Trendwatchers calls it “Mass Class.” Other sources refer to it as “high-touch.” Whatever you call it, the trend toward mass availability of high-quality, sophisticated and status-rich products and services is upon us, and businesses who wish to survive in the coming years would be wise to heed it’s call. The era of life lived on price-points is fading – people are no longer willing to accept “just barely good enough” items as long as they are the cheapest. They are holding out instead for offerings that reek of quality construction and customized personal attention – gourmet coffees and luxurious imported pastries are taking the place of a quick cup of cheap joe and a snack cake for breakfast, and 200+ thread count, design-embossed linens are the bare minimum, even in the guest room.
Even companies that offer reasonably nice items at affordable prices are going to suffer in this economy – their products simply won’t hold up to comparison with the new items coming onto the market to meet this need. And services that offer even good customer service will no longer cut it – you have to offer the sort of personal attention to detail and customer relations that were previously the purview of the personal attendant or butler. You have to know your customer, their tastes, their requirements and their preferences, and you have to be there first, with better quality offerings available in a wide range of customizable options, or you don’t stand a chance of holding the attention of this new consumer market.
So how can you take advantage of this growing force in the market? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Create or expand at least a portion of your product line or services into the realm of Cadillac quality – make it resonate with fine engineering and attention to detail. Retrain the sales force to focus on the customer like they would focus on their own purchase, and empower them to sweeten and personalize deals to meet the customer’s needs – without the sort of back-and-forth with the management that creates delays and gives prospects time to reconsider their decision.
2. Create a value-add follow-up system so that existing customers are transformed into valued friends of the company. Go beyond offering them special deals and upgrades not available to the general public – these are merely par for the course. Consider sweetening the pot by offering special events, private screening of popular upcoming movies, private concerts with popular bands and similar incentives and rewards available only to existing customers. And make sure that your staff is trained to deal with them as they would a VIP member of a private club – because that’s the atmosphere and mindset you need to cultivate if you are going to retain your clientele.
3. Aim your marketing at the “high-end” and exclusive outlets rather than focusing on discount venues and value-based advertising. Create an atmosphere of exclusivity, quality and prestige – make your customers feel smart, well-educated and socially superior for joining with you in their purchasing ventures.