Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Selling luxury these days

Most of us, it seems, are preoccupied with paying rent, mortgages and other basics. Why then - or more accurate, how - can a company such as Bugatti possibly sell any of its $1.5 million Veyrons?

I'm not a car guy but even I can appreciate a machine that can go a tad over 250mph. (The fastest I've ever gone was 100mph in a Datsun Stanza while pointing downhill on I-87 with the wind at my back. The car was shaking more than Chuck Yeager's "Glamorous Glennis" on October 14, 1947...) Practical it ain't. But that's not the point. The point is they're selling!

Forbes Life - it's amazing the publication even comes out at all - has a fascinating feature on how Bugatti does it. It is a case study in one-to-one marketing and worth reading. Here are the salient points:
  • You don't buy a Veyron; you apply for one;
  • Most of the marketing budget goes toward shipping a demo car to a prospect, along with a professional driver who will show what the machine is capable of doing;
  • The number of people in the world who might buy one is tiny and the company actively seeks them out to talk to them, one-on-one;
  • The car is constantly being watched, via satellite, where every parameter of the car is monitored.

Granted, most of us don't have products or services that are appropriate for such a tiny portion of the planet's population. Nonetheless, the artcile got me going because it points out some important marketing tips:

  • When you can, aim for exclusivity.
  • Demonstrate what it is you have to sell.
  • Determine your audience and speak to them directly.
  • Overservice and exceed expectations.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go hit the open road.

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