Trends in basic indulgences like travel, shopping, even fashion shows have changed completely, carried by completely different vessels, processes and media.
The same applies to the term luxury, a glitzy, gilded vocabulary previously attached to all things expensive and shiny. As the world changes, the significance of it is transforming too, from consumers’ expectations all the way to what each transaction entails. One thing’s for sure, luxury is now more a question of longer term strategy than single touch point impression to ensure survival.
Relevance over heritage
Heritage is and always has been a big key part of luxury. Burberry’s trenchcoats would be nowhere near as popular as it is now without its involvement in the World War; neither would Rolls-Royce’s splendid vehicles if it weren’t for its reputation of being handmade and hand-assembled from start to finish in the grounds of Goodwood. While it’s a nice story for any brand with a long storied history to tell and enchant new fans, the pandemic turned things around to prioritise the now. What that means is that brands now need to be relevant instead of constantly romantically reminiscing the past. People care less about Dior dressing royalties and more about them transforming ateliers into factories producing much needed hand sanitisers and protective equipments. To stay ahead, brands need to read the room and join in common causes so people know they’re on the same page and, more importantly, same timeline.
Customisation includes services
One thing money can assure you in the world of luxury is coveted customisation that lets you expresss yourself. From Fendi’s ABCharms to spell out your initials or Jaeger-Le Coultre’s engraving services on its watches and more, luxury allows a small part of ourselves to be cast upon and tied to our favourite brands. These bespoke touches say you’re not like everybody else – you have great taste and that is uniquely you. With the dawn of the pandemic and people were forced to stay home, these customisations now include door-to-door delivery and other specially-for-you concierge services. Brands need to find a way to make their customers feel special, especially when they’re all now confined to the walls of their own homes. La Mer is among the first to introduce their concierge delivery service, standing them out from other skincare brands that went down the road of saturation Buy One Free One or Purchase With Purchase deals. It successfully kept the prestige of its branding and pricing while standing out from a sea of skincare sales.
Ownership to experiences and back again
Circa 2010, trends noted a shift from luxury spenders spending on products to experiences that they can see, taste, feel and live. LVMH even created a special platform for this niche of customers looking for exceptional experiences called Clos19 that curates bespoke travels to exotic locations and more, complemented by fine wines and offerings under the LVMH umbrella. With travel now off the books for the foreseeable future, consumers are revenge shopping again because the avenues to spend their money had considerably shrunk. More acutely, they are spending their money online so digitisation is important for many brands looking to secure a piece of the spending pie. This applies to more than just e-commerce; it is an all encompassing war to grab their attention and retain it, a big battle played out on social media where digital engagement is king.
Tailored local experiences
With luxury, the more well-known you are worldwide, the more prestigious your brand is deemed. Today, however, with borders closed and flights halted, brands – particularly those in travel and hospitality – need to look within local playing fields and pay attention to the local clienteles once more. This covers their branding, public relations and marketing communication to shoppers who are growing increasingly savvy. Royal Selangor has always stayed true to its local heritage, releasing capsule collections that honour Malaysian tradition and roots, staying at the top of mind of locals even after more than 130 years. International brands are also seeing the importance of speaking to their locales, like Johnnie Walker John Walker & Sons that recently celebrated the heritage of local Chinese clans with its Legacy Collection painted to honour in the three main clans of Hakka, Hokkien and Cantonese of Malaysian Chinese.
How luxury brands fare during this uncertain times remains to be seen but in less than a year, business as they know it has been turned completely on its head. It would be wise to stay alert and ahead to continue the race.
(Photos: Pexels and respective brands)