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How Luxury Brands are Combining Aesthetics with Technology

Luxury retail brands are going one step ahead with digital marketing and implementing augmented reality and virtual reality campaigns, changing how society thinks of a shopping experience

In today’s digital world, everything has become accessible through either cellular phones or the internet. A task such as shopping was used to be done only by going into the store and browsing through rows and rails of merchandise, but not anymore. Due to the rise of online shopping and a tech-savvy next generation, luxury brands have begun to implement augmented realities and digital marketing strategies to appeal to both older and younger demographic. Luxury brands are bringing the luxury retail industry into the new millenium.

Ralph Lauren in-store screen technology augmented reality

In the ever changing fashion industry, the words “one day you’re in, the next you’re out”, drive designers to constantly create novel designs and a new shopping experience. According to Deloitte, “over half of in-store sales are influenced by digital.” In response, luxury brands such as Gucci and Burberry have implemented digital marketing strategies and augmented realities to revamp their in-store shopping experience and appeal to the millennial demographic.

What does that mean?
Augmented and virtual realities are creating a massive difference in how consumers shop today. The difference between virtual and augmented realities is the experience that the consumer will have. Virtual Reality or VR creates a whole new world for consumers to explore. Luxury Brands such as Jaguar and Yves Saint Laurent have experimented with virtual realities to show a side of the brand that has never been seen before. Using virtual reality headsets gives the consumer a glimpse into the luxury driven world the brand has created.

Watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen, for example, released an interactive Virtual Reality movie, available on Google Spotlight Stories, where viewers can embark on a motorbike ride to the Mojave Desert in California, with actor Bradley Cooper no less, having the decisions they make along the way influence the outcome of the story! But it’s all inside a headset – in a completely computer generated world.

On the other hand, Augmented Reality or AR offers a more practical use of digital marketing. Augmented Reality gives shoppers the chance to familiarize themselves with a brand’s new product or services. It is closer to the real world, and the technology simply adds graphics, sounds and smells to the natural world as it exists. It enhances the world around you. Kate Spade New York and Dior are just a few luxury brands that have implemented augmented realities to launch new products or help shoppers pick their latest purchase.

Gucci X Ignasi Monreal Illustration Augmented Reality

Gucci is the most recent luxury brand to implement an augmented reality campaign for its SS 2018 collection. Made by artist Ignasi Monreal, 15 out of the 20 campaign illustrations appeared in print magazine and newspapers, which were also scannable via the Gucci app, revealing augmented reality effects.

Through the use of augmented realities and digital marketing campaigns, luxury brands are creating a stronger brand. Madelyn Postman, Managing Director of Leidar UK, believes that introducing new digital strategies keeps luxury brands from being dated.

The forerunner
“Up until 2008-2009, Burberry sales were disappointing,” Ms. Postman said. “The brand is well known for its sophisticated image, Britishness and being traditional. Christopher Bailey completely transformed its image to tap into a younger market.”

Burberry was the first luxury brand to implement a digital marketing strategy. Launched in 2009, The Art of Trench campaign was the first of its kind to engage consumers with technology. The website showed everyday people wearing their Burberry trench coat, asking for photographers, models and everyone to submit their best photo in hope they will be featured on the site. The website also offered history on the Burberry trench coat, showing how it has evolved since the 1900s. Burberry’s digital marketing shows how a brand can still stay true its traditions, but reach wider audience as well.

Luxury brands that have been at the forefront of fashion pride themselves on tradition and exquisite craftsmanship. Although as the demand of ‘fast fashion’ rises, it is difficult for traditional luxury brands to strike a balance between two different audiences. Digital marketing gives luxury brands the opportunity to show their versatility.

How it’s done
When it comes to choosing the most effective digital marketing platform, Ms. Postman believes the best choice is social media to engage with the brand’s target audience.

Social media marketing has allowed brands that normally appeal to an older demographic, to be able to show their ‘lighter and funner’ side to their audience. Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter are the main social media outlets used for engaging with the younger demographic, while also presenting brand versatility. Getting a sneak peek of the brand’s latest collection or behind the scenes footage is as easy as opening up the Instagram app and following these luxury brands.

“The best platforms right now are Instagram and Snapchat,” Ms. Postman said. “But aggressive advertising won’t work. Instead, a sponsored content/story is the right way to engage with your target customers.”

Luxury brands have a lot to benefit from implementing digital marketing strategies. Trevor Sumner, CEO of Perch Interactive, believes that luxury brands are benefiting most by evoking emotion from their audience.

“Luxury brands benefit most from telling a story, commanding a premium by evoking an emotion, a sense of desire or a sense of exclusivity,” Mr. Sumner said. “To plug into that trilogy, it’s no surprise that visual media like videos work well as a content type, distributing to influencer marketers who set trends is increasingly critical, and limited-run collaborations and product sets are increasingly popular.”


Luxury brands can also expect to a rise in sales from implementing augmented realities and other digital marketing strategies. Kate Spade New York enlisted Perch Interactive to create a more effective shopping experience. The ‘Make It Mine’ service allowed customers to customize the perfect handbag with any outfit.

“In addition to picking a convertible bag, the customer has infinite possibilities for customization, where she can mix and match with straps and tassels, charms and more,” Mr. Sumner said. “But demonstrating all the combinations is a lot of work for a salesperson and not all the inventory may be readily available. Kate Spade New York uses Perch to help clients pick the right bag, and drives additional sales and accessories per bag.”

Dior has also enlisted the use of augmented and virtual reality to give a behind-the-scenes look on the brand. The luxury brand released ‘Dior Eyes’, a virtual reality headset by the brand, which offers exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the brand’s ready-to-wear runway shows that would normally not be seen by a Dior consumer. Dior Eyes was introduced at selected Dior stores helping drive sales upward.

Dior Eyes Virtual Reality Headset

There is no denying that society is constantly moving into the digital era. Combining digital marketing and fashion is bringing brands, which often appealed to the older demographic, to a young spotlight. Social media and other digital marketing campaigns are making sure luxury brands stay at the top of the market for generations to come.