In a short profile of ‘luxury sales consultant’ Jean-Marie Brücker, we discover a few psychological techniques he teaches to his clients on how to sell high-end luxury goods:

  • Describe an item in terms of its ‘value’ rather than it’s ‘price’ or ‘cost’.
  • Sell a story (‘romance’ and ‘emotions’) rather than ‘products’.
  • The macaroon technique: sandwiching the price “between the product’s more romantic benefits”.
  • Harbour and elicit positive emotions–they sell (e.g. compliment your customer on their existing items, even if they’re from your competitors.
  • Don’t discount. Gift instead (discounts get forgotten, free gifts don’t).
  • Create contrast between old, existing items and new ones.
  • Suggest ‘sorry-gifts’ for those who may lay guilt on the purchasing party (e.g. their partner)

As ever with these things, I believe you could summarise it as: play on and exploit a customer’s emotions (happiness, guilt, etc.) while using subtle linguistic tricks to disguise the price.

These happen to be key tenets of casino marketing, which revolves around flattering men, distracting their wives, and keeping them around as long as possible; the longer they stay, the more likely they are to spend money. But Mr. Brücker was never disdainful of customers—in fact, he championed the need for better, more thoughtful service that makes the customer sense caring and quality —the stuff of luxury.

“You’re selling pure emotion,” he said. “That’s why I love this job.”