Monday, August 14, 2006

Marketing to the Luxury Customer

We can spend a lot of money - the coveted luxury customer. I actually think there are plenty of us around out there who consume or use something that is considered to be of ‘luxury’. With me, it’s my car. Nothing too fancy, but it would be considered a luxury vehicle none-the-less. So much that the dealer has invested time and money communicating to me that my car is associated with status. I receive a quarterly magazine that talks about vacations to exotic places, upscale watches, gourmet food (I never read it), I get fancy wine and cheese invites to preview the next newest model (haven’t been to one), email communications, you get the picture.

So what’s the beef? I have never had to schedule an appointment at the dealer for anything other than an oil change – until last week, and after owning my car for 3 years. My radio signal is weak. The great sounding stereo is an important feature of my car, to me. So at my scheduled appointment, instead of welcoming me as the luxury customer that I am, I hear “Since it appears to be working now, there is nothing we can do. We have guidelines and can’t run a diagnostic test.” When I balked, “Can’t you see if there is a loose wire or something”… I was given the very poor analogy “ You wouldn’t change a light bulb if it is working, only if it were flickering and could not be tightened ….and you will have to come-in when the problem is noticeable.” (Actually, if I had flickering issues, I would quickly change a bulb). The fact that my complaint was not taken at face value, ie, don’t waste my time lady, was upsetting.

You see, what’s happened here is I love my car. I have a problem with it and want it solved. I want to continue to love my car. I need re-inforcement to do so. All the messaging in the world telling me how valued I am goes out the window when actions do not support the messaging. Businesses need to align their values to all operating units – not just the communications department.

It just so happens, CMA will be presenting a Live Case Study (in-situ) on marketing to the luxury customer in the months ahead. Perhaps I should send my dealer an invitation!

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