How Luxury Brands Harness Technology to Stand Out in 2021: Whispr Group Analysis
By Lee Roden
Whispr Group and B-reel recently unveiled Internet of Luxury, a collaborative panel discussion and report exploring how luxury brands can best harness culture and technology at a time where our transition to a purely digital realm has sped up to an unprecedented pace...
For the project Whispr Group produced insights on a wide range of relevant subjects. From best practice examples to follow at 2020’s most inventive fashion shows, to the groundbreaking use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology in the luxury industry, and how brands can successfully stand out in this increasingly saturated digital space.
The findings demonstrate how a difficult 2020 forced ambitious experimentation resulting in innovations in the luxury landscape that are here to stay, making it essential to keep up.
In the past luxury brands and gaming may not have been an obvious combination, but in a world where the place of video games in pop culture is broader and more central than ever before, the gaming sphere presents a huge opportunity to connect with an audience that is growing exponentially. It’s no coincidence that the global gaming industry made $180bn in 2020 – that’s a 20% increase from the year before, and more than sports and movies worldwide combined.
And the brands who dared to try something new reaped the rewards: between 2019 and 2020 online and media mentions of luxury brand and gaming collaborations increased by over 100% YoY. It’s likely only the tip of the iceberg, with huge untapped potential for further collaborations going forward.
Virtual/Augmented Reality fill gap left by in-person events
At the same time as the onset of a global pandemic made major gatherings of people in a physical space impossible, widespread access to virtual and augmented reality technology (simulated live experiences which only require a smartphone to participate in) provided a chance to fill the gap, thereby reaching not only consumers who would have attended live events or stores under normal circumstances, but also increasing accessibility for groups who previously could not.
So while online engagement in fashion shows fell by 48 percent in 2020, mentions of luxury in combination with VR/AR simultaneously grew by 62% YoY. Brands who are early adopters can tap into an opportunity to maximise their exposure as the media seeks out fresh examples of innovation to report on. Gucci’s proactive digital strategy, including an AR Snapchat lens which allows users to virtually try on its shoes, is a clear example which drew a large amount of media attention.
This is what the new Gucci x Snapchat experience looks like. Tomorrow, I'll be talking to Gucci's Robert L. Triefus, who is EVP of brand and customer engagement, about the brand's AR strategy. pic.twitter.com/aB4qB4oprY
Digital communities make tough to reach demographics more open
Previously seen as the exclusive domain of gaming, Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch has been on a huge push to diversify in recent years, exposing its highly engaged, generally younger audience of 17 million daily users to everything from original live media content to record label exclusives.
Savvy luxury brands have been quick to notice the shift and actively worked to reach that passionate, substantial and still growing digital community. In September, Burberry became the first luxury brand to partner with the platform, using it to stream the Spring/Summer 2021 show from London Fashion Week, and allowing viewers to choose a number of visual perspectives while simultaneously discussing what was unfolding in real time.
With 43 percent of Twitch users part of Gen Z, Burberry thereby exposed the show to a demographic who often prove difficult to engage with through other traditional commercial means, but feels more comfortable and open while using a platform that they helped rise to popularity in the first place. The runway show drove 13 percent of all luxury/gaming conversations in 2020, and while Burberry are ahead of the pack, they certainly won’t be the last luxury brand to seize the unique opportunities the platform presents.
Want to find out what your brand can learn from Whispr Group’s insights on harnessing technology to stand out in fashion? Contact us below and we’ll get back in touch ASAP.