During the lockdown, the web has been of great help, so much so that 24% of luxury sales were made by first-time online shoppers. Among the five countries analysed by the McKinsey consulting firm, Italy had the highest percentage of customers who were very satisfied with the experience (76%, to which was added a 6% of extremely satisfied consumers). So, according to the study, a percentage of shoppers are expected to increasingly use digital and non-digital channels even when stores reopen. “The e-shopping platforms played an important role in keeping interest alive in this sector and will continue to do so even after the emergency is over,” explained Antonio Achille, McKinsey’s Senior Partner and Global Head of Luxury. And according to Matteo Zanin, partner of the same company, buyers will privilege brands that offer traceability and reliability in terms of materials, hygienic safety and origin. Moreover, in the ‘next normal’ they will become more loyal to brands that met their expectations during the crisis. “The use of e-commerce will become more and more predominant, also in mixed forms such as click & collect (where items are ordered online and picked up in-store, as Sephora has already been doing successfully for years) or the drive-through (for example, Decadrive, a service offered by the French chain Decathlon that allows customers to order online and pick up in a dedicated parking spot at the store without getting out of their car),” explains Giulio Finzi, Senior Partner of Netcomm. “The success of digital will also change the way a brand communicates, which will go from focusing on the product to expressing the values of the company, without neglecting the social commitment that today takes on a whole new role. That’s why I expect new marketing campaigns, which also include a different use of media, from social to digital to more traditional channels.”
“The Lyst Index for the first quarter of 2020 showed that consumer loyalty to prestige brands remains strong even in these uncertain times, but the way people interact with brands and shop is changing fast,” explains Chris Morton, co-founder and CEO of the online boutique aggregator LYST. “The Covid-19 crisis is accelerating changes that were already happening in our industry and is catalysing further new ones. In this unprecedented period, digital is becoming fundamentally important for fashion houses. Information and communication are key elements for our community. Those who adapt more quickly to scenarios, making decisions based on data and relying on their own strengths, will have better chances of growth.” Nicola Antonelli, Chief Marketing Officer of Luisaviaroma agrees, “This dramatic period has created market opportunities that only the most innovative companies have been able to seize. I believe, however, that online shopping will not change significantly, but the number of customers who choose the online shopping channel over the offline channel will increase (and in fact has already grown significantly).
But which have been the most desired products during the lockdown?
In these last few months, Luisaviaroma.com saw an increase in the sale of activewear, comfortable garments ideal for staying at home and maybe doing some exercise. At the top of the list were “classic” brands such as Nike, Adidas, Reebok.
Celenie Seidel, Senior Womenswear Editor of Farfetch, also confirms this trend. “In the last two months we have noticed a growing demand for loungewear and athletic wear, which obviously reflects the change in pace and lifestyle experienced at an international level. Luxury homeware was already an expanding category on Farfetch and the appetite for these products has undeniably grown recently – candles have been particularly popular. For many consumers, it has become even more important to create a home environment that reflects their personality and is a source of comfort.” As for the summer 2020 trends, according to the Senior Womenswear Editor, we will see a real celebration of fashion and the joy of dressing up again. “What I find most interesting at the moment is the growing interest in sustainable luxury collections as well as second-hand items. This is an important trend: consumers are more aware of the impact their shopping habits are having on the planet. In these times of economic uncertainty, many consumers are also likely to gravitate towards timeless luxury items and appreciate the hallmarks of quality and craftsmanship more than ever.” For Nicola Antonelli of Luisaviaroma, the most popular trends for the 2020 summer are certainly denim and the new minimal style, which will continue into the fall-winter collections hot on the heels of Bottega Veneta and Jil Sander. As for accessories, heeled flip flops and low-heeled sandals are all the rage, while minibags make room for soft handbags and clutches.
EXPANSION OF PLATFORMS
Meanwhile, young fashion website ASOS tried to stay close to its customers by providing new online support tools with 3D technology. This has allowed customers to accurately see what items look like in different sizes and on different body types. Moreover ASOS lauched new products by sending them home to the company’s staff, collaborators and influencers, that took pictures directly from their homes.
Alibaba has also implemented a new 3D shopping function, which gives consumers a feeling of shopping in a real store, as well as augmented reality filters to test makeup and hairstyles, customised tips and video games to engage consumers. Daniel Zhang, Chairman and CEO of Alibaba, Tmall and Tmall Luxury Pavilion, said he noticed a growing trend towards “revenge buying”. To make up for time lost in lockdown, Chinese consumers are indulging in the purchase of luxury items. Specifically, Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion (launched in 2017 and only by invitation) reported record-level participation for its 5.20 sales campaign on 20 May, an unofficial romantic holiday that is celebrated in China (the date sounds like "I love you” in Mandarin). More than 150 premium brands debuted 5,000 new products with some exclusive launches by fashion houses hosted on the platform (including Chanel, Valentino, Burberry and Bottega Veneta, Cartier, Bulgari, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander Wang, Prada and Tom Ford). And last April, Alibaba opened the Luxury Soho platform aimed at value-conscious luxury shoppers. Christina Fontana, head of Tmall Fashion and Luxury in Europe, explained in a statement how this is a response to the need for fashion brands to be able to efficiently manage their inventory and stock. A strategy that already seems to be successful in terms of numbers (both Coach and Moschino sold out in a very short time) and that shows how the Group is trying to maximise the life cycle of products (from previous seasons or heritage), with communication aimed at new consumers or young Gen Z buyers who are now entering the luxury world.