Luxury Retailers Like Saks Lean Into Exclusivity

Luxury retailers are promoting exclusivity as a way to focus on their core customers and keep them engaged. Following in the footsteps of iconic brands like Hermès, retailers such as Saks and Gucci have launched efforts that cater to their top clients.

Saks Goes the Limit

Saks has expanded its exclusive top-client program, Saks Limitless, which offers its members access to luxury fashion through a range of unique services and benefits, according to a Thursday (April 20) press release.

The retailer notes that since launching a digital segment tailored to eCommerce customers in 2021, the Saks Limitless program has grown significantly. The program currently caters to thousands of clients across the Saks Fifth Avenue ecosystem and aims to enhance its personal styling capabilities and brand loyalty efforts both digitally and in-person.

“We are dedicated to serving the entire range of luxury customers, with a particular focus on those who are the most loyal to Saks, as the largest luxury e-commerce platform in the United States,” Saks Chief Marketing Officer Emily Essner said in the release. “Luxury consumers play a vital role in our long-term growth strategy, and we are excited to foster deeper connections with these customers, both online and in-person, through the expansion of our Saks Limitless program.”

Through the program, Saks Limitless offers exclusive access to events and experiences around the world such as fashion weeks in New York, Paris and Milan; shopping excursions to popular destinations like Rome, Venice and Sicily; international film festivals; and prestigious sporting events.

The program’s primary focus is on providing access to experiences that cannot be bought and collaborating with designers to offer clients exclusive merchandise.

Saks Limitless recently arranged a weekend in Aspen for top clients, featuring a horse-drawn sleigh ride to the renowned Pine Creek Cookhouse, a mountaintop après ski party, guided skiing and snowboarding on Aspen Mountain and on-demand spa treatments. Guests enjoyed private shopping sessions with local Aspen jewelry brand Atlas Fine, along with luxurious 5-star accommodations at The St. Regis Aspen Resort. Clients also got access to Aspen’s exclusive members-only Caribou Club for the weekend.

Gucci Salon by Appointment Only

Earlier this week, PYMNTS reported that Gucci has opened a luxury storefront in Los Angeles exclusively for its VIP clients and A-list celebrities. The new Gucci Salon store, located in the space formerly occupied by Marc Jacobs on Melrose Place, will be open only to customers with prior appointments.

The Gucci Salon represents a slight shift in focus for the brand, which had previously attempted to align itself with Gen Z. Gucci now aims to embrace consumers who can spend money without hesitation. VIP clients get a personalized shopping experience by booking an appointment and having the store filled with products that match their individual tastes.

See also: Gucci’s New Melrose Place Store Doubles Down on Exclusivity

Economy and Demographics

While luxury items are not exempt from inflation, wealthy consumers are less affected by price increases, so by targeting that demographic Gucci and Saks can maintain sales. With the Gucci Salon and Saks Limitless, both brands have an opportunity to cater to big-spending clients and A-list celebrities who can afford high-end products, while offering exclusive and customized experiences that appeal to them.

This strategy applies to the 20% of “persuadable” customers who said price increases have not impacted their shopping habits, according to PYMNTS’ March report, “Consumer Inflation Sentiment: The False Appeal of Deal-Chasing Consumers.”

Brands and retailers are also going after a cohort that can spend more in the immediate future: Gen X. These consumers, born between 1965 and 1980, spend considerably more than any other generation — approximately 44% more than baby boomers and 18% more than Gen Z — even though they make up only 19.8% of the US population.

Learn more: Move Over Millennials: The Beauty Industry Wants Buyers With More Spending Power

The Core Customers

Retailers of all sorts are looking to zero in on a customer and an experience that aligns with their brand positioning.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, for example, said in its recent earnings report that although consumers may be cutting back on purchases of non-essential items, they are still willing to invest in health and wellness products.

“We’ve seen a shift in consumer behavior where they are prioritizing athletic endeavor sports, health and active lifestyle, and they’re prioritizing Dick’s in order to meet those needs,” Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Lauren Hobart said on a call with analysts.

Read also: Retail CEOs Want Their Loyal Consumers Back, Reflecting on Q4 Earnings

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) shoe company, Allbirds has refocused its attention on its core demographic: affluent men and women aged 30 to 40 with an interest in active lifestyles and urban exploration.

In its recent earnings report, Allbirds acknowledged that its business performance in the past year was negatively impacted by deviating from its core focus.

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