It's always better to learn from others' mistakes and then wow the population with something bigger and better. Here are nine luxury trends, which have kept the industry busy this year, and which we think should be keenly observed by global luxury players.
By: Karishma Parkash
Posted on: December 10, 2010
It’s always better to learn from others’ mistakes and then wow the population with something bigger and better. Here are nine luxury trends, which have kept the industry busy this year, and which we think should be keenly observed by all global luxury players.
Big, Bigger, Biggest
The world’s biggest country is also the world’s fastest growing luxury market. Almost all brands are trying to take advantage of China’s rapid expansion. French luxury goods brand Hermes is no exception. Since geography and local culture is an important factor in driving sales, it is essential to understand the preferences of regional consumers. This spring, Hermes launched a new brand, called Shang Xia, especially for the lucrative Chinese market. Their idea was to create a brand from ground up that shared the Hermes brand philosophy - outstanding quality, creativity, and strong style, and also catered to the sensibilities of the ever-demanding Chinese luxury consumer.
The store strives to be a mix of old world craftsmanship with modern style, and sells everything from hand-sewn cashmere sweaters to fine china dinnerware. The products are made from traditional Asian materials such as bamboo, cashmere and porcelain.
Brands must now start categorizing their market at a more micro level. There are times when mass customization will work, and also, times when it won’t.
Need for green speed
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) will build its first hybrid supercar as part of a broader effort to create more fuel- efficient vehicles and underline its technological prowess. The Vision Efficient Dynamics model, which accelerates to 100 kms per hour (62 miles) in 4.8 seconds while emitting 99 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer, will go on sale in 2013. It is being developed in Munich and will form a key part of BMW’s strategy to increase its sales from 1.4 million units this year to 2 million in 2020. The new sports car is powered by a three-cylinder diesel engine and two electric motors. Originally introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2009, BMW is still hush about the car’s pricing. With the rapid depletion of the ozone layer and increased global warming, it’s time car makers started caring about the planet. Way to go BMW!
Fast Fashion with a right dose of Luxury
H&M has been slowly and steadily making its presence in both the worlds: mass fashion and luxury. Its huge number of stores and successful designer collaborations are proof of that. Not that H&M wasn’t popular before, but with names like Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Roberto Cavalli, Kylie Minogue, Jimmy Choo and finally Lanvin in 2010, it’s a treat you just can’t say NO to!
The most anticipated Lanvin for H&M winter collection proved to be another successful partnership with a luxurious brand. The collection is elaborate, funky and filled with bright colours. Designed by Artistic Director, Alber Elbaz of Lanvin, the clothes have a unique customized haute couture look.
The concept of designer collaborations for chain stores is an exhausted one, but not completely dead. Mix, match, share and invent - H&M did that and tasted success. Will other mass fashion brands take a cue from this Swedish brand?
The affluent are looking for ways to flaunt their style and are no longer satisfied with mundane and normal objects. They crave for something new to adopt and add to their pride, so why not give them something classy and stylish? Gucci and Riva have done just that. Gucci and Riva launched the exclusive made to order ‘Aquariva by Gucci’, a model customized by Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini. Gucci and Riva have tested the waters with something stylishly innovative with a well-thought of collaboration. Deep breath, anyone?
The Commercial World Wide Web
The growing use of Internet has fueled the tremendous growth of ecommerce across the globe. Buy, sell and deliver - all with a few clicks on the internet. Realizing the true potential of the medium, early bird Ralph Lauren celebrated the 10th anniversary of its ecommerce website this year in a style that has got the techno geeks nodding their heads. Through the use of advanced video mapping technology, Ralph Lauren had a 4D show at their shops in Madison Avenue in New York and Bond Street in London. This global event marked a first for the fashion world and further reinforced the brand’s dedication to innovation by seamlessly combining art, fashion, music and fragrance into a modern 4D moment that has never been seen before.
Growing from the United States to the UK, Ralph Lauren plans to expand future web stores specific to other countries in the years to come. While one brand raises a toast to technology and innovation, other brands are still learning to spell the word ‘internet’. Luxury brands must realize that they have consumers scattered all over the globe. If not a brick and mortar store in these countries, a significant e-commerce site will keep the brand as well as the consumers happy.
India all the way
Indian culture and food have always been popular among westerners. But who thought that our tradition would be shared? Who could have guessed that French luxury house Louis Vuitton would pay tribute to the Indian festival Diwali? November 2010 saw artist Rajeev Sethi’s creativity on Vuitton’s window displays greeting passersby and furthering the Indian festive spirit. The store windows showcased trunks especially crafted and hand-painted in India on banana fiber paper which shimmered like lanterns. From Paris to Shanghai and Delhi to Dubai, all LV store windows (about 454 of them!) were dressed to impress. This was the first time that an international luxury brand has celebrated an Indian festival with such pomp and splendour. Cheers to celebrating India internationally! Who’s next?
Pick up the phone
Leaving technology behind in this era of electronics would be a complete disaster. Technology has come a long way in the past few years and add to that a luxury quotient – you got yourself a winner! Introducing a new way for the affluent to taste luxury, some high-end fashion brands have delved into the mobile phone business. Beneficial or not, only time will tell. Check out the Versace Unique which claims to be the first full-featured multimedia touch-screen phone in luxury mobile technology. With fine craftsmanship, Versace Unique features an audacious mix of materials and design.
French brand Christian Dior also has its own gizmo. The Dior phone offers all the regular features but with a new gimmick: a miniature phone barely bigger than a USB key. Before this, even Prada had launched a sleek phone which had taken the luxury goods market by storm. Armani and Samsung also launched a phone called the Samsung Giorgio Armani phone. Don’t forget to check out watchmaker Tag Heuer’s Meridiist.
It’s a strategic marriage between fashion and technology. Anyone coming up next with a high-end gadget?
If not in the forefront pulling the strings, India is an important luxury market. Brands should take a leaf out of Judith Leiber’s successful activities in tapping into smaller cities and popularizing the brand with undiscovered fashionistas . “Ludhiana is a discerning market with taste for the best,” said Sangeeta Assomull, CEO, Marigold Group. Keeping this in mind, they showcased the latest Fall collection of Judith Leiber at a trunk show in Ludhiana this October.
French brand L'Occitane also plans to expand its customer base and set up stores in Pune and Ludhiana in the coming years. For a brand with about 1,500 stores in 90 countries, they sure don’t need to go around tapping smaller markets, but they are. As a part of their second wave of India strategy, BMW India has opened OSL Prestige, its new dealership facility in Bhubaneswar, with a fully equipped workshop comprising three service bays that can service up to 10 cars per day.”
Lesson to be learnt? Big things come in small, but fancy packages!
Not only does India have a large luxury consumer base, but it is a prospective destination to start manufacturing and producing luxury goods as well. Motorcycle giant Harley Davidson realized that well in time. Harley-Davidson is launching operations in India to assemble motorcycles for the Indian market from component kits supplied by its U.S. plants. The company expects the CKD (complete knock-down) assembly facility to be operational in the first half of 2011. “It is important for us to continue to invest in strategies that make our products and experiences accessible to an increasingly broader set of customers across India,” said Anoop Prakash, Managing Director, Harley-Davidson India. This investment will allow Harley-Davidson to improve there market responsiveness and production flexibility, and make the bikes more accessible to Indian consumers. It’s surely a good strategy to increase your market base and offer them competitive pricing.
So for all the big brands out there, take out your notebooks and start jotting. No, we don’t advise you to blindly copy these strategies. There is no set formula for every brand. But these are some examples of what can be done to increase your market base and boost your popularity.