How to Launch a Luxury Startup


So you want to launch a luxury brand? Learn exactly what it takes to to launch a luxury startup – from positioning your brand to choosing the right marketing strategies.


Hi. I’m Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail, and today I’m going to talk to all of you luxury brand future startup owners today. I know, that was a mouthful. Really, what I want to start to talk to you about is how you are positioning to grow this luxury brand of yours. And what’s so important here to consider, guys, is a luxury business is so different than it used to be. Back in the day, in the heydays, the Christian Diors, the Valentinos, the Chanels, you know, these were big luxury houses because it was a very small niche market. There weren’t so many players in the game. There wasn’t Shopify, there weren’t so many access points for people to start businesses. And, my, how the game has changed now. In fact, it is easier than ever for anyone to start anything. But a luxury business is still a little bit different. In fact, it’s a little bit more difficult to compete in the luxury market today, which is why I want you to start to think about a few key points here before you decide to take that plunge, or even to help you structure the development of your new brand.

The first thing to consider. Having a luxury brand these days is very different because consumers are different. What consumers want, what they’re looking for, is so different now than it used to be. These days people take a lot of value in things like, “Is it made sustainably? Where is the fabric from? What communities am I supporting with those products?” Also, things like, “Is this artisanal?” There are so many factors today that come into starting a luxury brand that you actually have a big opportunity here to take advantage of that. So, how to do that?

Well, number one, let’s take a look at your competitive matrix. Now, your competitive matrix is really all the brands that you’re going to sit next to. Now, I surely hope that on that list isn’t, “I’m going to sit next to Chanel and Balenciaga and Fendi,” because as we all know, as a startup, you’re not a heritage brand. It’s just impossible. You can’t be a heritage brand until you’ve been around 20, 50, 150 years. So, if your goals are to be a heritage brand, then build the business now but know you’re not going to be heritage for another 50 years.

The other thing we think about is the current matrix of the young luxury brands that are totally doing it really well, and there are a lot out there. One of my favorites is Maiyet. They’re an amazing design house that actually infuses a lot of sustainability, a lot of ethical practices into very well-designed, high price point, ready-to-wear and accessory pieces. And because of their branding, because of their ethics and their values, they’ve actually attracted a very core consumer base that believes what they believe. So, as you are developing your competitive matrix, think about the other brands out there. Think about who is doing what in your space, that you actually can take some pointers on their distribution. The luxury boutiques that are selling your competitors brands are probably ones that are going to be more than likely to sell your brand. So, it’s really a matter of doing your due diligence and figuring out where exactly you’re going to be fitting.

The next thing. Know that with a luxury startup your investments are going to be high, especially on the sides of advertising, on the sides of all the branded assets that you’re creating, on the side of your website, your copywriting, your images. Everything needs to tell this beautiful, romantic story as to why someone’s going to spend $1,200, $2,000, $5,000 on something. So, if you’re not investing into the right assets to sell your product, you’re not going get the returns that you’re looking for or be able to even make that impression. Now, one misconception about the luxury business. It’s really not going to be as simple as in other brands or advanced contemporary, even aspirational markets, where you are just pumping a lot of money into, let’s say, Facebook advertising or Instagram advertising. This is more nuanced. This is more niche. This is something where you need to romanticize your customer. You need to have feeling and passion. And that’s going to come through having a very small list of early adopters, building that niche marketplace and really being able to cultivate that consumer on a very small level. Your stylist program is going to be intense. Your celebrity styling and celebrity gifting program, working with influencers is going to be really important. Because, again, we’re creating that perceived value of something that people want to attain, they want to strive for, and your brand will represent that.

Now, the other side of having a luxury startup means you need to be willing to be in this game for a while. You’re not going to see high ROIs within the first season, or two seasons or maybe three seasons. We’re looking here at a three-year-plus game in order to get you the visibility, especially if you’re not already a famous designer who’s coming to the table or even doing a brand relaunch. This is your first time, expect to spend some time with this.

Now lastly, as we’re wrapping up, something that’s important to keep in mind here is, consumers these days, they need about six touchpoints in order to buy something. They need to feel as if you are where they are. Some of that might be through digital marketing, through things like Instagram, or it might be things like attending parties and events and going to more exclusive types of environments where you can actually be around your potential customer. Because so much of this is going to be based on relationship, product, and perception.

All right guys, you luxury startup owners, please don’t forget to email me, I would love to help you launch, and scale and grow your business. I’m certainly not a first timer at this rodeo in the luxury market and have a wealth of information to share with you from places like Gucci, Barneys, you name it. So, shoot me an email, and in the meanwhile, while you’re still coming up with your fantastic idea, leave a comment below. I’d love to know how this impacted your business. And head on over to Instagram, and Facebook and Twitter where you can find me. Thanks so much for watching. Have a great day.