What do you offer someone who has it all? This is a question that often troubles luxury retailers when recruiting and retaining VIP clients. In the fiercely competitive market of China, luxury companies are trying everything from private auctions to personalized fashion advice to woo and lock in the loyalty of such big spenders.
Last month, Chow Tai Fook Jewelry Group invited 200 of its top customers to Hong Kong’s Ritz Carlton for an exclusive event that featured a jewelry auction and dinner. And these were not just any top customers – each of them has purchased a piece of jewelry valued at 1 million RMB ($163,000) or more. Chow Tai Fook had flown in over 100 staff to take care of these VIPs.
The jeweler’s goal was to sell 15 pieces of jewelry that had already been on a six-city road show. The event consisted of a wine tasting, an investment talk, and a personal cosmetics session.
An auctioneer from Beijing Poly International Auction coaxed higher bids from the crowd as models walked from table to table to present the guests with a closer look of the exquisite items during dinner. In the end, Chow Tai Fook brought in $4 million, almost a quarter higher than it did in 2012, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“VIPs love auctions,” said Chow Tai Fook’s executive director Adrian Cheng. “Before, customers liked to go to parties around the world. Now they want exclusive preview dinners. Before, they wanted museum tours. Now they’d like to meet an artist. The experience they want is evolving.”
The real challenge for luxury companies is to meet these evolving wants of the Chinese customers. Here are four things China’s VIPs want:
Practicality – The Chinese are quite practical people. Justified purchases also build longer lasting customer relationships than impulse ones. Even billionaires who can afford everything sometimes ask, “Can I wear this to work then to a cocktail party?”
Exclusivity – A top selling point for any luxury product. Some brands, such as Givenchy, offer exclusive products and selected discounts to its best customers only.
Unique Experience – In most markets, people still go to the stores. However, in Beijing, where a quarter of Chow Tai Fook’s VIPs reside, top customers want exclusive views and showings, including jewelry shows at their homes, according to Mr. Cheng.
Product – “It is back to the basics. Knowing what they really want and deliver it to them,” says Mr. Cheng. “It is easier said than done.”
photo credit: chow tai fook