By Marco Passoni
As we bid farewell to 2022, we are putting behind us a year which I believe has shaped the future of how we will do business in both the luxury and travel retail markets.
The trends and changes which we have grappled with in the past 12 months will define many of our plans for years to come. Here are the ones which have stood out for me:
Gamification and Digital collaborations
This has been a stellar year for luxury brands breaking out of their comfort zone and creating some truly spectacular collaborations with online and digital gaming platforms. The Balenciaga and Fortnite collaboration at the end of last year set the tone and this year has taken it to a new level, most recently with Ralph Lauren creating an online/offline partnership with Fortnite to release in-game and real-world collections. Such engagement which breaks down boundaries and reaches shoppers where they are is going to be vital going forward.
The digital collaborations speak to a wider trend for partnership which has begun to be truly realised in both the luxury space and – somewhat slower – in travel retail. Creating new concepts by bringing together brands which exist in different spaces is a great way to generate exclusivity, buzz and added value. Take, for example, the Adidas X Gucci partnership from this summer – excitement was incredibly high before the products were even revealed.
Finally, we all seem to have come to terms with a travel retail world, and a luxury world, which exists apart from China. The Chinese market and shoppers will always be a high-spending opportunity, but while travel restrictions remain in place and the government seeks to keep spend at home, challenges will always exist for both TR and luxury. Fortunately, this year we have seen spend recover in some sectors without Chinese shoppers and we are recognising the renewed potential of traditional core markets such as Europe and North America, while also discovering new opportunities in places such as India and Vietnam.
Despite the economic challenges and the Covid headache, spend has bounced back in a big way, which gives hope for the future. Shoppers are still keen to engage with – and invest in – brands, and predictions suggest that luxury spend is set to continue growing in the 2023.
Luxury has been a true driver of recovery in the wake of the pandemic. Many of the leading brands and maisons have seen stellar results this year and underlines why this is a sector which should be at the centre of everyone’s plans. Luxury can provide a value and experience which no other market can and as shoppers keep seeking those moments to take with them, luxury is going to become even more important.
Sustainability is key
The days of greenwashing are, I believe, behind us. Shoppers are so informed and engaged now that they will accept nothing less that excellence in sustainability from brands and retailers. There are also no excuses now; after Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard gave away his $3bn to create a trust and non-profit to combat climate change, no one has an excuse for not doing their bit.
In-person is best
The pandemic led to so much discussion of how the world will change with digital interaction and store staff will have no place anymore. Thankfully, those predictions were wrong. The desire for a personalised and personal experience is as high as ever and feedback from retailers and brands is that human interaction often helps to drive and influence sales.