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How to Sell Luxury Goods in a Bad Economy

How to keep consumers buying, even in a recession

Courtesy company

Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, founder of Gilt Groupe


Q: We manufacture high-end games. What's the best way to promote our luxury items in this economic climate?

Joe Jaques
Commercial director
Jaques of London
Salt Lake City

A: There's always a market for top quality, even at top dollar. "This climate has simply forced luxury brands to be much more strategic in their approach to marketing," says Gregory Furman, founder and chairman of the Luxury Marketing Council, an association for luxury goods and services companies. One of the ways to do that is through e-mail marketing. Furman suggests upselling your existing customers based on their purchasing histories. "Offer that customer an exclusive limited-time deal for a category of products from which they've never made a purchase," he says.

To reach more affluent buyers, you might team up with other luxury brands to pool customer databases and marketing resources. Furman suggests partnering with, say, a high-end shirtmaker and an upscale winery to host an event. You invite your customers, they invite theirs, and everyone gets the chance to woo some more potential shoppers.

In tough times, it's more important than ever to be in the right place. "Great distribution is critical," says Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, founder of Gilt Groupe, a website that sells designer clothing at discount prices. That may not mean glamming it up in high-end department stores. "Department stores often want exclusive agreements that can be limiting for a small company," Wilkis Wilson says. Your games will probably get more attention in small specialty stores that sell luxury gifts or keepsake toys. Online retailers such as, which specializes in unusual and artisan gift offerings, might also be a good match, says Wilkis Wilson.

And don't forget to take advantage of social networks. "Creating accounts through social media is the easiest and most cost-effective way to market your brand," says Wilkis Wilson. She recommends using Facebook and Twitter to build a fan base. The audience for those sites will probably have no clue about games such as skittles or croquet. For them, your products won't just be premium -- they will also be cutting edge.

Last updated: Nov 1, 2009

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