For a long time Tiffany has been a symbol of luxury worldwide. Not by chance, Truman Capote titled his novel - which inspired the even more famous movie - Breakfast at Tiffany's.
It seems, however, that even in this scintillating world everything does not shine the way it should. What happened? And what is the connection with hotels?
- The background - In the last thirty years Tiffany has become more accessible, and has significantly targeted young customers, with more economic collections, such as keys and heart-shaped pendants. In 2016, earnings were 3 per cent lower than in the previous year, and shop sales went down 5 per cent.
- The issues - Many people find it a little passé, and prefer more innovative jewellery brands. A mid-life crisis (or an identity crisis, you choose) prevents it from preserving the charm associated to its name.
Moreover, the shop dressing, particularly in the USA, is no longer providing customers with an experience equal to the brand: selling high jewellery and silverware, combined with a claim to exclusiveness, is not what people like.
As I read the article on Tiffany in Il Post where I took my cue from, the parallelism with hotels came to my mind immediately. Luxury is a sector where innovation is reluctant, that is, it breaks into business rather than being chosen.
How often do we take refuge behind a brand, which perhaps is mainly appealing to ourselves, or behind the history of our hotel, which is unlikely to be known to everybody? Customers do want innovation, but the type of innovation they like; on the contrary, hotel companies often fall in love with ideas that do not provide any improved experience to their guests.
Also, sometimes, in the name of budget, we want to fish among all customer groups, at the risk of misrepresenting our identities. This point is not just my own ethical vision of business, but also a practical consideration, because by creating confusion we are led in the direction of "diamonds and charms being sold together".
Tiffany, however, can also teach us a positive lesson, because if you visit the new shop in Piazza del Duomo in Milan, you can admire a beautiful hotel lobby, with a perfect balance of colours, scents and a warm welcome. Might this be the change process they are starting? In the end, I must say that I hope things will go well for them, because every time I hear their name, I think of Audrey Hepburn sitting on her window sill and singing Moon River.
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