The latest edition of the Lyst Index has recently been released and, as always, I found it made for interesting reading. The list, which is a ranking of fashion’s “hottest” brands and products is a measuring stick of which brands are doing well – and what it is that sets them apart in the market.
The latest edition, which was topped by Prada, demonstrated clearly that excellence in experience, especially in the physical world, is the hallmark of a truly top brand today. Prada was commended for its Pradasphere II event in Shanghai, and second-placed Miu Miu secured its place with the Miu Miu club in Tokyo. On top of that, fifth placed Moncler’s Genius collaborations and third-placed Loewe’s involvement with the Met Gala set them apart.
Moncler also provided a perfect example of how to make a mark with today’s luxury consumers by displaying great creativity in collaborations with Adidas and Palm Angels, and sustainability excellence by topping the Dow Jones Sustainability Inices again. All of this is important as brand storytelling and engagement with what matters to consumers is more important than ever.
The true luxury leaders today can tap into and embody what engages shoppers, and also bring that and their own brand experience to life in new, exciting and engaging ways. They are delivering on what matters for the consumer. This is why, as I have argued in the past, that brands must always be given the space and opportunity to control how their story is told in the physical space.
But it is easy to identify that creating experiences is a key pillar of excellence in the modern market, but what is it that sets experiences apart for consumers in 2024?
Know Your Shoppers
This sounds obvious, but every experience, in fact every space, must be tailored to not just your brand’s consumers, but the specific shoppers who will visit that location. An American patron of a brand will not want the same experience as a Chinese one, and an Italian will want another altogether. There is no space for copy & paste activations, pop-ups or experiences. No matter how good the brand story, the storytelling must suit the situation and the audience. This is why we at 2.0 & Partners, in our work in travel retail, offer our Strategic Mystery Shopping – you must walk in your customers’ shoes and understand exactly what they want.
Create a Clear Brand Experience
Multi-brand stores have their place in certain markets, like smaller airports for example, where they flourish. But true experiences which shoppers can dwell on and in must be delivered and created direct by the brand. Stores are becoming lifestyle spaces, where consumers seek to live the brand experience, that can only be done if that brand experience is undiluted and professionally delivered – on every level.
Think Bigger: Move Beyond Usual Concepts
I cannot stress the importance of newness enough here. Moncler’s Genius line is a great example of constant reinvention and innovation, while staying true to the brand ethos. In many cases, this involves the incorporation of F&B and non-retail aspects, to create a proper lifestyle offer. Look at the Louis Vuitton Lounge which opened at Hamad International Airport with Qatar Duty Free and Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno, this is a Louis Vuitton experience, no doubt, but it is also so much more.
Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate
The last two points have highlighted this, but it is another thing I cannot mention enough: collaboration is key. Newness is created by bringing together two things which shoppers have not seen before. Brands must ensure they maintain their clear storytelling and experience, but done right, this is unbeatable – there are many great recent examples such as Fendi and Heytea or Givenchy and Undercover.
Do It All Digitally Too
Digital “touchpoints” like the occasional Instagram post and an LED screen do not cut it. They are signposts. Social media is entry level when it comes to digital engagement, anyone not doing it has no place to play in the market. But true digital engagement has moved on, way on. Today, consumers create online and share their creations, then want to be able to do the same with their favourite brands. Recent gaming collaborations have shown this to be true. But if they can build a world online, then brand must build them one offline too. All physical brand spaces should take the online experience and enhance it further.
Creating a physical space today is not just about hosting an experience, it is about creating a world for shoppers to inhabit. As the very best are showing us, it is time to think bigger,