Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Noblesse oblige, but no service, for French luxury

June 1, 2010

LUXURY-SUMMIT/From our apparel reporter Nivedita Bhattacharjee:

Luxury brands in the United States might still have a lot to learn from the entrenched design houses in Europe, but their commitment to pleasing the customer serves them well as the market returns from recession.
    
Milton Pedraza, Chief Executive of the Luxury Institute, told us during the Reuters Global Luxury Summit today that the commitment to customer service could even become a real point of differentiation for American brands.
 
“The American brands and even the Burberrys of the world tend to be better at customer-centricity, at service, and could make that a competitive advantage, because the Europeans are not as service-oriented, more product-oriented,” he said.
    
“The Europeans are not as service-oriented, (they are) more product-oriented, and they will even tell you that.”
    
If one is looking for an explanation behind the attitudes, Pedraza invoked a time well before Hermes opened its doors in 1837.   
 
“A French executive told me that the word ‘service’ … is equated with servility and (goes) back to the French revolution and is why the French don’t like to serve anybody.” 
(Photo: Reuters)

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