Luxury Lifestyle Travel in the age of digitization

Half a century ago, fashion designer Coco Chanel asserted that fashion transcends products. “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only,” she said. “Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with ideas, with the way we live.” Fashion, she suggested, is part of a lifestyle. Fashion labels and luxury brands have long been interested in portraying themselves as purveyors and curators of a “luxury lifestyle.” Some luxury-apparel brands, for instance, have expanded their product offering to include lifestyle products and service lines such as housewares, furniture, fine dining, hotels, and apartments.

 

But what does lifestyle mean in luxury?

If we look at print media in the past decade, we find the words “luxury” and “lifestyle” appearing together more frequently than ever before. But despite the close association between these two concepts, our research indicates that there is no widely accepted definition of “luxury lifestyle.”

The “right” digital strategy differs for every luxury brand, but the essential elements are the same: a strong mobile presence, a selective approach to social media, and a tight focus on carefully chosen metrics.

 

The pervasive belief was that luxury shoppers, with their discriminating taste and preference for high-priced goods, wouldn’t buy expensive things online; they would always opt for the personalized customer service and tactile shopping experience that monobrand brick-and-mortar stores provide.

Luxury companies are recognizing — and, in some cases, successfully capitalizing on — the increasingly important role that the Internet plays in luxury shoppers’ purchasing decisions. One telling statistic: while overall sales of luxury goods grew by a mere 2 percent in 2013, online luxury sales increased by 20 percent to an estimated €9 billion. This growth will continue; sales of luxury goods online will more than double to approximately €20 billion in the next five years.

 

Today e-commerce represents a scant 4 percent of luxury sales — but e-commerce is only one aspect of the digital opportunity. Statistics convey that additional 40 percent of luxury purchases are in some way influenced by consumers’ digital experience — for example, through online research of an item that is subsequently bought offline, or social-media “buzz” that leads to an in-store purchase.

Digital is having an even greater impact on how luxury shoppers choose brands and goods. Nearly 80 percent of luxury sales today are “digitally influenced”: consumers hit one or more digital touchpoints in their luxury-shopping journeys. Although digital’s impact on consumer behavior and luxury purchases varies by product category and price point, nearly all luxury shoppers have enthusiastically embraced the digital lifestyle — this isn’t just about millennials.

Luxury Lifestyle pattern is another essential element

Digital luxury is increasingly a customer-to-customer (C2C) economy. The consumer is central to the shopping journey, from advocacy to sales. Luxury consumers, highly engaged on social media, are evolving from paying observers of the show into actors on the stage. They are becoming, in effect, another marketing channel. This, in turn, has implications for brands, which must learn how to deal with ambiguity and accept that some aspects of their messaging will be co-created with their customers rather than controlled unilaterally by their management teams.

 

Going mobile, being social

Three out of four luxury shoppers own a smartphone and about half own a tablet, according to our interviews with more than 3,000 luxury customers in six major luxury markets. Not surprisingly, while they’re at work they rely mostly on desktop or laptop computers, but while commuting, dining, or shopping, they’re more likely to use smartphones, especially to search for products and store locations. Indeed, more than half of luxury shoppers’ searches are mobile, and more than one in five of the shoppers in our sample said they often or always do some research on a mobile device before making a luxury purchase.

Digital tools and technologies are revolutionizing the luxury-goods industry, and no luxury brand can afford to ignore them. Online sales — as well as the influence of mobile and social media on offline sales — will continue to grow rapidly, in both developed and emerging markets. The most forward-looking companies are testing digital opportunities across their entire organization, monitoring impact closely, and scaling up effective approaches quickly. All other luxury companies should follow their example or else risk falling far behind.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT?

Online sales of luxury goods could triple to €70 billion by 2025.

 

By: Ioannis Georgiadis – Business Development Executive at Snami Travel Boutique & Luxury Lifestyle Management DMC https://medium.com/@giannisgeorgiadis