What’s the definition of luxury? That’s one of the questions brands are facing as the evolving digital landscape shifts yet again.
From a discussion among luxury brand managers and consultants, at this week’s South By Southwest Interactive Festival, the quick answer was “it depends” on how one brand might define luxury versus another. The long answer, of course, is much more nuanced. Those weighing in included Ambika Samarthya-Howard, group account director of Havas Luxe; Gregory Pouy, CEO, Lamercatique; Judy Bassaly, ex VP, trade marketing at Giorgio Armani, and Thomas Serrano, founder and president of Havas Luxe.
Digital access means customers want instant purchase options, immediate feedback and direct connections with the brands they support. Since luxury brands are built on a foundation of being exclusive, aloof and scarce, this type of direct access through digital channels creates conflict. The “new” customer wants to visit runway shows behind the scenes via Snapchat, purchase the latest handbag via a “buy now” Instagram button, and connect directly with designers with Twitter. So how are these brands, built on limiting distribution and connection, attracting the customers of tomorrow without losing the very cache that makes them luxury?