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Interview with Luxury and Retail Strategist Francis Srun

In an interview with LUXUO, Francis Srun reveals some of the key trends in luxury selling

Feb 21, 2019 | By LUXUO

Founder of RETAIL PERFORMANCE, an advising company dedicated to a Better Retail World based in Hong Kong, Francis SRUN is an Author, Conference speaker and Luxury and Retail Strategist.

Srun’s international career path has seen him work in France, Switzerland, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong with over 20 years of experience spanning both high-end Luxury Sales and Marketing, with houses like Maison Piaget, Ralph Lauren, and Boucheron.

Francis Srun is a world-class recognized expert in Luxury Retail. In 2013 he published “Vendre Le Luxe”, the first book in France about luxury selling techniques and In 2016, “LUXURY SELLING”, with international academic and trade publisher Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Interview with Luxury and Retail Strategist Francis Srun

You have been a specialist in the luxury scene in Asia for the past 20 years, what trends do you foresee this coming year in China?

I see the speeding up of a trend already observed: what I call the Viral Luxury in China. Luxury is always about culture. In France, it’s about self-affirmation. In China, the desire is more about being “right”. Chinese tend to trust bloggers, stars and increasingly the WECHAT “nano-influencers”.

How are Chinese consumers evolving? How important is “shopping experience” for luxury goods today?

Chinese Luxury consumers are so different that it is becoming inappropriate to talk about Chinese Luxury consumers in general. The large spectrum is in particular created by the differences between generations. There is a switch in term of preference from “The Powerful Brand” to “The On Fire Brands”. New consumers go to stores looking for the products on fire and want them immediately before others. The excitement is to be able to satisfy what is really hot.

Are the luxury brands’ current answers to the fast progression of e-commerce adequate?

Luxury Brands still consider E-commerce as a “un-wanted necessity”. Many of the brands CEO are not buying Luxury online. They are in Europe and enjoy a different lifestyle. E-commerce is not connected to Boutiques but still seen just as a separate channel. Many major e-commerce innovations are happening in China, notably with T-Mall domination, but not only. Luxury Brands again are too slow and forget one simple rationale: Customers buy where they sound their time – and today it’s on the mobile phone.

How do Malls need to evolve to face the millennials’ fast evolving consumption habits?

Malls once upon a time were the only place for the weekend. They are air-conditioned, luxurious and represent a new successful lifestyle. Today why millennials would go to the Malls? The “New New” is online or in Korea, Japan and of course Europe. The Malls in China feature the same brands, with the same products and I have to say, unfortunately, the same low level of service. When the service is good, it is no more exceptional as 20 years ago. Only K11 offers nicely a new perspective with a vision around introducing Art in the shopping Malls in Hong Kong and China. Malls have to showcase new brands, new services.

How do you view the rise of Chinese / Asian luxury brands? What is their forte and what are they missing?

Japan and recently Korea managed to create truly international Luxury brands, but not yet China. At one of my conferences, a Chinese lady owner of a jewellery brand asked me how her brand can become a Cartier or Boucheron. Another founder of a fashion brand wonders if his brand can meet the success of Ralph Lauren. Only one answer: don’t think about legacy but deserve it. Mr Cartier, Boucheron, or Lauren were just at that time trying to do the best in their trade. They had something to say and the courage, energy to persevere. What is missing: The patience from what I observe.

Do you see M&As happening in the luxury field this year? Armani as a potential target of a larger Group? Burberry? Others?

M&A in Luxury may keep on happening with major Luxury groups buying the brands of tomorrow. I see a better horizon in betting on rising brands than paying market shares in this changing Luxury environment. The Luxury is always reinventing. More than brands, new Luxury categories are emerging: sneakers, sport-wear, bikes and lifestyles services.

Which public figures/entrepreneurs in the luxury field you will be following closely?

I am very much impressed by the challenges undertaken by Chinese Group Fosun. Would a Chinese group be able to turnaround, succeed in Paris with Maison Lanvin? No Asian groups managed to beautifully turnaround Luxury Brands. Another interesting Brand to follow would be Burberry. Can a heritage brand become a fashion-forward icon?

How can your book provide useful advice to luxury brand managers?

In my two books dedicated to Luxury Selling techniques and customers psychology, I introduced 2 concepts that could help all Luxury Brand managers: luxury buying motivational factors and the persuasive approach. Start to understand how your customers decide: when there is a decision, there is a process and you can influence it. I suggest Luxury Brand managers consider “Persuasive marketing”: create around your customer positive conditions for a decision for your brand. The best brand is not the one that everyone sees but the one everyone talks about!

Francis SRUN lives between Hong Kong, London and Paris. He can be reached at [email protected]


 
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