As time goes by, it’s becoming more evident than ever before, that any brand that isn’t leveraging technology will be left behind. In a word, the aesthetic universal codes in business strategy have drastically transformed. Take 2020, for instance, with the onset of COVID; the need for businesses to reach consumers from home- without an in-person experience, is a testament to the luxury fashion metamorphosis period the industry is experiencing.
This year, the first remote fashion week, was not only relevant but rather a strong indicator of how the consumer has now been elevated to an editor by filtering their own taste and curiosity. This innovation proved one thing: If you can’t leverage technology, your business may not last the test of time. More to the point, technology is a constant reassessment of how the fashion business has operated over the last few decades. In a word, consumers have witnessed first hand that technology can simply the shopping experience. Therefore, if you’re not making things easy for your customers, you may wander to new territory where technology can play a huge part in marketing, customer service/satisfaction, and product delivery. The luxury space thrives because advertisers have been able to reach costumes on an emotional level. Buyers of luxurious products believe that these luxury products give them a particular image, and to maintain that image, they have to get more of these luxury products.
Nevertheless, the industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic with the closure of brick and mortar stores. In addition, day =-to-day activities came to a halt. Ironically, at this time,—the demand for luxury products surged. Consumers who still patronized luxury brands took to online shopping, which will soon be the norm in a post-COVID world. In an article by Bain & Company, it stated: “Approximately half of all luxury purchases will be digitally enabled thanks to new technologies along the value chain, and online interactions will influence nearly all luxury purchases.”
Now more than ever, consumers are demanding an offline experience in addition to the comfort from buying online. Morphing the two together can only be gotten through Artificial Intelligence and this is where high-end luxury fashion brands are moving to in the modern age of fashion apparel and accessories.
Throughout my career, my research has always focused on men’s and women’s luxury fashion. To my point, fashion is not conventional. Today, artificial intelligence brings that needed personalization and customers back to the brand. Luxury brands such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Estée Lauder, Tommy Hilfiger and even Levis have leveraged chatbots to add that human touch, needed for today’s customers. From the exclusive access, previews, and style tips, it is a strategy that heightens the customer experience by making everyone feel like a VIP.
For example, Burberry understands by using chatbots to send push notifications to each consumers who had previously interacted with the technology. According to Luxury society, as of November 2016, they allowed their users to preview the Burberry movie. The following year, they invited their customers through the chatbot to view their runway show live on Facebook while shopping the newly featured collection.
Going further, brands leverage AI to monitor their browsing history to provide better-targeted emails that show users’ content based on their choices. This trend moves far beyond the fashion and luxury e-commerce platform and segues into the entertainment space with rapid flow. Although music streaming companies already use AI for music recommendations, there are possibilities that AI will be used to do more than recommend music to you. Imagine reading your body vitals like heart rate, stress levels, breathing rate, and possibly even neurological signals through wearable technology and recommending music from your mood? Well, the same can be said for fashion and beauty.
“Today’s consumers want ease and an exceptional buying experience. Brands that offer the least stress around their product/service delivery own the future,” says Business Development expert Paul Iwenofu.
Although I do not report on this topic, the rise of wearable technology is segueing into mass marketed fashion brands for everyday use.m The fashion industry has embraced wearable technology with two hands. These go beyond smartwatches. These days, shirts, blouses, jackets, and tops that respond to the wearers’ mood, environment, and the ones that keep the body temperature balanced. And this is just the beginning.
Recently, Ralph Lauren introduced a PoloTech T-shirt with sensors that track live metrics like breathing, heart rates, and steps straight to your Apple Watch or iPhone.
My dear friend and fellow colleague Salvatore Giardina, an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, commented on the PoloTech and said, “People are just information addicts today. My gut feeling is it will do well because it’s not just something that looks nice; it gives you information.”
“What seems science fiction now may be the norm in 10 years,” Giardina points out.
Another area where lifestyle brands are heading to is Augmented Reality (AR). Gucci is doing impressive work in this area with their virtual try-on feature. They added an AR feature on the IOS app that allows shoppers to try on their sneakers. All you need to do is point your phone on your feet, and shoppers can see a digital image of the sneakers from different angles. This helps shoppers make an informed decision when trying to make purchases. And other luxury fashion brands have followed suit as well. Nike lets its customers scan their feet with a smartphone camera to get customized recommendations on their correct shoe size.
Even the luxury automotive industry has been co-branding with luxury fashion brands. When it comes to co-branding and modified technology, luxury automotive brands are not taking the backseat (pun-intended). For instance, BMW has also brought AR into their services. Their AR tech allows users to operate real-life virtual care with their phone’s camera and sensor. It feels like a video game because you can change the interiors or lights. Ultimately, it is useful for helping customers make their purchases.
Finally, the use of influence marketing, especially in the luxury niche, is becoming more and more important as mankind moves into the future. At first, luxury brands didn’t believe in social media —for fear that it would have made their products appear less luxurious. Nowadays, new luxury fashion influencers are popping-up every day due to the demand in the marketplace.
Studies present that 66%+ of luxury brands are actively using influencer marketing to promote their brand. The benefits of influencer marketing are grand in scope. Most of all, the ROI studies show that businesses earn $6.50 for each dollar spent on influencers, with the top 13% making $20 or even more.
It seems to me that the never-ending search for change is racing to keep up with consumer buying habits and overall lifestyle. The world is changing, and so is the market. Today’s customers demand more. They want personalization, ease of service, and a great buying experience. Although fashion retail has evolved, forthright fashion and beauty brands are well aware of the importance of a retail physical locations for various reasons in today’s consumer marketplace.
I recently had the pleasure to interview Kian Vessal Founder of Mega Mansions luxury fashion company. Followed by global fashion and beauty brands, celebrities and athletes —including Lebron James, Lionel Messi, Justin Bieber to just name a few. Kian Vessal discusses his inside scoop on his journey in the luxury space and the importance of luxury fashion and beauty brands developing brand culture and consumer acceptance in that space.
Joseph DeAcetis: What inspired you to go into the luxury brand business?
Kian Vessal -It was always interesting to see the things that we don’t normally see, things that are exclusive. It could be a one-of-a-kind watch, a handmade suit, or a luxury vacation. With regards to Mega Mansions, the inspiration was to showcase the world’s most exclusive homes that very few people were able to catch sight of and experience. Seeing the boundaries pushed with stunning architectural designs and builds is something a lot of people really enjoy and engage with including myself.
Joseph DeAcetis: In your words, how will brick & mortar retail space still be relevant with the remote fashion shopping and overall digital space?
Kian Vessal: I think that fashion retail is still necessary and relevant as the brick and mortar business moves into to the future. Luxury fashion brands will still require a physical space to connect the remote world of digital space with product offerings and curating the architecture and fashion displays reflecting the a fashion brands culture. This helps shoppers connect with a location when trying to make purchases. Moreover, a retail brick and mortar space is a reality point where customers can meet and connect with others in the same space. It is a testament to the brand.
Joseph DeAcetis: What’s the unique strategy you can say has helped you get to over 2.4 million followers on Instagram?
Kian Vessal -Every Instagram account has different ways in order to gain followers which is mainly to do with their content however one key strategy is consistency.
Joseph DeAcetis: Despite the heavy competition in the luxury brand space, how do you thrive?
Kian Vessal -We have managed to be consistent and introduce a unique style of content that best fits our followers and demographic. We thrive by showing people fascinating content they have never seen before simultaneously bringing our followers ideas, inspiration, and motivation.