With dozens of red roses, picked over Hallmark sections, and heart-shaped boxes encompassing our thoughts this past month, you probably assumed that the “L-word” was referring to LOVE, but on February 23 it referred to LUXURY. Surrounded by the ultra chic décor of the DC Design Center, the diverse panel of experts, moderated by seasoned fashion model Bianca Chardei, discussed the relevance of luxury in our society and how to maintain brand integrity and customer retention.

With dozens of red roses, picked over Hallmark sections, and heart-shaped boxes encompassing our thoughts this past month, you probably assumed that the “L-word” was referring to LOVE, but on February 23 it referred to LUXURY. Surrounded by the ultra chic décor of the DC Design Center, the diverse panel of experts, moderated by seasoned fashion model Bianca Chardei, discussed the relevance of luxury in our society and how to maintain brand integrity and customer retention. As marketers, we have all felt the tightening of budgets and the struggle to increase ROI, but how does one successfully market high-priced goods and services especially during difficult economic times?

All with a different background and reason for entering the luxury industry, Paola Domenge, founder and owner of The Branding Shoppe, Mary Douglas Drysdale, founder and CEO of Drysdale Inc., Shaheed Mohammed, founder and CEO of Elite Domestic Group, and Jennifer Sergent, Director of Marketing at the DC Design Center, began the night discussing the types of clientele they cater to and how they secure new clients. With each of the panelists being involved with different aspects of the luxury industry, the group had varying responses; however, all panelists noted a recent evolution of marketing techniques and the importance of quality over quantity. Drysdale noted that securing new clients today, as opposed to previous years, has changed quite significantly due to the increasing use of digital marketing and the degree and speed at which consumers demand value and information.

Although luxury spending is beginning to rebound, even the experts have difficulties marketing their luxury items and services. Sergent infuses value into pricey products by telling a customer the story and background of the item. By creating an emotional tie to the product, consumers become more loyal to a particular brand and may not get as easily distracted by the large array of options now afforded to consumers via the Internet. Domenge and Mohammed also shared the opinion that creating and presenting premium value on a consistent basis was key to retaining their customers and both relied on word of mouth to build their base clientele.

The night not only provided a chance for attendees to take in the stunning interior of the DC Design Center while noshing on canapés and sipping on wine, but also provided time for networking and the opportunity to learn from the top tier, luxury experts.