How to Launch a High-End Small Business Building an iconic brand requires an in-depth understanding of the luxury consumer mindset.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Building a new high-end brand is a nuanced art that luxury brands have achieved over the centuries. Think about the French crystal manufacturer St. Louis, over 250 old, the leather goods Maison Hermes, 180 years old and fashion house Gucci, only 100 years old.
All luxury companies have one thing in common: They have key features that give them the allure and mysticism required to command respect, attention — and pricing power.
But how can you build something iconic given the exclusive position occupied by these companies in the market? How can you achieve higher brand value and pricing power if you are a startup?
Forget conventional wisdom, marketing strategy and management practices
Conforming to standard business practices doesn't work if you aim at launching a high-end brand. The reason lies in the purchasing mindset of the luxury consumer. Affiliate marketing, deep discounts and other sales tactics don't convince the affluent.
The value you create and the delivery needs to be tailored to this niche clientele. Analyze how your ideal customers live, work, entertain and vacation to conduct a study similar to how an anthropologist studies a culture.
Your message at a brand level must resonate with their lifestyle. Only this way, the brand connects on a deeper level with the luxury consumer.
Most importantly, you want to offer them a new universe that enables a transformation in their lives. Do not aim at solving problems. Create a dream instead: A new space to discover and experiment.
Embrace your weirdness and secure your brand identity
If an iconic brand inspires emotions, then the inspiration behind your business idea might incite wonder if unique to you as a person.
Think about the impact of the combination "weird + wow". Everyone has quirks and insights unique to themselves. Do not hide these things. They are what makes you interesting and can make a niche in business.
Identify your story, create it and sell it. The story of you as a founder or something that makes it unique. Luxury consumers value authenticity above all.
Get ready to lose sales
Launching a high-end brand and being successful is not everybody's cup of tea. Creating exclusivity means resisting the urge to discount and respond to rising demands. In other words, what matters the most is what you leave out.
Are you willing to build a gate that only a selected elite can access? Are you ready to say no to some clients requesting a break on the price?
My experience in the luxury industry taught me that some are tempted to be ok with discounts to secure the sale. They do not realize that earning the respect of high-net-worth individuals means to say no to them. A luxury brand has the power to say no to customers.
As a startup, emphasize exclusivity from the beginning: Most luxury consumers want high-end brands precisely because they are not easily accessible. They value the thrill and delight that we associate with luxury purchases.
Consistent delivery on the superior brand promise
Among the challenges high-end startups face is delivering on the brand's promises consistently. Luxury customers buy the product and everything the brand represents. Superior quality must permeate all aspects of your business: Think about your product experts on the sales floor, the team of brand curators in the marketing office, your suppliers, your collaborations and your partnerships.
Related: The Rise Of Responsible Luxury