Many historians attribute the turning of the tide in World War 2 to Alan Turing and his work in cracking the mystery of the Enigma machine. It took many years and dozens of people, but the uncrackable was finally solved.
In many ways, cracking the Millennial market is similar to deciphering the Enigma machine; it’s an endeavour that requires many years, an army of marketing experts, and a willingness to fail. Even so, luxury brands are closer than ever to understanding the mindsets of younger consumers, thanks to the treasure trove of data that they’ve gathered from a variety of studies and anecdotes.
One such study came courtesy of consulting firm Deloitte, which studied the changing shopping habits of today’s consumer. The year-long study involved analysing government data, conducting interviews, and surveying over 4,000 consumers in the United States. While the result was America-centric, its findings can still be broadly applied to most first-world economies.
In a nutshell, new-age consumers have changed. Not only is the modern consumer base more demographically diverse and has similarly diversified spending patterns, it is also facing greater economic pressures than previous generations and delaying many of life’s milestones as a result. But while some may say that these changes indicate a fundamental shift in consumer preferences, the study postulates that the modern consumer’s more distinct needs have coupled with an abundance of choices to magnify the changes in consumption patterns.
One thing is clear — brands need to change the way that they communicate and interact with the modern consumer and take advantage of new media avenues to do so. Here, we highlight how five luxury brands have created their own successful digital consumer strategies that parallel insights gleaned from the study.
Omega and #SpeedyTuesday
The hashtag #SpeedyTuesday is a perfect example of a brand capitalising on a community-grown digital movement, one that would never have existed pre-Internet. Created by Fratello Watches founder Robert-Jan Broer in 2012, #SpeedyTuesday soon became the hashtag of choice for owners and enthusiasts around the world to celebrate their love for all things Speedmaster on social media. Five years after its birth, Omega capitalised on the hashtag by announcing the release of a limited edition Speedmaster on its official Instagram page. Fans could only purchase it online. The Speedy Tuesday limited edition was such a success that Omega released numerous Speedy Tuesday LE watches in the years to follow, including this writer’s favourite — the Ultraman pictured above.
Burberry B Series
While it’s not surprising to note that more Millennials (28 per cent of Deloitte’s survey respondents) spend a larger share of their wallets online, brands have also picked up on the fact that even baby boomers (20 per cent) are spending more of their hard-earned money on e-commerce instead of physical retail.
The enfant terrible of fashion and the creative director of Burberry Riccardo Tisci certainly grasps this change well. Burberry’s B Series is a capsule collection that’s only available on Instagram, WeChat, LINE and Kakao for 24 hours. Once you’ve missed the boat, it’s not coming back ever. From T-shirts and sneakers to swim trunks, the items in the B Series collection are as eclectic as they are Tisci-esque, and the fact that the collection is still going strong for more than a year speaks to the strategy’s success.
Louis Vuitton and League of Legends
Say what you want about gaming, but the global gaming market is estimated to be worth $152 billion by the end of 2019. When you couple that with data from the study that reveals that the younger consumer is spending more time on leisure and sports, and less on shopping, then the collaboration between Louis Vuitton and League of Legends, an incredibly popular online multiplayer game, makes a lot of sense. To capture the Millennial’s attention, a luxury brand must be willing to slaughter sacred cows. It’s no surprise that Louis Vuitton has made such a move. After all, it was the first luxury brand to collaborate with streetwear icon Supreme.
This year, the maison designed a bespoke trophy travel case in the signature Vuitton monogram print to house the Summoner’s Cup, the trophy awarded to the world champions, as well as a series of unique digital skins for game characters. To tie the collaboration back to Louis Vuitton’s own luxury offerings, the brand created a special capsule collection that showcases a unique Monogram Louis Vuitton x League of Legends canvas. It’s a move that makes a lot of sense for today’s gaming-oriented world. The collection is now available for preorder on the Louis Vuitton website.
Prada Time Capsule Project
Taking a page from Burberry’s book, Prada is launching limited edition drops that are only available for 24 hours on its website, starting from this month. It’s part of the luxury brand’s large-scale revamp of its website, which will take visitors through the aptly titled “Prada-sphere” and comprise special projects, campaigns, films, editorial content and more. The Italian brand might be fashionably late to the digital party, but that doesn’t necessarily put it on the back foot.
In fact, the Deloitte study discovered that Millennials (and to a certain extent, the baby boomers) are buying more units of clothing, yet still spending the same amount of their discretionary income on clothing compared to the same generation from two decades ago. It’s no surprise, since many want more bang for their buck. And one of the strategies that luxury brands have begun applying to create more bang for your buck is to design more limited-edition items that only a select few can have, while keeping prices reasonably attractive.
Baume’s Sustainable Watches
Sustainability might be the buzzword of the moment, but Baume had already embraced this ethos during its genesis last year. An offshoot of the Baume & Mercier watch brand, Baume is by no means a lesser sibling. The only similarity it has with its parent brand is the name; Baume has its own strategy and watchmaking goals. In this regard, one of its brand philosophies is to only use upcycled, recycled and natural materials in its watches. You won’t find diamonds or animal materials on any of its horological creations. Head of Baume Marie Chassot has also indicated that the brand will eventually build assembly facilities in the various markets that Baume is sold in, with the aim of reducing each watch’s carbon footprint.
Much has been discussed about the average Millennial consumer’s preference for buying from ethical and sustainable sources. While the Deloitte study indicates that the majority of consumers are still more concerned about good deals and even better convenience, a growing number also prefer buying from brands that are aligned with their core values. In this respect, a luxury brand that can achieve the holy trinity — fairly priced, accessible and sustainability — will forge ahead of the competition.