Some luxury brands just have no place in the world of smartphones, wearable devices, and IoT. As an example, a traditional handcrafted, mechanical, hand-wound watch looks hopelessly archaic in today’s world, at least from the point of view of functionality. Truly, it is an entire device dedicated to a single function – showing the exact time – and requiring a significant amount of attention to keep working (you have to remember to wind it up regularly). A smartwatch does everything a mechanical watch does, requires less attention, and has a host of other functions.
However, a luxury mechanical watch cannot be viewed from a strictly functional point of view. Or, rather, its main function lies elsewhere – to serve as a symbol of status, affluence, and good taste. And although many representatives of the younger generation, even those who can freely afford such a symbol, eschew it in favor of expensive high-tech gadgets, luxury mechanical watches retain their importance, with sales increasing over the last few years.
However, it doesn’t mean that they fully ignore the changes in the world. The majority of traditional watchmakers like Hamilton Watches see no reason to change their brand image to retain their positions and continue to position themselves as unchanging symbols of style, luxury, and status for serious people amidst the rapidly changing world. However, many of them look for ways to make use of the advantages of the high-tech environment – if it can be done without compromising their high-class image.
Many luxury brands are not just slow to embrace digital innovation but are actively opposed to it out of fear of cheapening their image by allowing people to buy them online, just like common mass-market products. Some brands go as far as refusing to create any meaningful online presence at all because having a website means that their stores aren’t exclusive and open only for the select few anymore. However, as more and more people making luxury purchases are coming from generations of digital natives, they are getting more and more inclined to buy watches and other luxury goods online, just like everything else. This doesn’t mean that luxury stores close up their physical stores – they merely create digital storefronts for more tech-oriented customers.
Use of social media
Social media like Instagram are natural and highly efficient tools for displaying the lifestyle (which is what, in the long run, luxury brands are selling). Images, videos, designs, and interviews can work just as well for creating the image of status and luxury as a physical store.
Personalization of experience
A huge part of what luxury brands are selling is the process of personal interaction between the client and the store. Employees pay individual and concentrated attention to each customer, and the purchase comes as a result of a prolonged and complicated procedure involving the choice between multiple variants and individualized conversations. For a long time, such an approach could only work in physical stores, but recent technological advances allow for a great deal of personalization to be adapted for online use. For example, some manufacturers give their customers an opportunity to use online tools to construct their own individualized products, choosing their preferred combinations of colors, styles, and models.
Online stores can create the image of exclusivity just as well as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. This can be done in a variety of ways, for example, through the creation of exclusive mailing lists for select customers – e.g., those who have spent a certain amount of money with the brand or have been customers for a certain period of time. These lists can contain special offers for highly valued clients, such as invitations to exclusive events, early access to new products, and so on.
While it isn’t widely used at the moment, AR has a big future in the world of luxury brands. One application is individualized 3D product models featuring unique engravings that can be viewed and evaluated both in-store and online. With their help, a client can see exactly how the watch will look on him even before it is made.
As you can see, embracing the digital world doesn’t mean that luxury watch brands cheapen themselves. They can easily retain their exclusive status and use all the advantages of digital innovations.
For more insight on reaching your target market, see “Media Firms And The Direct-To-Consumer Business Model: Why Your IT Architecture May Need A Rethink.”