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Wednesday, 24 January 2018 00:00

Luxury’s New Blueprint for Global Success

Uniting analytics with shopper psychology to drive global success for luxury brands.

The Pathway to Luxury

With the holiday shopping season unofficially kicking off this Black Friday, the question of what it takes for a brand to thrive in the luxury space amid a continuously evolving retail landscape pops in our minds. What does it truly take to be considered a luxury brand?

BAVShopper® studies luxury and premium brands across ten categories in 17 countries using Y&R’s BrandAsset™ Valuator, a proprietary research and insights tool, and the world’s largest study of brands. Through analysis, we were able to identify five distinct routes that brands can take to establish a “luxury” positioning for this holiday season and beyond:

Status: Luxury brands with a sense of strong heritage have long succeeded in the high-end space. Brands that combine their heritage with perceptions of glamour, style, and originality are deemed iconic.

Craftsmanship: Craftsmanship represents a luxury brand’s quality, tradition, and pricing power. A well-made product helps a brand stay relevant, but a luxury brand that incorporates all the elements of Craftsmanship in its DNA differentiates itself from close competitors.

Cutting Edge: Global luxury brands that create exciting experiences for consumers convey a sense of dynamism and innovation. These brands tend to be category trendsetters, resonating among early adopters and forward-thinking consumers.

Hospitality: Exceptional customer service is an industry expectation, so brands that go beyond service stand out from other brands. However, due to evolving customer expectations, Hospitality also means a straightforward and simple experience. Luxury consumers still want to be indulged, but they want their needs fulfilled as quickly and directly as possible.

Integrity: In an industry often defined as frivolous and unsustainable, luxury brands that act ethically are perceived as different. This differentiation increases associations with trust and authenticity and gives luxury brands higher levels of respect and customer loyalty.

Brands That Own the Luxury Space

Luxury brands currently rely heavily on Status and Craftsmanship for much of their success. But in order to reenergize their reputations among shoppers, luxury brands can develop their performance on Cutting Edge, Hospitality, and Integrity. When we take a look at the brands that already go above and beyond within these sectors, the reasons for investing in these pathways becomes clearer. These three brands epitomize the best of their sectors and exercise tremendous cultural relevance, helping them to thrive despite retail’s changing landscape:

Cutting Edge: Tesla, with its focus on daring, cutting-edge innovation, has created a singular and desirable brand experience that positions it well above other automotive brands.

Hospitality: Luxury e-commerce site Net-a-Porter provides superior hospitality through its innovative and highly-attentive delivery methods, such as its try-on-and-wait service.

Integrity: Beauty brand Shiseido has been recognized repeatedly as one of the world’s most ethical brands for its social contributions supporting women and the environment, its corporate governance, and its established corporate ethics.

Luxury brands have a huge opportunity to engage with shoppers who are inclined to spend more on those special splurge gifts this holiday season. However, luxury brands cannot rely solely on their reputations to draw the crowds in. Ultimately, the luxury brands that maintain their status and quality while investing in underleveraged industry pathways will be best equipped to appeal to shoppers across various markets during the giving season, and for seasons to come.

 

Written by Divya Munjal, Dami Rosanwo, and Jenny Yip at Y&R

How the luxury industry will balance the traditional world of exclusivity with the digital world that is available to everyone.

The digital age poses challenges for all brands in every sector, and yet for the luxury market the conundrum is a particularly tricky one.

For a long time conventional wisdom was that the luxury goods sector was largely impervious to the ups and down of the economy. Recent results suggest this is no longer true, with 29% of luxury retailers reporting a decline in sales earlier this year. Digital would appear to be a huge opportunity, making luxury goods accessible to everyone.

And yet one of the traditional appeals of the luxury market has been its perceived ‘exclusivity’, with the very fact it is ‘hard to reach’ making it so much more satisfying when you do attain it. So how to balance the tension between this traditional world of exclusivity and the online world available to everyone?

This is the question for luxury brands. Embrace the ultimate democratisation and risk demystifying the category, or hold on to your ‘cloak of mystery’ and lose relevance by failing to keep up with the times?

Experience so far suggests that brands which have embraced digital are reaping the rewards, so maybe the two aren’t incompatible after all. There has been a wholesale shift in people’s expectations of customer service in the digital era. Amazon, for example, speeded up delivery times by using big data analysis to predict what its customers will order next, shipping products to nearby delivery centres before they have even ordered them.

The luxury sector can be no more immune to such trends than anyone else. Luxury brands are embracing the online world to improve both consumer journey and brand experience, with almost 6 out of 10 luxury sales said to be ‘digitally influenced’.

From boutique appeal to everything online

Luxury shopping has become more effortless and easy for consumers in the era of e-commerce and more integrated customer experiences. Here are three examples of how the luxury and online world have connected seamlessly to open up new and exciting opportunities.

LVMH

A world leader in luxury goods, LVMH launched 24 Sèvres, a global e-commerce platform and mobile application opening the doors of the world’s first department store, Le Bon Marché in Paris, online in more than 70 countries worldwide. 24 Sèvres prides itself on the ultimate customer service – fast shipping, easy returns, 24 hour availability with bespoke add-ons including a personal shopper service.

Net A Porter

Net A Porter showed how luxury services be used to their maximum effect online with its ‘extremely important people’ programme offering a bespoke shopping service to its biggest spending customers. It includes priority shopping, front seat tickets for fashion shows, exclusive events and previews and a buying team on the lookout for items just for you. Online shopping will always be at its heart an egalitarian experience but luxury online retailers are increasingly going the extra mile to meet the expectations of their biggest spenders.

Farfetch

The online fashion retail platform sells products from more than 500 boutiques and 1,500 designers around the world. Unlike Net A Porter it doesn’t hold any stock, it provides the means to connect, peruse and buy from the latest brands and boutiques from around the world. Conde Nast was an early investor and it recently raised more than £300m for expansion, the majority in China, one of the fastest growing luxury markets.

Exchanging brand sacralization for brand experience

Experience-seeking millennials are changing the rules of the game in the luxury market. Luxury brands have come to realise that they need to find a way of removing the ‘cloak of mystery’ without sacrificing any of their brand appeal. In other words, they have accepted their brands and products need to be ‘desacralised’. You can do this in any number of ways.

Some of them, like luxury jeweller Fred, is using its Parisian stores to enable customers to personalise one of their iconic wristbands, Force 10, in 450 million different ways. Others, like Hermes, provide advice and exclusive content to its Hermes Career range through its Silk Knot mobile app, which now has around 50,000 downloads.

To stand out in a myriad of content, luxury brands have to go beyond storytelling to create involvement and a compelling consumer experience in which the customer takes charge.

From the ‘happy few’ to a global community, making luxury available to all

If they are to remain relevant in the digital age then luxury brands can no longer speak to the ‘happy few’. A growing number of big players understand they should better engage a broader community on social media, to make their brand more accessible and vivid in the eyes of consumers. That is also the case with Kenzo, which has developed a playful theme in its Instagram content to make it more approachable and inclusive for consumers. By taking the brand off its pedestal for a moment, it creates a horizontal platform for customer interaction.

But the challenge remains: how can luxury remain different from all other categories while using the same tools?

 

Written by Laura Hurst, Associate Director Brand at Kantar Added Value

Saturday, 20 January 2018 00:00

Sairee Chahal Founder, CEO – SHEROES

We are a women-first enterprise, and our aim is to build products that create sustainable value for women. Trust, empathy, safety - these are all at the core of what we do, and to be more effective, we partner with businesses with women-first strategies.” Explained Sairee Chahal Founder, CEO – SHEROES (the women’s community platform)

In an interview with MediAvataar India, Sairee took us through the amazing journey she has had with women empowerment over a span of her wonderful and benevolent career. Here is the complete Q&A....

MediAvataar: Today more and more women are becoming financially independent and have an elevated decision making, in your opinion how is it influencing brand strategies around the globe, especially in India?

Sairee: I believe this shift is already influencing the global gender narrative in the way we design and market products for women. Even in how businesses view women employees. For instance, I see finance companies rethinking the way they engage with women consumers, also pushing for diversity in their boardrooms. I see legacy lifestyle brands echoing values that can support women’s growth, making products accessible, body-positive, inclusive. It’s a slow shift, but it's definitely happening.

MediAvataar: Tell us more about SHEROES, and what made you connect with it?

Sairee: SHEROES is a women’s platform, and SHEROES communities are safe, high trust, high empathy spaces where women talk about a range of things - from health and careers, to relationships, parenting and travel. Having started our journey in 2013, today, we are a 2 million-strong community, and growing rapidly, via our online platforms and offline summits, community meets and foundation initiatives.

MediAvataar: There were a few transitions to the platform since its inception what made you reach the decision and how do you keep this machine well oiled?

Sairee: We started off as Fleximoms, a platform to support women on career breaks looking to return to work. At the time we engaged extensively with businesses to influence mindsets and help workplaces transition to being more relevant to women. However, as we engaged with more women, the underlying message was that women across profiles and geographies, needed support - not just in crafting career journeys via opportunities and mentorship, but more importantly, through continued engagement around other core pillars like health, parenting and relationships, to name a few. Scaling this engagement is of course always a challenge. So, we launched online communities in 2016, and in 2017, we launched the SHEROES app, a women-only space. Our focus is now to build more lifetime value for our community members by investing in our communities, both in terms of relevance and depth.

MediAvataar: What is your core value system for SHEROES?

Sairee: We are a women-first enterprise, and our aim is to build products that create sustainable value for women. Trust, empathy, safety - these are all at the core of what we do, and to be more effective, we partner with businesses with women-first strategies. For instance, we partnered with a tech business looking to invite women in tech back to work post a career break, a mobility business to talk about the link between women’s safety and aspirations, a training company looking to attract more women into analytics, and an urban creche network to talk about the impact of onsite daycare centres for professional women. At the end of the day, it is always a win-win for SHEROES as a brand, our primary customer - women, and the businesses, we partner with.

MediAvataar: Despite the data not backing your decision to launch a women-only app, what made you take this risk?

Sairee: Our gut told us that just like workplaces in the industrial era, most apps are primarily built for a male-dominated audience - the language, the orientation, the journey. Yes, we do have some women-based apps, however, they tend to focus on specifics aspects - menstrual cycles, fitness, or fashion. There is nothing holistic in the market built to support women in their growth journeys. The SHEROES app is designed for a women audience, and the women on the platform respond to that. The engagement tools are designed to tap into women’s aspirations. For instance, we host regular AMAs with experts around important aspects like financial health, health-based conversations and travel. At the dawn of the New Year we challenged women to share their dreams for 2018 - and the responses were bold, and deeply aspirational, which only deepens are resolve to keep pushing the boundaries of what a “product for women”, can encompass.

MediAvataar: How has been the response to the app so far?

Sairee: We launched in 2017, and have clocked over 1,30,000 downloads, and counting. Women log in everyday to see what is buzzing in the communities, like you would on say, Facebook or Instagram. The app also has some unique features - for instance, we have a dedicated helpline where women can speak to our counsellors about anything - the questions are extremely diverse, and often, they are not questions, but conversations. On the app store a reviewer described the app as a “friend, guide, doctor, sibling, parent”. That says a lot.

MediAvataar: As per the real time data that you gather through the app what is the support the women seek/need from the private and public sector?

Sairee: One, we have thousands of women posting their real live experiences around getting back to the workplace after a career break - the judgement they face, and how their skills and experiences are completely discounted, after they have taken time off to be caregivers. If more businesses introduce creche services, maternity and paternity leave, and flexibility at work, women’s careers will be disrupted less, and we shall see more women in boardrooms. Two, safety is a top concern for women across the board - in homes, in offices and on the street. We have had women share instances of domestic abuse and workplace harassment. Safety is a collective responsibility and must be on the top-most agenda for businesses, as well as our public services. Three, our healthcare systems are mired in gender biases, and a very skewed understanding of women’s medical and health needs. There is an urgent need for upgrades both in terms of mindsets as well as the overall approach to healthcare. In a nutshell, this real-time data is absolutely fascinating, and will tell you so much about women’s progress (or what’s lacking in it) in India.

MediAvataar: Tell us more about your recent acquisition.

Sairee: SHEROES recently acquired mom’s app Babygogo, which was founded in 2014 by three young entrepreneurs - Siddhartha, Sowrabh and Satyadeep, to help parents leverage technology to address everyday child healthcare. Being the best-in-class among a sea of parenting apps, Babygogo aligns perfectly with the SHEROES vision in terms of crafting a high empathy, high trust space where mothers can discuss a range of things, while also seeking expert advice and simultaneously, leveraging the real-time collective wisdom of its growing community. Besides domain depth, Babygogo brings with it a strong tech foundation, and we are extremely thrilled to welcome them into the SHEROES fold.

MediAvataar: What is SHE and what made you launch that?

Sairee: SHE is our compliance and prevention of sexual harassment product in 2017, which interestingly, we launched before the #MeToo campaign. Our conversations and engagement with women since the start, convinced us that the approach towards curbing sexual harassment needed a much more nuanced approach - businesses by their very nature had to focus on becoming safe spaces - not just on office premises; the framework must include work-from-home employees, offsites, and online communication, to name a few. Such a transformation can never happen through one-off trainings but over a period of time, through continued interventions via trainings, conversations, debates and discussions. Such interventions are as important as addressing cases that crop up, fairly and swiftly. The larger vision is to nurture safe spaces, and healthy work cultures, and this can only be brought out through more focus on diversity at work.

MediAvataar: What is your future vision for the platform?

Sairee: In the next five years, SHEROES aims to put 100 million women on the growth road map, and to meet our goals we are strengthening our communities, building solid relationships with partners, and evangelising ideas around what constitutes women’s growth.

New data from Facebook shows that more than ten million people worldwide used its Live video function to celebrate New Year's Eve digitally with others.

The number of people across the globe using Facebook Live on New Year's Eve grew by 47 per cent in comparison to the same date 12 months earlier to reach more than ten million, new figures from Facebook reveal.

Three times as many people used the live video feature on December 31st than on any other day that month, with Las Vegas named as the location with the highest overall number of Facebook Live broadcasts on NYE.

Data also shows that the 'wow' emoji reaction was the most used on the night, demonstrating that people were using the function to celebrate the new year together digitally with friends and family around the world.

In a blog post accompanying the data, Facebook explained: "With Facebook Live, people can still be in the same moment, even if they aren't in the same place."

With this feature becoming so much more popular over the past year, it presents an exciting opportunity to brands wanting to extend the reach of their marketing strategies, with the insights provided by the reaction buttons enabling them to see what works best with their audience.

Monday, 15 January 2018 00:00

Accenture Acquires Mackevision

Accenture has entered into an agreement to acquire Germany-based Mackevision, a leading global producer of 3D-enabled and immersive product content.

The acquisition will add state-of-the-art visualization capabilities to Accenture Interactive’s digital services portfolio – strengthening its ability to create compelling, next-generation customer experiences and industrial, extended reality applications. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions. Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.

Mackevision’s creation, visualization and production services are used for online product configurators, digital and print catalogues, virtual showrooms, point-of-sale kiosks, augmented and virtual reality experiences, as well as broadcast video and feature films. Mackevision has developed a differentiated ability to leverage engineering data to construct ‘digital twins’ of complex physical products. By applying the latest techniques in CGI, visual effects and AR/VR, Mackevision can generate nearly any type of visual content from these twins – effectively turning engineering data into truly immersive product experiences and virtual applications. This highly-specialized approach has the potential to transform product design as well as fuel the next generation of consumer experiences.

The ability to create digital imagery of the highest quality based on ‘digital twins’ is key to Accenture’s vision of delivering a broader set of services around smart, connected products, platforms and business models to a wide range of industries, including automotive, industrial equipment, consumer goods and retail.

Founded in 1994, Mackevision has a team of more than 500 employees and is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, with offices in Munich and Hamburg as well as in the United States, United Kingdom, China, South Korea and Japan.

Mackevision has earned international acclaim for its work on the HBO Series “Game of Thrones” – for which it was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Visual Effects. The company’s high-end creative and visual effects capability is especially relevant in the growing field of extended reality, where life-like models and environments are considered critical to creating fully-immersive experiences.

“This is truly a one-of-a-kind opportunity for us,” said Jamie Posnanski, global content practice lead, Accenture Interactive. “Mackevision has a deep roster of highly-relevant creative and technical talent in emergent capabilities, and operates with mature offerings on a global scale. It’s rare to find this combination in the market. We are highly impressed by the quality of the work, innovation, leadership, culture and, of course, talent on the Mackevision team, and we are excited for what our combined capabilities can mean for clients.”

“Mackevision’s capabilities will add a whole new dimension of content innovation to our portfolio of services,” added Brian Whipple, head of Accenture Interactive. “The ‘digital twin’ concept has massive implications not only from a scaled media production and marketing standpoint, but also for our broader vision of helping clients render the most compelling experiences possible.”

With clients including Audi, BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Mackevision has achieved its most notable success in the automotive industry – where CGI-based and ‘digital twin’ visualization has experienced some of the earliest adoption.

“Mackevision is delighted to become part of the Accenture family,” said Mackevision CEO Armin Pohl. “With our more than 20 years’ experience in 3D visualization, our visionary technology and our efficient Single-Source Publishing (SSP) approach, we create relevant, inspiring product and brand experiences with lasting impact. We have moved from being a content provider to providing relevant end-to-end solutions for our clients, and we’re looking forward to collaborating on creating meaningful client experiences on a global scale under Accenture Interactive.”

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