Digital transformation is a very trendy topic today. Companies claim to be implementing it, and sectors try, in vain, to resist to it. In fact, digital transformation touches many different sectors, such as banking, health and even agriculture. We expect almost all sectors to succumb to this revolution, and adapt to it. The luxury world, which is made of dream and exclusivity, was one sector we didn’t imagine building an unbreakable love story with digital. Why were luxury and digital thought to be very incompatible? And how is this sector adapting to the changes and making miracles? I will discuss these two debatable points throughout this article.
Luxury: the exclusive art of dreaming
By definition, luxury is a huge sector built on three main pillars: exclusivity, experience and dream. When buying a Chanel handbag, a Balmain blazer or sipping a glass of champagne at Les Caves du Roy in Saint-Tropez, luxury consumers do not only purchase the good or service, but they also realize a dream, and expect a part of the brand history and heritage to be transferred to them.
A golden experience must accompany elitist customers in every different stage of the purchase cycle. In-store experience is an essential point that luxury brands compete on, apart from quality, elegance and prestige. Privileged customers must feel relaxed and pampered in a luxury store.
Luxury and digital: a controversy
As explained, luxury is a privilege and a pleasure that only upper class can afford and enjoy. Thus, it acquired exclusivity and prestige characteristics. In parallel to this exclusive luxury, there is the Internet. The latter is accessible and used by everyone; it is a true symbol of democratisation since the 90s. It is ever growing, and represents a huge community of 3.2 billion users.
The reasons why these two worlds are different are quite obvious. One is élite and limited to a certain social class, while the other is, on the contrary, very accessible to everyone, rich or poor. Mixing them up, and combining them would, according to many experts, stain the luxury brand image. It would deprive it from its higher status, its exclusivity and its limited accessibility. Thus, breaking the main pillars that luxury is based on. What is luxury without exclusivity, experience and dream?
Today’s luxury: dreaming through digital
To the surprise of many, digital and luxury started a beautiful love story. One can say they are inseparable now. Luxury brands are even using digital tools and strategies to compete. It became a competitive advantage, and an important element to the brand image. Like Cartier’s odyssey web-series, many brands are creating beautiful digital initiatives that brings them closer to their client, providing them with an innovative yet prestigious experience, both in-store and online. Interactive and engaging activities represent a perfect win-win situation, for both customers and brands. The latter collects CRM data about their customers, for loyalty and marketing purposes, and accompanies them in-store and online. There are many examples of beautiful activities and campaigns luxury houses realised using digital.
In a previous article, I discussed the partnership between Yves Saint Laurent and Google glass. The concept is brilliant. Its aim is to offer customers an interactive experience in-store and follow them through the online stages of the purchasing process.
Van Cleef & Arpels created minisite for the brand allowing their customers to dream of a beautiful fairy tail. The jewellery brand perfectly proves the point that luxury possesses so many cards to play in digital, like the one of storytelling. In addition to that, the brand installed an interactive window in Paris on place Vendôme, where people passing by can discover a 360 degree view of the jeweller’s workshop, showing its perfectionism and its traditional know-how.
Whether one starts the purchasing cycle online or in-store, luxury brands deliver a prestigious omnichannel experience, thanks to the digital transformation of the industry. Useful information about customers is collected and stored, to offer them a better experience, that is personalized and interactive. This brings the brand and its customers closer. In addition to that, digital tools are used by the biggest brands to make their customers discover and dream more…