By Marco Passoni
“You are unique. But so is everyone else.” This adage applies to many of the brands working in both the luxury and travel retail sectors today – and it is, for me, at the heart of a problem which is blighting both industries.
As you look at the luxury and travel retail sectors, one can see many brands who speak with great enthusiasm about offering a tailored service, dedicated experiences and ground-breaking uniqueness. Unfortunately, if everyone is promising that, then this becomes the standard, not a defining or distinctive aspect of your offer.
In an industry where everyone needs to, and wants to, stand out, the important thing is not what you say, it is what you do. So many brands promise premium experiences, or luxury service, and then fail to deliver anything remarkable. And our customers can tell the difference.
In an industry where everyone needs to, and wants to, stand out, the important thing is not what you say, it is what you do
But there is a deeper problem, even if everyone delivers luxury and engagement and good service, then what sets your brand and business apart? As luxury columnist and Équité CEO Daniel Langer puts it in a recent column, consumers are left facing a “sea of sameness”.
Simply put, if everyone is promising premium, then what makes your brand and offer stand out? Far too often, in both travel retail and luxury, we see brands all fighting to tell the same story. In luxury it is a one-size-fits all ‘premium’ service with VIP rooms and personal shoppers, in travel retail it is digital experience screens and eye-catching engagements. All of these are vital, but they are not what makes your brand stand apart for consumers. They are the requirements to play at this level, they are not differentiators.
The brands that truly make their mark and seize the attention of shoppers, are those which communicate their brand story and identity. They are the ones who speak to shoppers’ needs through the language and actions of their own brand and brand story. Your brand story is the one thing which sets you apart. It must always be your focus.
The brands that truly make their mark and seize the attention of shoppers, are those which communicate their brand story and identity
The Moncler Genius concept is a great example of this being done well. The show at this spring’s LFW debuted new collaborations and concepts which create, as CEO Remo Ruffini put it, “new energy with new communities”.
This is true engagement. This is an offer which truly attracts shoppers. Of course, it is premium. Of course, if delivers experience and much, much more. But it also speaks to consumers is a way that is unmistakably ‘Moncler’ and which no one else can copy or match. This focus on generating energy and community through brand identity is what truly speaks to shoppers today.
We have seen many examples of brand experiences like this recently. Balenciaga has offered everything from striking collaborations with Fortnite and The Simpsons, to a living embodiment of its disruptive mindset in its Bond Street store. Likewise, Jacquemus brought its ideals to life with a soft overhaul of its Paris store in Galeries Lafayette.
These are brand experiences which speak to shoppers because they do not promise more of the same, they deliver something new, innovative, and unmistakably of the brand’s world. Doing this allows shoppers to decide what they like – and they are deciding they like brands who do not talk about it, they live it.