The fourth edition of arab luxury world, the Middle East’s leading luxury business conference, was held on May 22 and 23 at The Westin Dubai. The two-day conference featured keynotes, panel discussions as well as breakout sessions and workshops.
While the event focused on key economic and business issues, it inevitably focused on the emergence – even dominance – of digital and its role in the luxury consumer journey.
Amid talks of digital strategies, new technologies, and the millennial consumers, here are the five key points to remember:
1. Luxury consumers are getting younger and hence, more digitally-savvy
By 2020, millennials will be 40 percent of the luxury market. This means that you have to speak to them on their mobile devices in a way that resonates with them.
Millennials want more unique experiences; they are re-defining luxury. Figure out how to speak to this segment if you really want to succeed in your marketing strategy.
2. Luxury is art and art is eternal
Throughout the two days, there were various attempts to define luxury. While there was no one simple definition, it was unanimous that luxury is unique and bespoke. It’s an art. The greatest luxury brands pride themselves on the craftsmanship and art behind their products more than anything else. And, unfortunately, technology can often be a barrier to creating art due to its ever-evolving nature.
3. Always, always stay true to your brand
The theme of the conference was “Digital disruption and emotional engagement” and while it’s clear that digital is disrupting models and ecosystems, it’s worth considering that it can end up destroying – rather than disrupting – a brand if not used in the right way. As chairman of Hublot and president of LVMH Group’s Watch Division, overseeing Tag Heuer, Hublot and Zenith, Jean Claude Biver put it, “Disruption is an attitude. Disruption is a culture. Disruption must be coherent with the message of the brand. Disruption requires respecting and understanding the past. Courage. Trust in yourself. Creativity. It requests to be coherent with what the brand needs. Otherwise, you can destroy the brand.” This also means developing a company culture that encourages experimentation and accepts failure.
Similarly, it’s important not to lose sight of the basics of marketing in the quest for digital excellence. Don’t underestimate yourself and get overwhelmed by new technologies.
4. The store is still extremely important
More than 90 percent of IWC’s sales still take place in-store, and overall 77 percent of consumers in the Middle East prefer shopping in-store for luxury items. According to a 2016 survey, approximately 50 percent don’t trust online payments.
So, the store is still the end point of purchase but what that in-store experience looks like is changing.
5. But, digital is influencing the store visit
While 77 percent of consumers in the Middle East prefer shopping in-store for luxury items, this number is down from 81 percent last year signaling a shift to online.
Moreover, approximately 80 percent of in-store purchases start with online discovery, which means (1) brands need to be present online to influence users into becoming consumers, and (2) have a coherent and well-aligned message online and offline