Digital innovation stands to benefit luxury marketers – who can and are embracing digital while maintaining their exclusivity.
Digital will be an increasingly lucrative discovery channel for consumers; in fact, recent projections suggest that by 2020, online is expected to drive 40% of luxury brands’ sales growth. To transform effectively, luxury retailers can look towards the beauty industry (where face-mapping, projection, and personalization technology are already viable options) for several key lessons.
In the coming years, breakthrough technologies will transform the way that we shop online for beauty, fashion, and other categories where trial is an issue (see Figure 1).
To begin with, we’re seeing increasing sophistication in augmented reality (AR), where professional-grade, markerless facial tracking and mapping is brought to the mass-market consumer. Suddenly, consumers are empowered to experiment with products – and self-expression – from the comfort of their own living rooms and in ways that still feel tangible enough to drive new purchases.
In addition, shoppers are currently offered little guidance or assistance when selecting what they need (think self-service shopping amidst walls of products) or want (think customized consultation regarding high-end products). AR creates the possibility of a seamless and tailored omnichannel purchase journey, which will have huge implications for the luxury sector and its rate of growth both on- and offline.
Customised service will also help brands to connect with larger percentages of their target groups and tap into those potential customers who aren’t actively trying, buying, or using products (an area of significant growth for the beauty industry).
By applying artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to consumer data, brands will be able to automate the kind of tailored experiences that consumers could previously only get from visiting a top makeup artist or stylist. This, coupled with technology such as 3D printing, could offer consumers the ultimate made-to-match beauty service – one that takes identified skin tones and prints exact pantones onto foundations, blushers, and lipsticks.
For luxury brands, increasing value will be placed on the interactive nature of branded products. Similar to customized advisory (such as that offered by AI), products will be expected to fit seamlessly to body shapes and even allow for real-time alteration.
In today’s world, where consumers spend as much time curating their online presence and appearance as they do their physical selves, digital is forcing a new shaping of identities.
And since the psychology of beauty is rooted in our identities, brands will own an entirely new space by taking the concept of the “curated self” and enabling people to bring this new reality into the physical world.
For example, we could select new products based on what fits with our physiological DNA. It’s a long way off, but through biohacking – the process of bringing together technology and biological processes to optimise how our bodies work – we could effectively alter our physical selves using digital tools.
While the ethics are still being debated, this is a ripe area for digital innovation teams of beauty and luxury brands alike to begin looking at when creating experiences that are truly unique and personal.
Beauty brands have used technology as a catalyst for transforming their industry’s mindset and models. They have done this by shifting from “mass” to “individual” – a particularly pertinent transformation for luxury brands struggling to maintain exclusivity in a mass-market platform.
As beauty brands have also begun to shift from product to service, luxury retailers too should plan to compete as much in curating services as selling traditional consumer packaged goods.
By marrying tech innovations with human behavior, luxury marketers will unravel massive new opportunities and inject cash into stagnant categories.
For more key tech trends driving digital integration for luxury retailers, download the full article PDF below.