Americans are purchasing luxury goods at the lowest rate in three whole years, and luxury goods stores are fighting back with a sophisticated new method to determine whether customers are enjoying their shopping experiences, reports today's Wall Street Journal. The method is called "facial coding," and it involves careful inspection of the faces of customers and sales clerks to determine whether they are....smiling at one another. (Huh!) Anyway, so columnist Christina Binkley goes shopping with facial coding analyst Dan Hill on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and guess what??? She manages not to make a single Pretty Woman reference. At jeweler Van Cleef and Arpels, they get chased away. At Yves St. Laurent:
As we gawked, a saleswoman sailed past, one corner of her mouth slightly turned up. Two upturned mouth corners make a smile, of course, but a single upturned corner amounts to the way the homecoming queen regards the president of the math club, according to Mr. Hill, who whispered, "She just gave us a contempt expression."
The best part here is that our favorite fashion blogger Lauren Goldstein Crowe weighs in on Portfolio to wonder why it is that sales clerks at fancy stores remain so snooty "in this day of mass luxury."
I'm not sure it will ever be eradicated. Because when your livelihood depends on selling expensive things to people who have much more money than you, it must feel nice to be able to look down on somebody else once and a while.
Ummmm, or your company actually instructs you to treat customers like that because, once your "luxury" brand has whored out its logo to everything from mini-backpacks to sweatsuits to Rachel Zoe, you've got to have something to maintain the illusion you're "exclusive," so that something might as well be the underpaid wage slaves who don't feel like smiling anyway.
On Style [Wall Street Journal]