Since the dawn of the current digital age, society has been reshaping and re-evolving at a faster pace. It's debatable whether modern digital age was marked by birth of Internet or manufacturing of the first computer or launching of the i-pad / smart phone, but laid the foundation of techonology permeating every aspect of our lives by creation of a new acceptable norm called 'social media'.
Luxury as a segment has been a reluctant acceptor of the digital medium in general. It's 'touch me not' aura; its dominant almost dictatorial attitude; its 'you-accept-what-we design' mentality feared the vulnerability, the openness, the high visibility, the easy accessibility besides also the easy opinion ability by 3/1'that the digital space provided.
Commerce on the net was a strict no no for luxury until sectors like travel, hospitality; tourism started seeing the benefits of the medium. The very basic reasons of fearing the space suddenly became the most important reasons to be present on the space. Soon benefits of the digital space, especially, its data gathering & analytical capabilities created a path towards the insights decision-making.
Luxury brands began to increasingly focus on scientific approach towards storytelling to create valuable experience for customers. Digitization created new ways of appealing to customers; by creating a new marketing environment that cannot be ignored. This highlights the importance of data and analytics. While the Interconnection of data and analytics can't be denied, firms should be careful in its usage to get the true picture of reality on consumer behaviour. Cutting edge marketers are simplifying their operations to achieve efficiency and speed.
'Muppies' or Millennial yuppies, as coined by American writer Michelle Miller, are the next target customer for luxury spending. This rising group of 22-35 year olds who are educated, outspoken and well exposed is also the generation that wants a higher level of connection with the brand. Modern shoppers worldwide see world in a way that retailers do not completely identify yet. This is inspiring luxury brands to engage customers through richer digital interaction and storytelling. Knowing the creative process behind a brand always helps increase the perceived value. Megan Wintersteen, lead planner at New York-based digital agency Huge, "This behind-the-scenes narrative gives millennials something to attach to and self-identify with beyond the name of the brand; Its giving the brand additional layers for shoppers to assimilate with".
Burberry has been a first mover in using digital technology to increase brand awareness. Their initiatives encompasse being the first to stream their shows in 3D, and making items featured in fashion shows available to order online during and immediately after the show. Most recently Burberry has created an innovative and technologically advanced space on Regent Street, London where digital and physical world are merged in harmony together. The new store employs a technology called radio-frequency ID, which welcomes the customers to try clothes in front of a mirror that doubles as visual displays. Sales executives use Pad's to virtually personalise the trench coats for customers and to immediately order out-of-stock inventory.
Merging social media with physical store, German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has equipped his concept stores in London and Amsterdam with 'Selfie-ready iPad's in the fitting rooms. Users can apply 'karl-inspired' photo filters before sharing the post via Facebook, Instagram, twitter etc
Posts sharing or retweeting is the social validation for brands. The ever prevalent needs are on the surface now due to presence of available technologies.
Digital platforms like 'Mercedes-Me' wouldn't have been possible a few years ago. As a seamless integration between the vehicle and the company, It gives people a chance to have automated appointments, personal financing, cocreate innovative ideas, access to maintenance data. For example, it tracks the usage and wear of brake pads and lets the firm know before customer when the car needs service.
According to a new research, two-thirds of the India's web users access social media daily. Now they spend more time on social media than emails. This fused with Indian's soaring love for luxury goods, rise in disposable incomes and influence of globalisation, is leading to exponential boost in online luxury platforms. According to an Assocham-KPMG study the Indian luxury market grew at a healthy rate of 30 per cent in 2013 and is likely to continue growing further at a healthy pace of about 20 per cent to reach USD 14 billion by 2016 owing to rising number of wealthy people, growing middle class, affluent young consumers and other related factors.
67% of Indians in metros and Tier 1 cities check for online reviews before making final purchase decisions. (nielsen company). Key portals in Indian luxury market catering exclusively to high-end brands such as Darveys, GenesisLuxury, Elitify, Stylebop, Exclusively and others offer an unique platform to choose from wide collections of high-end brands with door step deliveries. With luxury shopping comprising a sizeable market size in India, especially during the wedding season, Darveys has come up with the 'Wedding Trousseau' concept where a service of purchasing, and packaging of luxurious gifts and wedding basics is offered to the to be brides and grooms.
Digital innovation and customer centricity have raise standards across the market. This is leading to a substantial change in velocity of customer preferences and product life cycle. Mare than ever, Brands need to differentiate their value proposition while developing the required managerial skills in order to simplify their organisation systems. As marketing teams are getting integrated with different areas such as sales, IT, and product development, firms should commit to a unified approach towards the offering to customer by reducing communication gaps and hierarchies. Because while digital space is providing a seamless experience, when comes to luxury human touch is as important as luxury is about emotion and intelligence.
The millennial mindset is the most prone to seeking validation from their peer groups and is highly responsive to digital marketing drives. From posting selfies to participating in the story of the brand, is the next communication platform. Sharing inside glimpses will only entice the younger/future consumers while promoting allegiance among existing consumers. Brand, it is the next communication platform. Sharing inside glimpses will only entice the young/future consumers while promoting allegiance among existing consumers.
In short, the divide between the luxury and the digital space is all set to come down drastically. From digital dilemmato digital dominance, the path is evolving with every single passing day. Issues like malware, privacy, personalized service, attention to individual customized needs, safe and secure transactions, fight against counterfeit etc that acted as digital roadblocks are being attended to slowly and systematically. Merger of fashion- technology - luxury has begun to happen with the likes of apple watch with Hermes leather straps; driver-less Mercedes Benz cars ; and techno devices in general.
Fusion is the new digi-lux mantra.