A few days ago, at Christmas time, I went to the Printemps Haussmann: a welcome counter catches my eye. A desk bereft of any human presence during a very busy period. Odd. Then I see a display containing black leaflets, very elegant. I take one.
"Just give us a call, PRINTEMPS CONCIERGE, available 24/24, 365 days a year, anywhere in the world, organizes the evening of your dreams on just one hour, solves your daily problems, fulfils your last minute desires...
PRINTEMPS CONCIERGE is at your disposal on the first floor of Printemps de la Mode.
TARIFF: Subscription 1 500 € / year "
This is a remarkable initiative to the credit of Le Printemps. It is the result of the upscale / luxury repositioning strategy implemented since the purchase of the department store by Maurizio Borletti. In this perspective, the Printemps strives to change from a distribution logic to that of a specific brand and to offer a new original identity based on a distinctive "shopping experience".
I have often stressed here on the new consumer expectations when it comes to personalizing the relationship with the brand and in matters of exclusive services – thus giving them a strong sense of recognition, even uniqueness. In this sense, the various initiatives of Le Printemps (the Personal Shoppers / Le Concierge / the Printemps Card Supreme) are all ways to serve this new strategy.
So, why do I now also attribute a "Black Mark" to the Printemps?
Because the devil lies in the details:
1. How can such a top-end service be presented as a vulgar store service: on a display placed on an empty welcome counter? A Concierge service is not trivial: it is a personalized offer aimed at high-end customers that you approach in a totally different manner from the "standard" customer.
2. On the various sites announcing Printemps Concierge it is specified that this service is offered free of charge to foreign clients: "When visiting the store, foreign clients will be graciously offered this service free of charge at the counter on the first floor of Printemps de la Mode; presentation of a passport or VIP card is all that's necessary". However, the prospectus in question is in French and does not mention this advantage: there is lack of coherence in the communication regarding the offer.
3. Today, Printemps Concierge has vanished from the Printemps website: they now announce the "Great winners of the Christmas Contest". The Concierge? Where has the Concierge gone? Besides, even when you key in "Your Services" or "Personal Shopping" it takes you to the Christmas contest page! All the high-end services have disappeared from the Printemps website! I hope it is just a programming error...
As Domenico De Sole once told me: "You can have the best strategy in the world, the difference between the excellent and the incompetent is execution, execution, execution." The Printemps example shows that good strategic decisions can bear fruit only if the implementation matches its ambitions. But the brands do not pay enough attention to these "minor" details... those that the customer / consumer is the first to notice!