Consumers no longer buy as before. A customer’s buying journey has been transformed. Luxury brands are sometimes struggling to grasp the new digital codes and attract the ultra-connected generations labeled Generation Y. Since 2020, they have already surpassed their parents’ purchasing power. What should luxury brands do to survive and adapt in the digital age?
Who is part of Generation Y?
They are 18-34 years old, and even younger according to some studies. They represent 2 billion of the world’s population since 2017. Digital natives have grown up with the Internet and understand the world through the digital lens. To seduce them, luxury brands must adapt to new means of communication.
How to survive? Experience Vs Product
In order to survive, brands must put consumer experience before the product. When an individual makes a luxury purchase, he or she is not tapping into their rational part of the brain, rather basing their purchase on aesthetics and feeling towards a given product.
Some brands have perfectly understood this phenomenon, focusing on ensuring that the brand offers an experience in itself.
It starts with a connected store. Consumers can, for example, try on items with an RFID (radio frequency identification) tag, which will transmit the item code to the interactive mirror in the booth and suggest other items that consumers might like.
Some brands also implement the concept of see now buy now, allowing consumers to directly buy the clothes seen during the fashion show they attend. A truly disruptive concept when one knows the usual delays between fashion shows and the marketing of their collections. A practice increasingly used today by Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger and many others, these brands have transformed fashion shows to become experiences directly aimed at seducing Generation Y. These fashion shows can also be enriched with activities and services including Yoga sessions, manicures, and wine tastings.
This may still seem unheard of for some luxury brands, but this is what works! To seduce Generation Y, the experience comes before the product.
Heritage Vs new technologies – luxury brand and digital strategy
How to stand out when all the brands have an online presence? How to keep a luxury brand’s DNA, exclusivity, scarcity, and know-how?
Brands are now able to gain in competitiveness thanks to technological innovation.
Luxury can be defined by rare materials or special know-how. Why couldn’t technology be one of these scarce raw materials? Technological innovation will become a sought-after and exclusive raw material. An example to note is found in the marketing of smart clothes that keep body heat or connected watches. Hermès has also partnered with Apple for one of their products, the Apple Watch Hermès.
The ultimate weapon: the storytelling
Who hasn’t heard of content strategy or storytelling, the art of telling stories? A technique that makes it possible to offer content without disturbing the user experience and to bypass
Storytelling fits well with luxury brands, because they generally base their communication on the emotions and values of their brand. Two elements that are very difficult to transmit via the Internet!
When buying online, the whole buying “ritual” in the store is broken. Magic doesn’t work the same way. To overcome this, creating video content will highlight the identity of brands. It is a format that is booming and it is very suitable for telling the story of a brand, conveying emotions, and making people dream. Brands use YouTube, Facebook Videos or get instant stories with Instagram or Snapchat, or Tik Tok.
Using mass communication channels does not mean losing a luxury brand’s DNA. Keeping a brand’s DNA means keeping the characteristics of the brand: way of speaking, visual identity (logo, color, etc.), history, etc.
Our brain also retains better the information told through a story. According to experts in millennials and luxury brands, the brands that survive will be those that share the best stories and experience in a way that will reach the masses.
Trust fashion blogger influencers
Digital makes it possible to create a relationship between the brand and the consumer, but above all, between consumers themselves. There is an exchange relationship. Consumers are no longer alone in their purchasing decisions. Brands now use intermediaries whom they no longer control such as bloggers and youtubers to communicate about their brand. We often talk about Social shopping, which demonstrates a generation addicted to social networks and brands in the ever-increasing need for intermediaries.
In practice, collaborating with influencers who correspond to a brand’s identity can improve the latter’s notoriety, disruptive branding (more modern, positive feeling, etc.) and even skyrocket sales.
This is most certainly one of the most important points! When building a marketing strategy, one may decide to use various media channels.
This could take the form of investment in time or money in owned media (owned like a store), in paid media (buying advertising space) or in earned media (the one obtained thanks to Internet users). If luxury brands used to focus on owned or paid media, today, earned media is becoming essential.
In summary, all communication channels are important. The purchase journey for a luxury product can range from an article worn by a blogger on Instagram, a purchase made online, a return to a store and customer follow-up via Facebook’s Messenger app. Best is to be present everywhere to support customers throughout their buying journey.
The Digital Market: threat or opportunity?
Communication channels have changed and this phenomenon sometimes terrifies luxury brands. They must appeal to a generation that will have more purchasing power than their parents without losing their essence.
At first, luxury brands feared that social networks were too accessible. With Instagram, it is possible to maintain a certain distance, so that brands can still sell dreams and be desirable. Brands must think in terms of becoming known through social networks, while being “almost” accessible, but not fully. This nuance is crucial and often determines the success or failure of good communication for a luxury brand on social networks.
The success of their digital transformation lies in their digital approach. If they see this transformation as an opportunity and use new communication channels with the right strategy, they will rise above their competitors.