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The Changemakers’ Summit, the inaugural event we recently hosted in partnership with CoreMedia, was designed to bring together visionary marketers committed to driving transformational change in the luxury retail space.

The summit was an in-depth, intimate discussion with industry leaders from the branding, marketing and CX divisions of luxury retailers. These experts came together to explore challenges, solutions and insights shaping the future of marketing in the industry.

The discussion was facilitated by Steve Russell, Vice President of North America and Northern Europe at CoreMedia and our very own Senior Vice President of Business Development, Steve Gale.

Key learnings from The Changemakers’ Summit

Key insights discussed by the experts included:

1. The pandemic inflated growth forecasts - and now retailers are feeling the impact

Off the back of contributive factors during Covid, like more disposable income for many and a surge in online shopping, luxury retailers experienced a hike in business - and that reflected in their forecasting. Now, the boom is beginning to wane, but targets remain ambitious.

Rather than readjusting the numbers, our experts discussed aggressive growth plans to meet these new, post-Covid targets, with strategies including range diversification, exploration of new markets and attempting to reach a new generation of shoppers; as well as a concerted effort to provide a top-tier service for returning customers and reward loyalty.

2. Customers prefer a sustainable option - but it’s not the most important factor

When polled, customers usually state they’re concerned about sustainability - particularly younger generations. But our retail leaders said that, in their experience, sustainability was only a deciding factor for most shoppers if items already ticked boxes around cost, style and convenience. Furthermore, the behind-the-scenes green credentials of retailers - like being paperless, for example - are barely on consumers’ radars. 

Instead, when it comes to sustainability, luxury brands identified their ‘place to play’ is producing long-lasting, quality items that can be cherished and passed down over generations. To enhance this offering, several retailers stated they’re making more of their repairs service - something that might have existed quietly for a while but that there’s a growing demand for.

3. AI has a part to play - but it’s not the whole story

In a year where AI remained staunchly in the centre of the zeitgeist, brands admitted they still have reservations about handing over their CX to a bot. 

The consensus in the room was that existing AI systems are a great first stage - both when it comes to content creation and interacting with customers. But as soon as things became a little more complex, our Changemakers agreed that nothing can replace the human touch. 

Luxury is purposeful, and handing a finely honed brand over to AI tends to make the customer less enamoured. Luxury consumers want to know that their purchase - and all the interactions around it - came from someone who loves what they do and took time and effort over it.

4. Gen Z aren’t buying luxury - yet 

Our Changemakers agreed that while their core demographics tended to be in their mid-30s and up, their social content did particularly well with younger viewers - perhaps unsurprisingly, especially on TikTok. 

When talk turned to TikTok, our experts identified an opportunity but also a threat. While there’s scope to speak directly to the shoppers of tomorrow, the landscape is also volatile, and working with influencers (which the room agreed was becoming more of a necessity) is risky as your brand reputation hangs on the actions of an individual. 

Retailers discussed that you need a healthy bottom line to put real investment in social media - not least because it’s a bit of a gamble, and not as measurable as some more traditional advertising methods. To that end, they said that social media strategy needs to be a brand-building exercise rather than having the objective of driving sales. 

They all agreed that long-term brand building was an investment worth making. After all, in the words of one delegate, he knew someone who ‘bought an Aston Martin because of an advert they saw when he was six’.

5. Personalisation might be overrated

It’s another buzzword in the CX space, and certainly, almost all brands are exercising some level of personalisation in their marketing plans.

Generally speaking, retailers around the table agreed that personalisation was most helpful in the clienteling environment - i.e. engaging with key customers based on their preferences, behaviours and purchases in order to establish long-term relationships.

But the idea of hyper-personalisation didn’t really resonate with the room - in fact, they said a lot of their customers didn’t want it. “Sometimes a customer just wants a peaceful experience - both online and in-store,” said one expert. 

Indeed, the marketers agreed that the tech required for hyper-personalisation has existed for a long time - but that there was a reluctance to implement it. 

Navigating the future

We encourage organisations to delve deeper into how these trends can be tailored to suit their respective industries and organisational needs. By embracing these trends and grasping their importance, companies can strategically position themselves for success in the constantly evolving digital landscape, where prioritising customer experience is the key to sustainable growth.

Unlock growth potential in the ever-changing retail landscape with our bespoke CX services. Our brand, experience and marketing experts craft tailored strategies to meet ambitious post-Covid targets, from range diversification to tapping into new markets. Contact our CX team today and get a tailored plan to meet your objectives with costs.

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