As Fashionista reads yet more gloomy news about the UK economy, she is heartened to learn that life as a recessionista does not compel her to shopping only in the High Street chains. Samantha Cameron's high profile outing in a "bespoke" M&S dress suggests that M&S is certainly keen to provide a personal service - at least for some - but it is Elizabeth Sieff, a grand daughter of the founder of Marks & Spencer, who has come up with an idea designed to appeal to all recessionista fashionistas. Little Emperors & Co launches on Monday and is a new take on the increasingly popular "private club" concept - only this time it is a membership service designed to provide access to coveted brands at a discount - all the time, not just during special promotions or sales. So, how does it work and who is behind it?
With a passion for luxury, Elizabeth Sieff noticed a niche in the market for a membership service for consumers who, just like Fashionista, feel increasingly uneasy and price conscious in the economic downturn but still want to live a luxury lifestyle. At the same time the luxury brands are struggling to find ways to maintain relationships with their customers.
Elizabeth says: ‘Luxury brands want to see their customer relationships through this difficult time and strengthen their bond rather than only seeing them sporadically - the obvious path to go down is incentives. Discounts in the simplest form don’t fit luxury profiles so we created Little Emperors & Co as an exclusive service allowing brands to offer their most valued customers a special reduced rate without compromising brand integrity’.
With over 1000 retail partners in Little Emperors, Fashionista will qualify for discounts when she shops, eats, travels and much more provided she buys from the list of partners and pays the hefty annual membership fee of £575. The thinking behind it is that the discounts should outweigh the cost of the card so that dedicated users will make their money back quickly and go on to make even more savings. So it is intended to be a "win win" for both luxury brands and consumers.
It's a simple idea - to benefit fully Fashionista knows that she must hone her purchasing to ensure that it is concentrated on the list of partners. It won't work if her membership card suffers the same fate as her infamous new year gym membership.
Fashionista wonders whether there are other creative minds looking for ways to encourage retail spending amongst recessionistas - she hopes so. And will watch the progress of Little Emperors with interest.