The understanding of luxury has undergone significant changes in recent years due to the increased accessibility of exclusive yet affordable products. It appears that the consumption level of high-end goods has given everyone who wants to, a right to access the ‘luxury experience’ at various price points. This is thanks in part to the changing notion of digital luxury.
Traditional luxury brands are opening themselves up to new opportunities and markets to build and expand out their audience to new consumers. In order to do so, they seek new communication channels, merging the notion of exclusivity with brand awareness towards the global mass market.
In this article, we will explore 5 examples of luxury leaders that have embraced digital transformation in their brand practices.
Victorinox has been in the game for 130 years and is famous for producing Swiss army knives. In recent years, the brand has expanded to involve collaborations - a notable partnership they introduced was with the sustainability-driven designer, Christopher Raeburn.
The makers of original Swiss army knives set up a “Remade in Switzerland” studio in Ibach, the birthplace of Victorinox founder Karl Elsener, where Raeburn not only sourced the fabrics for his collection but also found the original house in which Elsener launched the brand. It was here that Ræburn chose to establish his Swiss LAB, where he would produce the 100 pieces of each style by hand. The collaboration lasted over six years.
Immediately after, Victorinox introduced a new campaign entitled '#TheMakers' to “dedicate themselves to digital craftsmanship.” The idea was to work with people who “connect with Victorinox - either through their work or through a shared past or attitude.” Victorinox commissioned a few well-known names in Switzerland including designer Stephen Kenn to create digital artwork for the brand.
Traditional watchmaker house Wempe went down the customization route, which is continuing to grow in popularity when it comes to digital luxury trends as it creates an added feeling of exclusivity. The brand now not only offers modern and classical pieces but also a special customized service. In order to create digital buzz and outreach to new audiences, the brand relies heavily on influencer activation to promote its' products and specialized service. One of the most popular German Influencers, Caroline Daur has been a regular partner for the brand, as she incorporating her own spin on some of their products in a cultivated collaboration. This allows the brand to increase their touchpoints to a wider, and notably, younger audience.
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Another brand that has utilized Influencer Voices in order to generate awareness and attract new audiences is watchmaker, Tag Heuer, who approached seven influencers as part of their campaign surrounding the New York Marathon. This campaign was set up to help bring their new, modernized watch to a younger, conscious audience.
Tag Heuer followed the seven athletes during the race to get an inside perspective of the payoff for the intense training that built up to the marathon through social media and a dedicated microsite. This activation ladders up to their overarching campaign #DontCrackUnderPressure. By sharing photos in a branded hashtag, and encouraging influencers and consumers to do the same, Tag Heuer essentially created an image-bank of content related to the campaign that they could repurpose and explore.
Hublot has been the official timekeeper at the past three soccer World Cup finals, with the watchmaker providing smartwatches for referees, and it's branding appearing across advertising at the event and officials’ signboards. The brand had more than 20 minutes of visibility during each match to a global audience of billions who was able to see the name 'Hublot.' The fourth referee’s board was even in the shape of a watch in order to further promote the brand and drive home the distinction of Hublot as a watch brand to audiences tuning in. “Of course not all of those billions of people can afford to buy a Hublot watch, but we believe that people knowing that Hublot is a watch brand is enough; maybe one day people will be able to afford to buy one,” were the words of CEO Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe at the press conference prior to the tournament.
Swiss brand Montblanc wanted to establish a young yet luxury brand image by engaging Chinese influencers. Much like the others on this list, Montblanc planned to drive engagement to their social media platforms and website, as well as attracting a younger, growing base of Chinese consumers to experience an in-store service at their Flagship Store on New Bond Street. Montblanc invited selected Chinese influencers to publish posts and stories on their social media platforms to share their special moments with the iconic brand. This campaign was supported by a few exclusive in-store events for the influencers, where they could experience the premium quality of Montblanc products and the inspiration behind their design. A calligrapher rounded up what the new-gen will probably call an analog experience, simply writing (instead of typing) with a Montblanc pen. And it worked.
Recently, Montblanc worked with @santoshishetty to explore the art scene in Berlin. The artist @marc_jung_brought Berlin’s urban spirit to brand special travel event last months with a wall of painted suitcases.
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5 Key Lessons To Take Away
These five successful digital strategies for traditional luxury houses teach us a lot about bridging the gap between exclusivity and a global approach to different audiences and ages. Here's a roundup of the 5 key things you should remember.
- Know how to translate heritage within a current digital landscape.
- Use the right Voices to get the message across and present products in an authentic way. Let your chosen influencer be part of the story, too, instead of agreeing on paid campaigns and posts. Wempe and Caroline Daur's collaboration appeared natural and approached the right audience.
- Think about the analog experience as being key. For Montblanc, this has been crucial to address digital natives in a different way.
- Use real-world large events to generate content online, and be open to diverse markets – Tag Heuer addressed the sports crowd to be seen in a different light.
- Identify the real value to address. Montblanc used the global trend of constant traveling to re-connect their audience and bring new value to their product.