London Fashion Week: Luxury brands take note
Shalina Ganatra, senior consultant at Salmon, a Wunderman Commerce Company, recently attended London Fashion Week and shared her perspective with Global Marketing Alliance on how luxury brands must adapt to meet their customers' demands. Shalina discusses the online strategy luxury brands should adopt to develop their personal shopping offering and how they must get the basics right when gathering customer data to create a better and faster tailored shopping experience.
No longer can a brand’s unique selling point – the high-quality and scarcity of goods – be enough to separate it from competitors and retain the customer’s interest and subsequent loyalty. So, how can luxury brands take the achievements of events such as London Fashion Week and translate it into success?
If luxury brands fail to mature digital services, customers will choose better online alternatives
The retail sector is arguably one of the most competitive industries in the world. Name another sector where brands such as Amazon, Nike, Puma, Walmart, Vans, Zara and many more all compete? These brands are in constant competition to provide the best product and, ultimately, secure the customer’s loyalty in the long-term.
For luxury brands, such as Tommy Hilfiger and Chanel, the challenges in today’s retail world are starkly different in comparison. Previously, luxury brands benefitted because they were able to provide products that were desirable and unparalleled in quality. While this is still somewhat true, the truth is the market is being driven by convenience and immediacy. And customers are increasingly valuing this as much as core luxury values. Amazon prospers as it continues to provide a consistent service that is simple and fast; in fact, almost 40% of online spend goes through it. Via its innovative services such as Amazon Echo and Prime, it is slowly, but very loudly, connecting shoppers to its vast online marketplace; locking competitors out of the market.
Luxury brands must figure out a way of connecting their luxury offline appearance with an online platform. They need to focus on a long-term digital strategy and create a roadmap that isn’t just obsessed with technology, but develops the right service for their customers. Thankfully, they are beginning to do this. A huge element of London Fashion Week is social media, where brands can share and engage with fashion trends. Last year, Tommy Hilfiger recognised this and introduced its See-Now, Buy-Now Show so customers could buy the items that they liked at the show immediately, rather than waiting months. It’s this type of straightforward and easy-to-use service that customers will demand in the digital age
The Programmatic personal shopper
As we shift towards simplicity and speed in our shopping experience, Programmatic Commerce may well change the way we purchase our desired fashion items. The process of Programmatic Commerce is the automated purchase of products – based on pre-determined characteristics; a trial version of the concept has already been used by Brita and Amazon.
However, the challenge in fashion is far greater than the FMCG sector, as different shoppers will tailor their habits according to personal preference. This is where the value of data will be critical to success. In order to meet customers’ expectations, brands will need to combine the different data points together to build a comprehensive profile of the shopper. Naturally, this may raise trust concerns – would a customer allow a brand or retailer to spend money for them based on their budget, previous behaviour and preference data? This becomes even more challenging in luxury fashion, when the value can often reach four or even five figures.
It isn’t impossible to imagine a world where a system would learn which products go best together, match a customer’s sizing and then place an order on their behalf. Amazon Echo could be seen as the first step in achieving this as consumers accept Amazon into the home. Taking this one step further, an app could sync with the customer’s calendar, trace important upcoming events (such as Christmas parties or holidays), and suggest products based on these future occasions. This doesn’t sound too far away from the type of personal assistant that time-poor luxury shoppers would highly value.
Online strategy luxury brands – feed consumers’ craving for speed
Although luxury brands have their strong heritage, they do not necessarily understand the technology that is revolutionising the retail sector today and is being widely adopted by fast-fashion brands. The likes of Asos, Boohoo and Zara have succeeded by filling this gap between quality and online services.
Shockingly, a number of high-end brands keep their website as a store front, but don’t provide the capability for the customers to transact immediately. Luxury brands must wake up and realise that they face the risk of becoming digitally disenfranchised if they don’t step up their online presence and connect their online and offline worlds together.
Ultimately, it’s not just about being a luxury brand any more, but is rather about securing a loyal following. In an era where new high-end labels are being created online, and fast-fashion brands like Topshop are entering the wardrobes of shoppers alongside designers, both luxury and high-street has never been fiercer with competition.
Failing to harness online to elevate one’s brand and products is an opportunity missed. And smarter, more agile competitors will surely take the place of any brand that cannot connect the off and online experience together.
Shalina Ganatra works with Salmon’s global clients to help them make the most of their digital potential, which includes developing their strategy and plans for more tactical initiatives. To discuss how Shalina may be able to help you with business change, contact us today.