As luxury consumers become younger, digital is increasingly permeating luxury transactions, re-framing expectations of the physical retail experience and modifying luxury’s path to purchase.
Writing for WARC, David Frymann, a partner at strategic growth consultancy Frontier, notes that online luxury sales grew 22% in 2018 and now account for 10% of all luxury sales – and that proportion is set to hit 25% within five years.
In “Five luxury trends: How digital is re-framing the path to purchase”, Frymann explains that the changes taking place in the luxury retail ecosystem are largely attributable to shifts in shopping behaviour in recent years.
The vast majority of luxury shoppers, whose average age has fallen from 48 to 34, now engage with brands and goods online before making purchases, he points out, regardless of whether the ultimate transaction occurs online or in-store.
Digital will soon permeate every luxury purchase, he says, “with approximately half of all luxury purchases digitally-enabled by new technologies along the value chain and nearly all luxury purchases influenced by online interactions”.
This development demands an omnichannel response; the blurring of the on and offline worlds is perhaps the greatest impact on luxury’s new path to purchase journey.
A ‘buy online and pick up in store’ option is already offered by a wide range of brands, but Frymann highlights a reverse path offered by an inventory-less store, such as The Conservatory in New York.
Its promise of “online shopping in real life” involves curated edits from 50+ brand partners with just one item of every size available in-store to touch and try, he explains, with the purchased product then delivered to the consumer’s home.
“Also relevant is consumers’ growing desire for more ways to immerse themselves in their favourite brands without necessarily making a purchase,” he adds.
This sort of behaviour is especially relevant in luxury where products are high cost and can be addressed in various ways. Prada, for example, has an official profile on Spotify, while high fashion brand Balmain developed an AR app to enable younger consumers to access its luxury fashion universe.