As the end of the year approaches, the fashion, luxury and beauty industry is continuing to navigate the challenges accelerated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, exploring and adapting new strategies to engage with consumers in the midst of a fast-changing environment.
For many, next year will be critical. Digital marketing spend in 2021 is expected to reach $120 billion according to an estimate by Launchmetrics- the leading brand performance cloud for fashion, luxury and beauty - and understanding how to measure, understand and evolve digital strategies to better understand where brands should invest their efforts towards will be key. In November, Launchmetrics held a Digital Performance Summit gathering together leading brands and organisations to discuss the future of brand performance.
Key speakers from brands like Dior, Breitling, Anya Hindmarch and Allbirds engaged in a number of conversations around sustainability, content creation, and how to best leverage online channels as well as British Fashion Council (BFC), Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI), Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM), who joined together to discuss the future of Fashion Weeks.
Here are the key takeaways from the event.
As fashion and luxury continue to tackle the challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the rapid digitisation of the marketplace and changes in consumer demand, brands must work harder and faster to keep up their momentum. “Momentum is the real asset, momentum is the real equity,” said Launchmetrics CEO Michael Jais.
Brands need to adopt technology and intelligence and leverage data to identify opportunities across regions, across channels (online, social, print), and across Voices (media, influencers, celebrities, partners, owned media) to build brand momentum and drive performance.
With consumers more informed and empowered than before, information has become key to succeeding with an increasingly crowded marketplace, particularly within the beauty space. “Brands aren’t the authorities anymore. It’s been democratised. Consumers are looking less at brands. They are looking at social media, influencers, and more importantly at their peers and what their thoughts are,” said Michael Benson, Group Marketing Director at Church & Dwight.
“The biggest disruptor is the evolving of these platforms to really fit with the times of today, like the increased screen time and how brands are making it convenient where consumers can shop directly or through live-selling,” added Rae Giron, Senior Manager, PR & Influencer Marketing of beauty brand Tatcha, suggesting how brands need to experiment new formats to engage with consumers and accelerate sale cycles.
As the world entered lockdown earlier this year and people navigated the ‘new normal’, consumers began looking for useful and informative content online, seeking out sources ranging from traditional media sources to influencers, to keep up to date with COVID related news and social issues to help them adapt to their changing environment.
“Creators wanted to make useful content and there was an emerging sense of community and I’ve seen a lot more purpose with content – it’s inspiring, it’s educational, it’s helping people achieve something, try something,” said Reena Rai, Creator Content Lead at Pinterest.
As brands look towards building influencer strategies, Rachna Shah, Partner and Managing Director of PR & Digital of KCD noted “it’s so important to develop authentic voices and it’s obvious now when a brand is not being conscious, modern, and not understanding the community they cater to or who they are trying to attract.”
With the industry increasingly investing into the Asia region, brands are discovering new opportunities and learning the differences in consumer behaviour. Brands need to consider multiple platforms when engaging an Asian consumer, notes Tina Ting, Marketing Director of Allbirds Asia. “The intent is already there, which is why they are searching your brand – it’s very important for brands to have some information as customers are looking – it’s a crucial lower funnel touchpoint.”
She also believes brands looking to grow and expand within China need to localise and adjust the product and messaging eventually, encouraging brands to work with local agencies or invest in local human resources to navigate the multifaceted Chinese market.
In a rare occurrence, the four leaders of the major fashion weeks and their associated institutions joined together to discuss the future of fashion weeks and how they are aiming to transform the fashion industry’s biggest event.
“It has been a fantastic field for innovation – something that would have taken 10 years has taken one, and there has been this incredible acceleration in order to serve and be helpful. I very much believe in democratisation and diversity,” said Pascal Morand, Executive President of FHCM.
“The interaction at fashion week is so critical. It’s a cultural event and I don’t think we will ever leave those defined dates” added Steven Kolb, CEO, CDFA.
As the industry works towards more inclusivity and diversity, Caroline Rush, CEO of BFC said “As that conversation has evolved, the whole conversation around diversity, inclusivity, to have gender-specific weeks in a way feels quite old-fashioned. The opportunity to have fashion weeks that are open to all genders, and much more inclusive in that respect, feels like the right way to go.” Carlo Capasa of CNMI agreed, adding that “this gave much more democratisation to fashion, in terms of audience but also in terms of brands who could participate, new designers, talent of colour. We are starting a revolution in communication. What we did these last seasons is just the beginning.”
There’s no surprise that luxury consumers have changed and are more willing to spend, and no surprise that luxury brands need to adapt their digital channels to drive sales revenue under the new normal. Discussing these changes in the luxury marketplace, Antonio Carreiro, Chief Digital and Technology Officer of Breitling stressed the importance of omnichannel.
“From a brand perspective I think consistency is really important, it’s not about dropping from one touchpoint to another but staying consistent with messaging and communication,” said Carreiro.
While most of the world is still navigating the impacts of the pandemic and businesses are becoming savvier of the changes within the industry and how to adopt, Alison Bringe, CMO of Launchmetrics shared a keynote on how brands can stand out within the market during this time. “Brands need to invest in brand building and building that emotional connection with their consumer, because that is what will create a lingering impact after the pandemic and build brand performance,” said Bringé.
“For us, being a luxury brand, creativity will always lead and we value the creative aspect first and foremost – we decide on platforms, influencers paid strategy – everything is driven by creativity and innovation,” added Gary Pinagot, Social Media and e-Reputation Director at Dior.
“Today’s luxury buyer buys more than just the clothes, they buy what is behind the brand and what the brand values are,” said Tatiana Dupond, Head of Luxury of Linkedin, proposing that brands need to build a comprehensive content story to communicate its story and deliver the brand’s purpose.
“People on Linkedin are on a mission to understand brands and they always want to go one step further, so have authenticity in the message you say,” Dupond added, noting that brands have been seeing very strong results and engagement through launching on Linkedin Live. “Louis Vuitton did four of their last shows live on Linkedin and they have a whole strategy around it – they reached 3 million unique luxury buyers on Linkedin so it’s a great asset for luxury and fashion brands.”
Sustainability has been a heavily discussed topic within the fashion, luxury, and beauty industry and the pandemic has served as a catalyst and a wake-up call for many. In a discussion between journalist Dana Thomas, Diana Verde Nieto, co-founder of Positive Luxury, fashion accessories designer Anya Hindmarch, and Nicolaj Reffstrup, co-founder of Ganni, the four spoke about how brands can work towards a more sustainable industry.
“Economically, financially – we tried to ensure the products we launched didn’t end up as marketing gimmicks but also that we can implement it in the overall merchandise floor or else otherwise, it won’t have a real impact, it will just be storytelling,” said Reffstrup, proposing brands to ensure that any sustainable collection launches should have a lasting impact and should shift away from a storytelling mindset.
“When we throw something away, there’s no away,” said Hindmarch, reminding us of the environmental impact the fashion, luxury, and beauty industry brings.
For more in-depth insights from the Digital Performance Summit by Launchmetrics, or to access all of the digital sessions, please click here.