News & Trends

Luxury brands meet the modern day

Posted by: Jen Maisch Jen Maisch
on October 26, 2016

The definition of “luxury” has taken quite a few turns within the past several years. The digital age has given Apple and Tesla the same “luxury” stamp as high-end fashion brands like Louis Vuitton and Armani. There’s technological luxe, which encompasses the latest top-of-the-line gadgets, and there’s classic luxe, which evokes the plush leather accessories, expensive materials, and exclusivity of traditional luxury brands.

Not only has the concept of luxury spread to new types of goods and services, but the accessibility of those highly-desired items has changed drastically as well. No longer are luxury items exclusively kept to storefronts on large, upper-class city streets — only to be an object of dreams and desire for most individuals. They’re now readily available through online retailers and brick-and-mortars.

So, what does the future look like for luxury brands?

The newest tech makes luxe brands more notable

Like every other section of retail, luxury brands are not excluded from the shift towards omni-channel. While they are still predominately sold out of brick-and-mortar locations (only 6 percent of luxury sales in 2015 happened online according to a new report from McKinsey & Co.), luxury goods’ digital presence is an important piece to their overall brand awareness today. In fact, three out of four purchases were influenced by an online presence before being bought in-store.

Luxury brands are also more likely to successfully integrate technology, such as beacon and RFID technologies, which can track a person’s in-store activity, remember their size, send personalized discount coupons, or ping helpful style tips straight to their mobile phone. Digital mirrors, virtual reality, and smart fitting rooms, such as in Rebecca Minkoff’s interactive store, boost the convenience factor for customers and add to the overall luxury experience. Customers can check in upon arrival, digitally choose items to have sent to their dressing rooms, and browse catalogs on a smart mirror while trying on their current selections.

Many high-end brands are taking it one step further and finding ways to integrate technology into their products — either by engineering something of their own or through a partnership. Levi’s, for example, is developing a pair of “smart jeans” with Google that will allow users to control their mobile phones with a quick pat on the side of their jeans.

Two luxuries are better than one

Speaking of partnerships, luxury brands seem to be embracing collaboration like never before. With luxury becoming more and more accessible to the mainstream, they are finding new avenues for generating demand with special limited-time products, oftentimes in partnership with another brand. For example, Apple and Hermes teamed up to create an exclusive watch, iconic to each brand’s style and status, and perhaps more desirable than either of the two companies might have developed standalone.

Luxury labels are also partnering with well-known, less expensive brands to tap into new consumer bases. Take Alexander Wang’s new line with H&M, for example. The fashion alliance gave couture cred to H&M and drove popularity from the younger masses towards Alexander Wang. And Target’s designer capsule collections are always a hot commodity, with 2015’s Lilly Pulitzer release a standout.

Immersive and extravagant

More than anything, shopping trends are pointing towards personalized experiences in luxury retail stores. This could mean letting your guests play with expensive toys before buying them (à la the Apple Store), offering extensive drink selections while they shop, or incorporating a restaurant component. Immersive shopping experiences are an interesting tactic being used by today’s top retailers to encourage shoppers to spend more time, and more money, in-store, and luxury retailers aren’t shying away from the trend.

The future still looks fabulous

Luxury is changing. People will always love exclusivity, and while new luxury brands continue to pop up, the old ones will remain timeless. However, both old and new will need to adapt as consumer habits change. Having fresh ideas can help rejuvenate the old standard of luxury and the way we shop, which means more options, more desirables, and more comfort for everyone. And isn’t comfort what luxury is all about, anyway?

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