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Luxury vs Digital: The Culture Clash

Posted by February 17, 2015
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We were so inspired by Federico Barbieri, renowned SVP Digital and eBusiness for the Kering Group, after hearing him share his expertise at the Drapers Digital Forum, we asked him to share his views on the luxury and digital culture clash…

“Luxury is a unique experience that creates extra pleasure by flattering all senses at once.

“Whether it’s the quality of the raw materials and superior craftsmanship of products, the finely tuned retail environment, the sophisticated visual displays or the finesse of the in-store staff, in the luxury world perfection and detail is everything.

“For luxury brands, the digital world can be a culture clash. Whereas luxury is based on tradition and heritage that is built over time and is known for its durability and credibility, digital is an ever evolving world and changes at a very high pace.

“Luxury products are not launched until they are 100% perfect. Digital products, such as apps, however are launched in phases and in test environments – a concept wholly uncomfortable for perfectionist luxury brands.

“I often think that telling a luxury brand it needs to embrace and invest heavily in digital, is like trying to convince an Italian to take a half hour lunch break!

“And to add to the complexity of luxury brands, different regions of the world relate differently to the luxury experience. There are the North American Forward Thinkers, the European Heritage Keepers and the Asian Hungry Developers – to each of these regions, luxury has a different social meaning and differing digital expectations.

“But how do we bridge the gap? Is it for digital to understand the luxury world better? Is it a case of luxury brands evolving and starting to trust the digital world? Or will consumer demand for digital experiences force luxury to down the digital path?”

Paulo Bernini, Partner of Open Reply believes it’s about evolution:

“Personally I think the answer lies with the next generation of luxury managers and their expectation of digital to bridge the gap. Luxury inevitably needs to evolve, but the digital world needs to assure brands they can provide a premium experience through multiple channels. Let the Luxury vs Digital battle commence!”

Comments
  1. On February 25th, 2015, Natalie said...

    I totally agree and it’s not just luxury brands that don’t quite grasp the ‘phase’ or ‘soft launch’ concept for websites. We have clients that embrace it but are still a little unsure and we have clients who don’t see it as necessary. It is always a hard battle to explain, fight for and coerce clients to trust you in what you’re doing. They are obviously the expert in what they do but they need to trust that they have hired you because you are the experts at what you do.

    Paulo Bernini has hit the nail on the head that it will come down the next generation of luxury managers to bridge this gap of perfectionism vs web DEVELOPMENT.

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