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Why Luxury Brands Need Content Vision
A publication of It's A Working Title LLC
This weekly publication focuses on how business and economics trends, technology, and the drive for sustainability impact the global luxury and fashion industries. Prepared by the staff of content strategy agency and think tank It’s a Working Title LLC, each week’s issue provides a summary of recent trends across the globe and a leader that conducts a deeper dive into content strategy.
This week’s contents
Leader: Why Luxury Brands Need Content Vision
In the age of fast fashion, fast information, and virtual fashion weeks, trends come and go at a mile a second. From a content perspective, fashion and luxury brands, like most companies, feel under constant pressure to be everywhere, all the time, simply in order to keep up.
What are fashion and luxury brands supposed to make of a constantly-evolving digital marketplace that has already changed the face of marketing, sales, and product development? After all, brands are already under the gun to produce seasonless collections, to set a bold sustainability agenda and be transparent about it, and to manage a slew of supply chain and manufacturing issues brought on by once-in-a-century pandemic. Brands need to define an authentic digital identity, cultivate a customer-centric online shopping experience, and produce original content around-the-clock across platforms to feed consumers hungry for the latest sensation.
It should come as no surprise that big fashion and luxury retailers have big ideas and big goals when it comes to content and business strategy. “Omnichannel” is perhaps the most over-romanticized and least contextualized term related to content strategy. What omnichannel actually means depends greatly on the brand, their teams, their audiences, their chosen channels, and the volume and cadence of their content publishing, never mind their vision and conception of what “good” content actually looks like.
The key to getting anywhere with content in today’s enormously complex content landscape–which crosses from digital to IRL and back again with great abandon–lies in the art of content vision and roadmap design. A content vision and roadmap document is an elaborate name for a living, breathing core content plan, intended to evolve over time, that houses a brand’s specific vision, goals, and roadmap–usually along with a battery of dimensional current and future state analyses, such as content audits, content architecture diagrams, content journey maps, audience analysis and persona development, and content modeling. This type of document by itself can go a long way to helping brands document, consolidate, and achieve discrete content goals across channels over time in a scalable, sustainable way.
Luxury necessitates a finely-tuned approach to content and in this way perhaps stands to benefit most from the centralized locus of content vision and roadmap design. Achieving beautiful content, like a finely tailored garment, requires planning, time, and patience. Setting up a brand-specific content master document that is carefully tailored to a brand’s vision, goals, audiences, and content, along with concrete success measures and clear examples of what “good” content looks like, is worth the investment for any brand that wants to stay in tune and align online and offline efforts.
In a win for content strategy, Salvatore Ferragamo teams with Farfetch as part of omnichannel strategy to target younger consumers. Digital transformation is the name of the next chapter in Salvatore Ferragamo’s brand reinvention under the leadership of CEO Marco Gobbetti via a new partnership with online luxury retailer Farfetch in a move to target younger, wealthier luxury consumers. The Italian luxury brand will migrate its online store onto Farfetch Platform Solutions, the company’s readymade tech platform, in an effort to target millennial and Gen Z luxury consumers more effectively. “Farfetch is the leading digital platform in luxury fashion and represents the ideal partner to further boost Ferragamo’s omnichannel innovation, fuelling our plans to reach new, younger audiences and accelerate our growth,” Gobbetti noted in a statement.
Brands experimenting with using NFTs to connect consumers with physical goods. A number of prominent brands are issuing digital tokens as a means of connecting customers to exclusive non-digital products, including Tiffany & Co., Prada, and Nike-owned RTFKT (pronounced pronounced “artifact”). Last week, we reported that Tiffany & Co. offered a pendant made exclusively for CrytopPunk holders after punching an NFTiff (see what they did there?) for 30 ETH. This week Prada announced its latest Timecapsule NFT collection, which the brand links to custom goods while RTFKT is connecting digital and real-world cross-overs. Given that digital assets are well aligned with offering exclusivity, as noted in a HBR report, they do line up with the marketing aspirations of luxury brands. Naturally, these offerings are tilted to a younger demographic, who are more likely to pursue NFT ownership. Also, there remain UX issues in NFT purchases, which may (for the moment, at least) make them better suited for the types of limited-edition products that we have seen so far than a tool for broader marketing and sales strategies.
Louis Vuitton’s new Bioclimatic Atelier is an innovative way to add a new link in a sustainable supply chain. The 65,000 square foot leather workshop in the Loir-et-Cher region of France shows how sustainability in the apparel industry can go right down to the manufacturing level. The building is made from recycled materials, it is fully powered by solar energy, and air flows through the building from the outside. Much attention has, quite justifiably, gone to recycled materials, reuse, and circularity when discussing the sustainability of fashion supply chains. Yet, the Bioclimatic Atelier exhibits how far a re-imagining of the industry can and must go.
Photo credit: Architectural Digest.
Business & Economics
Online luxury continues a strong pace of growth despite a slowing global economy. Despite fears of a looming recession and the re-emergence of IRL shopping experiences as COVID lockdowns have eased in most of the world, online luxury sales are the fastest growth segment of online retail by sales. Market share is expected to growth by 2.7 percent in 2022 (constituting almost $14 billion) and the annual growth rate remains aligned with the 8.5 percent per annum reported for the past five years.
The RealReal highlights the impact of persistent labor shortages and the return of pre-pandemic buying habits at Q2 earnings call. At its Q2 earnings call, The RealReal highlighted that they, like so many other parts of the service economy, are suffering from sales staff shortages, which are they seeking to fill through selectively higher pay. They also highlighted that the saw a return to pre-pandemic buying habits as consumers re-allocated disposable income away from luxury goods and into lower priced segments of the market. The RealReal reported a loss of $0.40 per share, which was a jump from a $0.50 per share loss during Q2 2021.
Farfetch returns to investing money and mentorships for luxury fashion web3 start-ups. After a two year break, Farfetch will re-launch its Dream Assembly Base Camp. The virtual 12-week program provides cash, mentorship, and networking for 5-10 start-ups seeking to develop digital fashion, immersive experiences, and tokenized loyalty programs. Farfetch follows so many other brands, as we have documented in previous editions of this periodical, in taking a forward lean into metaverse strategies despite a number of legal and business questions. Carol Hilsum, senior director of product innovation at Farfetch, noted that web2 was built over 20 years, while web3 is being built at the same time that consumers are using it. https://www.inputmag.com/style/farfetch-dream-assembly-base-camp-web3-startups
Copenhagen Fashion Week announces that it will go fur free. This week’s shows, which will run from August 9-12, will only feature collections that a fully free of fur. Though Copenhagen is not one of the world’s major fashion weeks, it is the flagship fashion exhibition for all of Scandinavia and, along with London Fashion Week, further shows the strong momentum turning the industry away from the use of real fur. Many major fashion houses have announced that they will no longer use real fur, including Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Prada, Burberry, Moncler, Versace, Michael Kors, Armani, Tom Ford, Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Ralph Lauren, and numerous others.