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How can brands adapt to change in the luxury sector?

23 September 2019
dua lipa sat in front of a red jaguar car

As luxury consumers' behaviour changes from 'having' to 'being', experiences are being increasingly valued as much as products. Brands can capitalise on this by creating experiences that are the sweet spot between brand aspiration and brand vision. Here we discuss how new consumer attitudes are shifting the definition of what luxury is and challenging the way brands need to behave, look and engage with their customers.

How can my luxury brand be progressive when it’s steeped in heritage?

While respect for heritage isn’t dead, heritage by itself is not enough to satisfy younger consumers. ‘Brandalism’, where marketeers disrupt and subvert formerly sacrosanct brand codes, is becoming a fast-track to modernity.

Why it’s interesting...

If you are struggling to reach a new generation of customers, playing with ‘brandalism’ allows you to step outside your comfort zone with confidence, telling your story in new ways which surprise and delight. This agile and reactive approach can win attention and drive sales, whilst limiting risk to the brand.

Who's doing it well?

Burberry's iconic nova check was brandalised last year by the addition of a graffiti scrawl. Yes, this move encompasses the brandalism trend but it also nods to a deeper level of irony that may be lost on some Gen Z fans who don’t remember the pattern’s fall to ‘chav’ mainstay in the early 2000s.

Gucci arguably spearheaded this trend with Alessandro Michele's irreverent take on the brand’s codes and fun approach to marketing (note the memme-inspired social media ad above).

“The idea of selling a brand by simply saying that it has been going for 200 years is gone.”

Adrian Cheng

Executive Manager, New World Development

How can my brand be truly authentic?

Authenticity is no longer just about heritage, craft or quality. It’s about having a clear brand purpose. Consumers want brands that are transparent and align with their personal values.

Why it’s interesting...

If you’re looking for true authenticity, you need to understand your purpose, which means starting with why you exist. Brand experiences that are underpinned by purpose-driven principles allow authenticity to shine through and paves the way for long-term relationships. Brands adopting this approach are resonating with modern luxury consumers and seeing increased loyalty.

Net-a-Porter Net Sustain
Net-a-Porter Net Sustain

Who’s doing it well?

Net-a-Porter recently launched a section on its website called Net Sustain, where customers can shop the most environmentally conscious high-end brands from around the world. All the brands in this section have to meet at least one of five key attributes that take into account human, animal and environmental welfare and align with internationally recognised best practices in the fashion and beauty industries.

“91% of global consumers said they would reward a brand for its authenticity via purchase, investment, endorsement or similar action.”

Cohn and Wolfe

Authentic 100, 2017

How can digital enhance my brand experience?

A fear that digital tools don't give the same level of exclusivity as a one-to-one interaction has been a barrier for some luxury brands adopting digital and immersive technologies.

Why it’s interesting...

Finding a balance between using digital tools to enhance your brand and maintaining personalisation and exclusivity can be challenging. If you want to be more digitally-focused, the key to success is identifying ways to embed digital across your customer experience effortlessly and invisibly. It should be woven seamlessly into the offline experience, existing as an enabler for a rounded, connected brand experience.

Who's doing it well?

Luxury Swiss watch brand, Formex uses Leap Motion technology that allows customers to 'try on' watches virtually for an unexpected and delightful experience.

“82% of millennials would prefer face-to-face interactions with their wealth advisor than digital.”

Deloitte 2017

How can I manage my brand when it’s in the hands of customers?

Social media is shifting the balance of power between brand and audience. Brands that used to create their image from the top—down, must now compete with the lens of the influencer and anyone with a smartphone can be one.

Why it’s interesting...

If you’re facing the challenge of how to actively manage your brand in the social space, identifying opportunities for steering conversations rather than being left out will pay dividends. Starting a dialogue within your customers’ tribes is an important way to exercise brand control and talk to your audience on a level they understand.

Who's doing it well?

Jaguar and Dua Lipa started a global conversation using a tech-driven experience that allowed everyone to create their own 'PACE Remix' of Dua Lipa's track 'Want To'. The experience had immediate impact with impressive depth and reach, and the song is now the most remixed in history.

“49% of businesses surveyed see how they invest in social media strategies as the biggest challenge to growth in the luxury market.”

State of Luxury 2018

Luxury Daily

What is the value of a personalised experience?

Reflecting the climate for self-expression, luxury audiences expect experiences as individual as they are. Personalisation has become the norm, and brand experiences become relevant when they prize the bespoke and unique.

Why it’s interesting...

Personalisation helps brands cut-through in an attention-deficit economy. Not just an opportunity for bespoke offerings; when measured effectively they can allow the experience to adapt in real time to individual drivers. If you understand customer journeys and key data points, you will better understand the value of your audience and create experiences which matter.

Who's doing it well?

Tiffany & Co.’s new James Street store features a customisation bar where customers can have recent purchases engraved or embossed. This coincides with a new look for the heritage jeweller that also includes them subverting their brand codes.

“Powerful personalisation experiences deliver up to 6% uplifts in revenue per visitor.”