Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

from Shop Talk:

Noblesse oblige, but no service, for French luxury

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)

Retail in recession: bottoms, bananas and breeding

So, what did we learn from executives in the hard-hit luxury and main street retail sectors this week at the Reuters summits?

The idea of a “new normal” age of lower consumerism was in vogue, with many executives expecting consumers to continue to be thrifty for some time. Conspicuous consumption may be dead, they say.

Where are you spending?

This week we’re getting inside views from some of the biggest names in retail…from high-end fashion houses like Hermes to department store chain J.C. Penney. Optimism among those in the industry about a turnaround toward the end of 2009 springs eternal…but what are you seeing? Where are you spending? Or, are you trading down? Ditching Saks and heading to Target? Barclays retail analyst Bob Drbul says the key for consumers in the current economic environment, no matter where they shop, is “value.” Click here to hear his thoughts:

Are you changing your buying behavior? from Reuters TV on Vimeo.

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