My fellow PurseBlogger Kaitlin, recently questioned if there is such thing as “accessible luxury.”

Her thoughts about the balance between exclusivity and accessibility came at a when time fashion enthusiasts around the globe have begun to wonder if brands’ aim to maintain exclusivity will result in restrictive sales tactics or purchasing quotas becoming more prevalent.

Pay to Play

Back in April, luxury consumers in China protested after they reported feeling pressured by various fashion and jewelry SAs to first drop big bucks on other accessories before being allowed to purchase more high-value pieces.

According to them, some SAs even asked that they show receipts of previous purchases or outright told them there are levels to the game of getting what they want. This type of practice was one they, like us, had come to expect from brands like Hermès, but not from more “accessible” brands (like Celine) whose only requirement was just that we have the money to buy it.

This gamification of luxury shopping isn’t unique to the fashion industry (brands like Ferrari also require a lengthy purchase history to access exclusive models); however, many consumers felt that this model puts too much power in the hands of the sales associates and can be used as leverage to bait them into buying items from other categories (homeware, etc.) or to force them into becoming a repeat customer in order to get what they want. Additionally, they also claimed that brands with established quote systems unfairly required them to spend more than what is required of Western customers.

For the protestors, this tactic of using one’s “runoff desire” against them means all those blankets and cardholders are simply hors d’oeuvres to the hungry customers waiting without notice about if and when their main meal will ever be served.

A Sign of The Times

Last year, purse lovers in other parts of the world showed concern when Chanel decided to limit the number of bags one could purchase in a year. The decision came alongside the brand’s continuous price hikes and made many collectors speculate about Chanel’s intent going forward.

Certain Chanel bags had already inched into the $10k territory, and the move was seen by some as a warning sign of what was to potentially come.

Have Your Cake

It seems that brands looking to grow in the current market are in a pretty precarious position: they must try to strike a balance between meeting customers’ demands while keeping up the appearance of scarcity.

The problem lies in the fact that many luxury lovers want to have their cake and eat it too, which leaves it up to brands to determine how much manufactured scarcity is enough to satisfy their core customer base without alienating too many aspiring customers.

As we heard many express their dissatisfaction with Chanel’s attempt to pull ahead of the pack, it became apparent that luxury goods that are too accessible are at risk of losing their luster but keeping them too far out of reach can also have diminishing returns.

So what is a brand to do?

Undoubtedly, all the ultra-exclusive prestige brands won’t be changing their sales practices any time soon. Still, all of this does make me question: will we soon see more heritage brands using restrictive sales methods to protect their image and position in the marketplace? One can only wonder…

(P.S. Brands like Celine that were accused of using restrictive sales tactics have since denied protestors’ claims.)

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Jaime
Jaime
1 month ago

This just turns me off of the bag game. I have money that I want to spend but now the stores want to dictate if I am worthy to spend in there or not. Just reminds me I don’t need a Hermes, Chanel, and possibly a Celine.

Chris
Chris
21 days ago
Reply to  Jaime

Hermes sales reps don’t get paid commission on Kelly and Birkin Bags. Thats why they do not push those bags and it seems like you have to buy alot first. They get nothing out of it so why pitch it to a customer.

ZSG
ZSG
1 month ago
Reply to  Jaime

Agreed!

kkkkkk
kkkkkk
1 month ago

in china there’s also a saying ‘customers are gods'(顾客就是上帝)… I don’t buy in these brands tricks. gods and goddesses don’t kiss SAs’ asses.

Nan
Nan
1 month ago
Reply to  kkkkkk

When I was in China I didn’t understand that philosophy, initially. When I went into a shop and the SA followed me around I thought they suspected me of shoplifting. Very quickly I came to understand the value they placed on customers. If I showed any interest in anything they were quick to pick it up and show it to me. I ended up buying too much, but it was one of the most enjoyable shipping experiences I’ve ever had.

Gracie
Gracie
1 month ago

Hermès has been extraordinarily successful at crafting a sense of exclusivity and rarity. Why wouldn’t other brands attempt to use some of the same strategies? It only seems logical.

CatG
CatG
1 month ago

Maybe these luxury brands should stop giving bags away to influencers that don’t appreciate them and pile them high on shelves, poorly kept. Then there would be more bags for the rest of us. I can’t even get my hands on a Chanel WOC in either of the stores in the area because resellers have bought them all up.

Jerri R
Jerri R
1 month ago

Scarcity and exclusivity? A joke. Many people on TPF alone have Birkins and Kellys.

Chris
Chris
21 days ago
Reply to  Jerri R

Hermes sales reps don’t get paid commission on Kelly and Birkin Bags. Thats why they do not push those bags and it seems like you have to buy alot first. They get nothing out of it so why pitch it to a customer.

Chris
Chris
21 days ago

Hermes sales reps don’t get paid commission on Kelly and Birkin Bags. Thats why they do not push those bags and it seems like you have to buy alot first. They get nothing out of it so why pitch it to a customer.

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