When the pandemic hit last March, we all had to adapt. Initially, the industry reacted with its heart, pivoting to meet key needs. Jo Malone switched its production from fragrances to hand sanitiser. Fashion house Private White VC swapped making jackets for making PPE equipment. Mulberry paused work at its handbag factory to create scrubs for the NHS.
But the change went beyond an outbreak of the heart. A series of lockdowns forced businesses into closing their doors and for many it was a chance to re-strategise and re-think too. It triggered a sort of fight or flight response in business. Leaders found themselves at a crossroads with many decisions to make.
Although we’re continuing to face challenging situations, there is also a great opportunity ahead. Digital was by far the biggest driver in changing consumer behaviour, as people spent more time indoors and online. So, how can brands redesign a unique experience around their new lifestyles? We’ve rounded up 3 simple ways to do just that in 2021.
Conversations online are nothing new. But the past year has shown us that customers are looking for a deeper, more meaningful connection with the brands they follow. People are encouraged to stay at home, pushing them to consume more content online. What’s more, the events of 2020 meant that brands could no longer take a neutral stance on politics and current affairs, encouraging them to align to their customers’ core values.
As we move into extended periods of lockdowns and restrictions, it’s important to keep strengthening those personal connections with customers and keeping the conversation going. Brands such as Dior chose to launch podcasts, retracing the history behind their founding values and connecting with customers on wider topics. For others, it’s been a case of elevating core messages that were already there – think Tesla’s marketing success story as a high power, yet eco-friendly, alternative to its traditional competitors.
Augmented Reality has really come into the spotlight over the past few months, with many third-party apps offering virtual try-ons, games and makeovers to simulate the in-store experience. They are much-needed tools in the evolving digital economy. However, they sometimes struggle to recreate the personal touch that many luxury customers crave in store.
So, how have brands been bridging the gap? It turns out there are many ways to do so. Harvey Nichols has encouraged consumers to use its Ask An Expert service. It works by accompanying users that are navigating the e-commerce site, just as they might walk them through a particular department in store. Burberry and Valentino have increasingly turned to WhatsApp to talk to their high-net-worth customers, while Harrods has been encouraging video calls in a range of languages to connect with a truly international audience.
Independent personal shoppers are on the rise too. Gabriel Waller is a great example, offering global sourcing services to a range of high-end clients and celebrities, sourcing limited edition and sold out pieces to save customers time. These services can often connect with physical retail stores too, with the likes of the Farfetch Fashion Concierge app allowing retailers to effectively fulfil requests as they arise.
Changing restrictions have only emphasised the importance of keeping customers and fans engaged – even when it’s not “business as usual”. It’s a chance to listen closely to what the community is saying and offer opportunities for deeper connection.
Luxury outreach strategies continue to power forward to mirror other parts of the economy. The Savoy offered a great example of this, when they collaborated with key worker Damien Hewetson after spotting his photography on social media. By connecting with new audiences in this way, they were able to boost their online engagement by 50 per cent during the initial lockdown period.
In fact, 66% of luxury brands are now actively using influencer marketing to promote their products, increasing ROI by an average of 6%. Some of those brands, such as Goop or Kora Organics, have gone one step further to bring the two concepts together and put a human face to the brand. Miranda Kerr does just that with her own brand, hosting masterclasses on Instagram Live to offer followers a tangible experience that they can easily recreate at home. Other brands such as Gleneagles have preferred direct communication, using social and behavioural data to understand what their customers are looking for.
Just as brands are evolving, here at Dweet we understand that your career will be evolving over this time too. It’s a chance for us all to upskill, to get creative with our daily tasks and projects and try new ways of working. The luxury industries are not just offering more flexibility to their customer experience, they are changing the way they interact with their workers too – creating a new, agile workforce to write the next chapter.
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