A new organization for women in horticulture that aims to change the way consumers think about flowers, launched at Cultivate’15 by sponsoring Ketty Maisonrouge, a marketing expert, who presented “How To Create A Luxury Brand.” Luxflora recently launched its website, as well as a page on LinkedIn, to facilitate networking among women in horticulture. The organization is working on next steps, including setting up a board of directors and officers. Updates and information on future events will be available at the Luxflora website as they are scheduled. Read about Luxflora’s mission and what it hopes to accomplish in “Luxflora Wants To Create A Lifestyle Movement.”
In the session during Cultivate, Ketty Maisonrouge, owner of KM & Company, adjunct professor of luxury strategy at the Columbia University Business School and the author of “The Luxury Alchemist,” presented her ideas and expertise on luxury strategy marketing, and how it applies to horticulture. She showed audience members how she has been successful in several luxury endeavors.
Creating A Luxury Brand
When you think of some of the more common luxury brands in the world, some that may come to mind – Starbucks, Apple – represent items that people don’t absolutely need, but think they need. For example, Starbucks is less of a product than it is an experience. It’s a store where you can go to drink high-priced coffee, yes, but it’s also a luxury to sit and drink your coffee, check your eMail, read a book or talk with a friend. Similarly, Apple is a luxury brand in that it represents new technology and design that is constantly being improved upon. We don’t need the newest model of iPhone, but we think we do.
Maisonrouge provided several examples of a company in which she invests, L’Olivier, a floral company in Manhattan, and described how she helped build it into a luxury brand.
Study Trends And Microtrends
When you begin the process of luxury branding, you need to know all of the different microtrends happening within your industry and among consumers. This knowledge will help you position your products. One huge industry issue is that a lot of flowers are available at big box stores and grocery chains at discount prices.
Tell The Story
A successful exhibit by luxury clothier Hermes, titled, “A Scarf Is Born,” showed the entire process of making an Hermes scarf, from beginning to end. Many consumers who viewed the exhibit came away saying, “Now that I have seen the process and know what is involved, I will never again say the scarfs are expensive.”
It’s important to educate consumers about your product and the process you go through in growing and marketing it from beginning to end.
Study The Competitive Landscape
In a high-end, competitive landscape, you must study your competitors and try to understand who is doing good things and why they are successful. When you come across a good idea, figure out how you can tailor it to your company and product, and make it your own. What would you do to change it? What about the idea would not work for you?
Make It Part Of A Lifestyle
In Europe, when people entertain and invite others to dinner parties, the number one gift presented to the host is flowers. In the U.S. the number one gift is wine or some kind of alcohol, followed by chocolate and finally, flowers are somewhere down the list at number three or beyond. Flowers are not an immediate part of the American lifestyle, which is a challenge. Create your brand with a purpose to change that.
Ask yourself, as a customer, why do I buy? Amazon, for example, offers convenience and a quick buy. You can do the same, but with luxury positioning. Don’t underestimate the power of your website, and the power of convenience.
Identify Brand Personality, Promises
Identify how your brand is different. What is your brand personality? Create a brand book. All high end brands have these – Hermes, Yves Saint Laurent, etc. What are your brand promises? Identify what you are promising your customers through your brand, i.e. “Bouquets will last nine days versus one day from the supermarket.”
If anything goes wrong, take responsibility, even if it’s not your fault. Send replacements immediately, along with chocolates and extra gifts.
Grow Your Line
Create something that is not perishable with the same brand imprint. For example, candles go well with flowers, so L’Olivier created its own line of candles.
Bring Your Brand To The People
L’Olivier created a Valentine’s Day Pop-up Shop. It knew it wouldn’t make money, but it offered a test market that gauged interest in that area. This brings your brand to others who are not used to it or may not be aware of it. Extend yourself beyond your comfort zone into a text market, and try to keep the pop-up shop open for at least a few weeks, but ideally for three months.
This should be accompanied by events like online scavenger hunts via social media, in which you ask the public to do one thing to get something – not three things, just one. A pop-up shop for L’Olivier at L’Alique, a crystal company, did this, and was very successful. A pop-up shop offers animation and new opportunity. Plan an event strategy before the shop launches, lay the groundwork and present new events every week or every few weeks. The longer you are there, the better.
This can work for anniversaries, as well. It shows customers how long you’ve been around, that you know what you’re doing and you’re not going away. It also extends your brand imprint into others’ minds who might not be aware of your business, or may not yet be a customer.
Invest In Social Media
Although it may seem so, social media is not free. You still have to pay someone to do it, and you have to know the medium, know how to use it and know your audience.
Develop Your Own Strategic Plan
What are your objectives? Where do you see your business in five years? What are the potential challenges for your brand? You need to continue to think of new ways to do things, and grow and freshen your business.
To read more about Luxury Branding, check out Maisonrouge’s book, “The Luxury Alchemist.”