468 Retail and Channel Management Blog

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Hermes: What to expect when you are putting 20K down for a handbag

As of late, I have had an obsession with watching luxury YouTubers. The more videos I watched, the more fixated I became on one certain brand, Hermes. I’ll be completely honest with you, before diving deep into the world of luxury on youtube, Hermes was not a brand that I was familiar with. But the more immersed I became in the world of Hermes, the more I thought of how it defied basically everything I know about retail. To demonstrate how shopping at Hermes is unlike any other retail experience, I am going to look at the environment and selection elements of the ESE framework.


Environment:

When you think about the store that you are going to spend thousands of dollars in, you probably think of a cushy comfortable environment. Of course, Hermes covers the cushy aspect, but the comfort? Not so much.  From the long lines to get into the store, to the unwavering straight-faced reception from sales associates, your trip to the Hermes store probably won’t satisfy that need for comfortable luxurious shopping. Hermes also isn’t known to be the most convenient place to shop. To procure a Birken or a Kelly, you will probably have to check several Hermes stores, be rejected from a few, and waitlisted for some. Can you imagine going through all that effort to spend 20K on a handbag?  Although it defies the very core of what makes a retail environment successful, the lack of comfort and convenience actually draws people in, rather than repel them.


Selection:
Hermes is known for two things, being the epitome of exclusivity and always being out of stock. In fact, the odds of you actually finding a Birkin or Kelly in a Hermes store is slim. Because each bag is handmade, the number produced is very low. The scarcity of the bag is another reason the demand is so staggeringly high. That’s not to say that getting a bag is impossible, just know that if you manage to get your hands on a Hermes bag, it probably isn’t the one that you have in mind. Although SA’s may try to accommodate your wants, they often will not carry the color or plating that you want, and as such you may walk out with something completely different than what you would expect. But to those who dream of owning a Hermes bag, none of that matters - a Birkin is a Birkin after all. This was another thing that I couldn’t wrap my head around. Typically, customers refuse to buy items which do not match their expectations. However, Hermes is the exception to this rule, as the expectation from customers isn’t the color or plating of the bag, but rather the bag itself.

So how does Hermes get away with breaking the fundamental rules of retail? You would think with such hefty price tags, the environment would be more welcoming and the selections would have more to offer. Hermes has positioned itself in such a way that people will forgive nearly every aspect of their shopping experience, while happily paying an arm and a leg just to have a Hermes Handbag. What a powerful brand indeed.

References:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3556882/The-bag-not-allowed-buy-covetable-snooty-stores-sell-list-happened-sent-ordinary-women-ask-Hermes-handbag.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbyam0ZV4H0, How To Buy A Birkin In Paris | New Hermes System Tips

















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