For luxury retail, the recovery starts on mobile phones first

The longer the confinement lasts, the more the changes it implies in our ways of living and working are likely to become permanently entrenched in our daily lives. While luxury m-commerce was already strongly growing in GCC before the epidemic, the ability to curate luxury goods from your mobile and purchase them is wide-spreading.

To date, two discourses are clashing over the possible scenarios of deconfinement. On the one hand, proponents of the change believe that consumers will refocus on the essentials and engage less with luxury brands. On the other hand, supporters of a rapid recovery envisage, "catching up" after months of constraints, around "pleasure spending". It is still difficult to predict which ones will be right.

However, a glance at China, where economic activity is gradually picking up again, shows that some sectors are regaining their audience more quickly than others. This is particularly the case for luxury goods. For example, on its first day of reopening, the Hermès boutique in the city of Guangzhou was overwhelmed, breaking all sales records, with a revenue of $2.7 million.

While people could not spend enough time and luxury retail shops, consumers dreamed and engaged through their smartphones with all virtual touchpoints of their favourite brands. They may have identified references they would enjoy buying as soon as the lockdown is lifted. The dreamy side of luxury goods has never been more appealing.

The dream within reach

While luxury brands need to continue to bring their values to life in stores, this crisis reminds them that they have a duty more than ever to offer a seamless omnichannel experience to their customers.

The key for them is to be able to convey emotion and continue to make people dream about their products in a way that is as relevant online as it is in the point of sale. Because nothing will ever be the same again, the emotional shock induced by the crisis will durably change purchasing behaviour. The luxury customer experience must be reinvented around a more assertive digital experience.

Among its new imperatives, the brand will have to be able to provide the right personalization tools on mobile phones, via an ultra-quality 3D experience. It is indeed in the DNA of luxury to offer tailor-made products. And for this experience to be truly seamless, the possibility to access all the variations of the same object will also have to be available in the store, via digital furniture or shelves, for example. More than ever, luxury brands need state of the art Digital Asset Management platforms and analytics tools to deliver insights to all brand associates.

Translating emotion and arousing envy from a screen

In every crisis, there are winners and losers. Luxury brands made the shift to digital a few years ago, but many are still lagging in this area, they will likely suffer more in the current crisis. The forward-looking brands are those who have understood the importance of a consistent experience between physical and digital points of sale. The smartphone screen is today the first showcase for brands for the millennials and the Z generation, but above all, it is the engine of growth and acquisition for luxury brands. Efficient investment in mobile technologies is a necessity, deploying proper analytics and ROI measurement tools are the new Graal. The more engaging the virtual customer journey, the more satisfying the luxury experience will be. A crisis such as the one we are experiencing reminds us that if a brand does not exist online or on mobile, it does not exist at all.

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