MONTE CARLO — Discerning, demanding and younger: These are consumers the luxury goods sector will have to address once the global economy recovers from the downturn.
That is the view emerging from industry titans, including Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury goods company, and Angela Ahrendts, chief executive officer of Burberry.
Arnault said these post-recovery customers will place a particular emphasis on values like quality and craftsmanship, but also exclusivity and commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
“Nothing will be the same again. It would be illusory to think it will be the same again,” he said, speaking at the Financial Times’ Business of Luxury Summit here.
Unlike during the boom years, the luxury consumers of the future will be less inclined toward the ephemeral, and will want to own exclusive items of outstanding quality. What’s more, he said, this trend will spread across continents, narrowing the difference between consumption in the developed and developing countries.
“In the most developed countries, customers will want exceptional brands,” he said, noting that “in developing countries, customers will increasingly adopt the consumption models of developed countries.” Arnault’s forecasts seem to vindicate the strategy pursued by LVMH over the years.
Unlike some luxury retailers — which last year slashed prices in the run-up to Christmas in fear of a negative season — LVMH’s flagship brand Louis Vuitton has a policy of no markdowns to preserve its prestige and value status.
And while the industry has shown an uneasy approach toward e-commerce, Arnault has pointed at its increasing importance as a marketing channel to reach out to new, younger customers, even though it’s a tool that poses some risks for the industry, as witnessed by the booming trade of counterfeit items on Internet sites. LVMH has been slow to roll out e-commerce to its brand’s Web sites for that reason, and has been vigorous in taking legal action against sites such as eBay that sell LVMH products, many of which it claims are counterfeit.
“I don’t want to stop the Internet. I want to use it efficiently to develop the growth of brands, but in a safe way,” Arnault said.
Targeting younger, technologically savvy customers is also a priority for Burberry’s Ahrendts. Today’s twentysomethings — or Millennials — who are active users of the Internet through social networking sites and aren’t as easily influenced by the traditional media as previous generations, are fast becoming the core customers of luxury brands, edging away aging Baby Boomers, Ahrendts said.
As a result, she has sought to make them part of the company on purpose.
“Millennials are a significant part of Burberry today,” she said. “They are designers, the public face in advertising campaigns and store staff. They are resonating with core consumers.”
The company recently named 19-year-old British actress Emma Watson, who stars in the “Harry Potter” movie series, as its newest face, joining models Kate Moss and Agyness Deyn.
The new focus on younger generations isn’t just a branding exercise as the industry tries to shrug off the severe economic downturn, but a necessity, as highlighted by economists at the conference.
“We are an aging society, we should care about consumption in 2020,” said Norbert Walter, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Group.
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)