Tom Stapleton

INTRODUCTION

The rise of digital marketing and digital engagement solutions is rapidly changing the way that luxury brands engage with their consumers. Traditional luxury brands are seen as being slow to move in the adoption of new technology solutions, as they present a perceived risk of diluting their in-store experiences and the branding pillars they’ve established over decades and centuries.

But now more than ever, luxury providers must embrace what is possible in a connected and mobile world or they will be at major risk of being left behind.

Digital now influences at least 45% of all luxury sales, and it’s predicted that by 2025 over a fifth of all luxury sales will be online. As high-earning luxury consumers continue to evolve and utilise their growing digital repertoire, brands must pivot towards tech solutions to ensure that an effective use of digital is a key tool in their companies armoury.

For the luxury sector, their store presence and the physical and sensory experience of shopping has always been core to fully realising their brand offering. For example, the luxury perfumer Penhaligon’s shopping experience hinged on the touch, feel, and smell of their products, the relationships that staff would build with their consumers, and the incredibly well-crafted emotionally associations of what it means to shop IN Penhaligon’s.

So, what can brands do to recreate and embody this premium experience across digital?

In the case of Penhaligon's, we recommended a bold and innovative solution that would translate their key in-store luxury features across digital. To recreate their premium feel, we worked closely with tech-adverse perfumers to capture their signature in-store fragrance profiling process and repurpose it into an elegant website that would engage their target demographics from a unique digital vantage point. Since going live and featuring across social and digital channels, 20% of all online order have come via the fragrance profiling channel.

When we work with luxury brands we seek opportunities to build overarching digital strategies that align with their business needs and the needs of their consumers. Luxury brand websites, broadly speaking, are incredibly stylish and convey their brand extremely well but struggle to replicate that same luxury feel in terms of performance; especially when it comes to user experience and functionality.

Luxury brands need to invest in websites that are intuitive and user-centric, but that also convey their key branding propositions. Through existing luxury digital assets we can develop an understanding of a bespoke digital framework to ensure it offers users a truly valuable experience that converts in a solid ROI whilst also celebrating a brands core luxury experience and protecting the richness of their brand heritage.

Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) is another medium that luxury brands could effectively leverage. Cities are becoming smarter, filled with more screen in more formats in more locations. DOOH has become a ubiquitous feature of the modern cityscape and brands need to utilise this in an effective and meaningful way. The luxury market is becoming a highly mobile segment, and outdoor ads would drive engagements almost entirely via mobile. Add to this the fact that those brands would be reaching out to mobile audiences close to the point of purchase, they would be able to make to big impact that both luxury marketing and DOOH needs to make if it is to succeed.

Learning and knowing what drives your audiences purchasing can be a huge competitive advantage for luxury brands. Leveraging these insights into user behaviours, habits, and decision drivers ensures that you can deliver the digital experiences that your consumer wants.

A deeper level of insight and understanding of the luxury consumer enables significant tailored strategies; ultimately improving those consumers experiences and making them more likely to convert.
However, it's important to note that the luxury consumer is not a homogenous group. They operate across different demographics, localities, and cultures. They continue to become increasingly internationalised, more digitally aware and savvy, and brands must keep up and reflect this accordingly.

The uptake of digital through all markets, especially luxury, is symptomatic of a generational shift. For the global consumer, magazine and print publications remain the dominant channel for discovering new brands. But for millennials, Gen Z, and digital enthusiasts, online is at the forefront of brand discoveries, and this is a trend that is only set to increase.

The time for luxury retailers to pivot is now, and with the right technology partners, those all-important luxury brand pillars can be upheld, replicated, and even augmented and advanced through a committed approach to digital.

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