With the luxury ecommerce market set to reach $41.8 billion by 2019, navigating the online space is becoming increasingly crucial for high-end retailers. Whereas luxury brands have traditionally set themselves apart by creating an exclusive in-store experience, the significant shift to online over recent years has brought with it a new set of customer expectations. Luxury vendors now face the challenge of redefining their approach in order to stay relevant and ensure they continue to reach their target audience.
Traditionally, luxury retail has thrived on brand loyalty; customers in the market for a high-end product would typically have a brand in mind and go directly to that particular store to make their purchase. A sale would be dependent not on price factors or product specs, but rather on a first-class in-store customer experience. However, the internet has made it easier than ever to run comprehensive product, price and vendor comparisons, meaning that today’s shoppers are not only extremely well-informed, but accustomed to choice.
As highlighted by this Technavio report regarding the end of last year, this has led to a notable shift in luxury consumer patterns; high-end shoppers in the online sphere strongly favor a multi-brand environment over single-brand sites. Convenience is now a pivotal factor, and one that online marketplaces are evidently fulfilling more successfully than their uni-brand counterparts. Chrono24, for example, serves as a one-stop-shop for luxury watches, offering competitive pricing, convenient delivery and extensive brand diversity. A quick look at their range here – from Rolex to Cartier to Omega – shows that they are effectively eliminating the need to shop around for these brands individually.
Singular luxury brands therefore face the challenge of building the same brand loyalty online as has previously been so influential in traditional high-end retail. In addition to catching up with online marketplaces in terms of convenience (such as quick and easy ordering and delivery), recreating that exclusive, single-brand experience needs to be a major focus. To this end, some of the most powerful marketing campaigns run by leading luxury brands make use of unique content to convey exclusivity and drive customer engagement.
An impressive example of customer engagement is Christian Louboutin’s murder mystery film which was teased on social media and led consumers back to its website. This was an incredibly exciting and perfectly timed campaign that coincided with the launch of the new spring collection. This also serves to highlight the growing role of video as a powerful content tool, especially in the world of ecommerce. By making use of YouTube’s shoppable ads function, which lets users shop items directly from the video content, Louboutin used video not only to gain traffic but also to drive conversions.
Relying on a long-established brand name is no longer enough for luxury retailers. As ecommerce continues to dominate, high-end brands need to adopt a twofold strategy, providing consumers with the convenience to which they have become accustomed whilst recreating that unique brand experience by means of original and innovative content across multiple channels.