The halls of The Four Seasons Geneva were bustling last Wednesday with professionals from all spheres of the luxury industry.
This year’s Luxury Society Keynote gathered more than 100 attendees representing 60 luxury and premium brands including luxury watch and jewellery houses Cartier, Chopard, Patek Philippe, Breitling, Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Piaget, but also well-established beauty, finance and fashion brands L'Occitane, Clarins, Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) and Ralph Lauren.
These diverse minds all came together to address a compelling challenge for today’s age: how can brands effectively enhance the customer journey to reach an increasingly dynamic consumer-base?
Luxury Society’s parent company, international-based digital marketing agency DLG (Digital Luxury Group), has held conferences across the world in Shanghai, Paris, New York, and London in past years. The objective of this year’s conference, in collaboration with CNNMoney Switzerland and Facebook, was to give luxury brands a cross-industry perspective on the customer experience by bringing together speakers and guests who might not otherwise cross paths. First-time Switzerland panel speakers from Facebook, Moncler, BMW, and Piaget, in addition to DLG, offered in-depth discussions on how luxury brands can streamline their efforts to help develop seamless omni-channel journeys.
Below you’ll find key analysis and solutions to help address the core challenges faced by our industry today, provided by some of the most innovative and successful strategists in the business.
Morin Oluwole, Global Head of Luxury at Facebook and Instagram, discussed how technology now enables all brands and marketers to strengthen many aspects of the consumer relationship and potential clients, including their purchase journey.
“At Facebook, we have 2.3 billion people that use the platform every single day. Of course, the consumers that are most important for you are luxury consumers, those people who are passionate about your brands,” Oluwole explained. “The way we think about this perception is the four Cs: curation, community, conversation and commerce.”
By using these four elements, luxury brands can implement communication strategies which engage customers in innovative and interactive ways, ultimately driving more conversion.
“We live in a world where we are all constantly on our phones. Fashion and Luxury are very strong passion points and we estimate that this engaged community connects on Instagram more than 30 times a day. It’s important in this world of almost heavy data-overload to really think about the point of view that you express and make sure that curation helps the consumer understand what is the objective of your brand,” Oluwole said. “People want more curated and tailored experiences.”
Oluwole emphasized the importance of developing meaningful relationships with different consumers, citing that 70 percent of luxury clients each year are new clients.
“There is continuous work that needs to be done to make sure people know about your brand, and also to create brand awareness over time,” she explained.
As one of the first members of the Facebook team, Oluwole also shared insights on the huge influence which digital has on luxury consumers. For over 50 percent of new clients, the very first touch-point, or first communication with the brand, starts with digital.
“I think the most important fact is, when we look at online and physical purchases, online is growing and it’s growing at a pace that is not compromising the purchases that consumers are making in store, it’s actually adding to your overall business objectives,” Oluwole said.
In addition to luxury consumers shopping online, luxury brands also look at just how consumers navigate. In 2018, 61 percent of online purchases were made through mobile, versus desktop.
“Globally, especially thanks to platforms like Facebook and Instagram, it has really evolved and there is a need to build these relationships,” Oluwole said.
As for what Facebook and Instagram are cooking up for the future? Oluwole says the platforms are continuing to work on more seamless experiences for the luxury customer, including search content, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and integrating secure and direct check-out.
Roberto Eggs, Moncler Chief Marketing & Operating Officer, discussed the latest developments for Moncler’s "Genius" strategy, a shift toward digital advertising, and coordination as a key ingredient for success.
Eggs helped Moncler establish itself as a much-desired brand via internal digital transformation at all levels of the company and a shift from regular fashion to “always on” fashion. With Moncler’s “Genius” strategy, launched in 2018, consumers saw the overhaul of slow fashion jolted into monthly collaborations to feed the growing obsession with all things “new.”
Eggs dove into the brand history, explaining how the French-founded ski-wear company was able to impressively jump to one of the most successful names in luxury.
“For 10 years, we were happy with the results of the company, but we really started sensing that the consumer was changing, especially linked to the emergence of digital and social media. What was the best way to make this evolution?” Eggs said.
Key Strategies in the Moncler Transformation
“The first big move that we did was really to work on the retail base. We started working with all the store managers and key leaders to redesign the consumer experience based on client priorities,” Eggs explained.
After starting with the physical spaces and building brand values and growth within the corporate ladder, Moncler began to look at the overall omni-channel strategy for the brand.
“We try to look at all the touch-points that the client has, linking it to sales and forming one comprehensive view of the consumer,” Eggs said.
In order to do this, Moncler implemented strategies that create a network to connect all touch-points. If a client looks at a new collection or specific pieces online, they can then go to a physical store with a sales associate already having an idea of what they are looking for. Allowing customers to order from anywhere, and having a consistent retail experience- regardless of where, has been key to winning over Moncler customers.
After strengthening the brand core values throughout the years, Moncler eventually moved to perhaps its most innovative project yet: Genius.
“We thought about a different approach. Moncler has been doing collaborations since 2003, but most people had never heard of it. I thought we could use this concept of collaboration to create more content and to be able to say something different to the consumer,” Eggs said. “The concept is based on digitalisation, it’s now 12 collections, one per month. It’s not fast-fashion, each capsule is a real capsule.”
Working with a curated, diverse selection of artists and designers has enabled Moncler to reach different segments of consumers, all while maintaining its brand integrity.
After a quick espresso break and some mingling, CNNMoney Switzerland Anchor Ana Maria Montero monitored an all-star panel of our guest speakers, with the warm welcomed additions of Piaget Chief Digital Officer Julie Thompson and DLG CEO & Founder David Sadigh.
Together, the five industry leaders discussed the most important channels to touch consumers, the consumer journey, and the current climate of luxury culture.
Thompson opened up the panel discussion by discussing the challenges brands face today to cater to different clients, and the fact that there is no one “luxury consumer.”
“Our clients are spread across many geographies, many in China, but also in the Middle East, Europe, Korea and Japan. We are talking about a huge scope of different clients,” Thompson said. “Meaning that to cater to different clients, you need different variants in the consumer journey. There is not one consumer journey, but many variants.”
Whether it be Facebook, Moncler, Piaget, or DLG, all of the panel agreed that a huge part of raising awareness and reaching clients, particularly new clients, includes optimizing social media channels and incorporating technology in a way that enhances the customer relationship.
“Social is where our audience is, and this is where we need to be in terms of the conversation,” Thompson added. “We’ve seen a huge increase in our online business in the last few years, but it’s still not the majority of where we have our sales. Conversion is more about generating leads to our brick-and-mortars.”
Another highlight of the panel was the importance of taking risks, but also knowing where not to go and what not to do. As important as innovation and creation are in the customer experience, focusing on the right priorities carries equal weight.
“Things are changing extremely fast everywhere,” LSK Host and DLG CEO Sadigh says. “Luxury brands really need to find the line between strategy and culture and how to find the essence so that these two are aligned.”
Benjamin Dubuc, Head of Search & Performance Media at DLG, shared insights on how beauty industry customers search online and what they expect from their digital experience.
“Do you remember what your last search was?” Dubuc asked.
Keynote attendees scrunched their foreheads as most looked unsure of the answer. In today’s digital age, we have an overload of information. Most of us use search on a daily basis, multiple times a day. While this may seem insignificant for users, the wealth of behavioural information available can be extremely useful for luxury brands and marketers.
“By tapping into these search insights, we can learn a lot about our consumers,” Dubuc said.
DLG’s latest research looked at 28 beauty brands with skincare as their main product by analysing Google searches in English globally, finding the leading channel in which those searches were performed was mobile, accounting for 77 percent of total skincare searches in 2019, up 26 percent three years ago.
“We also used specific keyword searches to see what we can learn from users, and we can also do that across all industries, from watches to jewelry to the automotive industry,” Dubuc said.
Top Steps to Lead with Empathy
“Consumers today are more curious, demanding, and impatient than ever before,” Dubuc explained.
With 77 percent of skincare searches performed on mobile in 2019, brands need to be more attentive to what customers want, including brands fulfilling their intent and allowing customers to find the right product.
Search has transformed the way customers buy and the way they consumer information, Dubuc says. As marketers, this should change the way we talk to consumers. Overall, search interest for skincare brands is growing. Over the past three years, skincare search volumes which demonstrates customer intent (from awareness and research, to e-commerce or physical purchase) have grown by 51 percent over the past three years.
Established brands like Neutrogena, SkinCeuticals, La Roche-Posay and La Mer are keeping pace with the younger upstarts in the market. Neutrogena and SkinCeuticals search volumes grew by 117 percent and 116 percent respectively, La Roche-Posay climbed by 106 percent and La Mer rose by 89 percent, demonstrating the opportunity for more traditional skincare brands to keep building momentum within the fast-changing beauty market.
“It has never been easier as a brand to reach clients, but it also has never been harder to please them,” Dubuc notes.
The brands that are winning today are not those who are focusing on competition, but rather those that encompass a customer-centric, community-based, digital-first strategy.
Tobias Weber, BMW Head of Brand & Entertainment Cooperations and KOL Relations, gave attendees a comprehensive look on just how BMW has managed to speak to its diverse audience over the years.
"The one question that you might have is ‘how do we make sure that this is all connected? What is our secret ingredient to make this all happen?” Weber opened with. "Everything is based on ‘sheer driving pleasure.’ This is not only what differentiates us from the competition, but is also what every single one of our products is about. So if it’s about driving and enjoying yourself, I would say BMW is the ultimate and I think this claim pulls it all together and is the basis of all that you see.”
Finding the right partnerships has been a key component in speaking to BMW’s diverse array of customers.
“It’s not only about coming up with products that are joyful, but also about communication and about being spontaneous and not too staged,” Weber said. “One thing that’s really important for us right now is reaching out to younger target groups as well. We have to make sure that we still stay in touch with the customers of the future.”
Throughout recent years, BMW’s campaign strategy has placed a heavy emphasis on partnerships, some more unlikely than others. These include:
“I think taking risks is an essential part of the company, and I think we’ve proven that it’s worth it,” Weber said.
All LSK 2020 images courtesy DLG.