retail stores are trying to figure out how to sell to customers who aren't in their buildings.

Tiffany & Co, Bloomingdale's and Neiman Marcus Group have responded by selling products via FaceTime and curbside pickup. But curbside drop-off and pickup don't mean just putting a shopping bag in a car trunk, Charles Anderson, Bloomingdale's director of stores, told Bloomberg News.

Retailers also are using video chat so sales associates can connect with longtime customers. In the Hamptons, luxury shoe retailer Jimmy Choo is visiting customers' homes with vans of exclusive merchandise.

All of this is a sea change for high-end retailers: moving from engaging shoppers in stores with stylized personal service to impersonal transactions that meet social distancing needs while trying to retain an air of exclusivity.