Despite a recent rocky economy — seized by inflation and supply chain pains — the global luxury retail market has seen a notable sales boost. A Bain & Co. study found 95% of luxury brands experienced growth last year, and the market as a whole is expected to grow by 5% this year.
It turns out shoppers with money are still spending money. That being said, luxury brands and retailers can’t take the momentum for granted. Brands need to invest in stronger, more luxurious digital experiences to meet omnichannel shoppers with an experience that meets their desires.
While the Bain & Co. study noted a lavish brick-and-mortar experience remains the primary goal of luxury brands, it also stressed the importance of targeting omnichannel shoppers. The study said the online and in-store worlds are blurring into a “mono-brand,” and an omnichannel approach needs to be developed, enabled by new technologies.
This omnichannel push puts pressure on luxury brands and retailers to make their online images, videos and digital offerings on par with the in-store environment. Generative AI chatbots and immersive video are tools to enhance digital, and a smooth experience no matter the digital touch point is now mandatory to satisfy luxury shoppers.
After all, a recent study found that 31% of luxury shoppers visit physical stores at least once a month. But for the other two-thirds of shoppers who don’t frequent the store as often, luxury brands must invest in rich digital experiences that will encourage them to increase engagement and eventually lead to conversions.
Empower Marketers to Consider the Digital Experience First
Unfortunately, for many luxury brands it can be difficult to meet these two-thirds of shoppers with luxurious digital experiences, particularly if they are heavily focused on the in-store experience. Companies, for example, may reuse images and messaging from an in-store experience online, but it doesn’t engage in the same way.
Luxury brands need to approach the digital experience by thinking about the total digital experience first. How do they want to reflect a luxurious experience online and build ways to engage consumers beyond recycled content?
Brands should begin by mapping out a digital experiential plan for how consumers will engage across touch points. The marketing team can work with IT to identify and integrate new technologies to deliver the experience in mind. This approach has the luxury brand start by thinking of ways to include 360-degree-spinning videos and generative AI customization and build that experience first. The content then comes second.
Traditionally, brands begin with whatever content they have first — and work from a content management system (CMS) to anchor the digital experience plan. That doesn’t work. Brands that want to evoke a true omnichannel luxury experience need to think experience first.
Put Digital Experience Decisions Directly Into the Marketer’s Hands
Another aspect of empowering luxury brand marketers is to supply them with tools that let them directly make changes to the end experience. Oftentimes, brands are working from technology platforms that have developers pulling all the levers while marketers sit and wait for the experiences to go live.
Marketers that aim to achieve a connected omnichannel experience need more real-time control over the digital output. Luxury brands need to invest in technology that doesn’t leave marketers on the sidelines waiting for developers to greenlight the work.
There are visual workspaces within digital experience platforms that enable marketers to update content and build out experiences online. No coding expertise is required. Marketers create experiences from a visual dashboard.
Ultimately, emerging technology is opening a new way for marketers to work with data and content. Traditionally, developers combine content from multiple sources, managing a lot of copying and pasting content. In a visual-based workspace, marketers visually select content from multiple sources to create something new.
The technology can be like a block of text on that luxury watch’s product detail page, one that enables a marketer to weave in current creative copy with the product name and description from a PIM or CMS and automatically update content on the fly.
How Luxury Brands Can Support the Omnichannel Trend
Luxury retail is more than just a one-time shopping experience — it’s a lifestyle. As a result, not every interaction is designed to create a single conversion. Instead, luxury brands want to ensure ongoing engagement with their loyal consumers.
The best way to do this is through a dynamic omnichannel presence. Luxury brands that find ways to put more power and control into the hands of marketing teams to pull the right levers and drive a more luxurious digital experience will continue the momentum beyond 2023.
Darren Guarnaccia is president of Uniform, a digital experience composition platform (DXCP) on which developers and marketers can control their digital-experience stack. As a leader with deep expertise in blending best-in-class product marketing and product management strategies to overcome business challenges, differentiate products and drive exponential growth, Guarnaccia oversees marketing, product strategy, and enablement at Uniform.