April 07, 2020

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Luxury brands have perfected digital campaigning – now they must transform internally - The Drum

The sports, street wear and luxury sectors may have come a bit late to the digital game, but in recent years they’ve led and accelerated incredible content and digital applications such as personalisation. Their impact has exploded when they’ve intersected – think Louis Vuitton’s Supreme collection, and the brand’s recent partnership with League of Legends.

These influential brands in the passion areas of fashion, music, and art have always had license to experiment.

They’ve created multimedia campaigns (think Nike Londoner and Adidas Football) that have worked across multidisciplinary applications. They’ve produced such AR experiences in retail outlets from Selfridges in London to The Ghost House in Tokyo, not to mention cracking the code of social commerce to make it feel special.

We have seen completely new, digital-only genre evolutions such as esports. We’ve seen the rise of curated magazine-meets-concept-stores such as Semaine. And we’ve seen the emergence of cross-cultural digital platforms such as Twitch.

With recent studies by McKinsey showing that 80% of sales are influenced by online activity, it’s an exciting time for these brands and marketers.

Innovation departments attached to large traditional companies are investing in the future of their categories and industries, with a clear understanding that connected living – with devices that predict consumer needs – is how things are moving in our tech-driven world. Long may it continue.

However, the ‘internal’ digital transformation workstream (for me, one of the most important ones), has quickly became deprioritized as big brands and companies have realized the upheaval true digital transformation will cause.

They have to ask: is your workforce mobile, agile and flexible? Can they easily be supported to work remotely, collaboratively and seamlessly?

How do you scale up, pivot or switch down while keeping critical information flowing in an instant to ensure that your business doesn’t collapse? Within marketing and communications, do you have the right people and agency partners to respond in real time to ensure projects and plans are not completely derailed, and to plan ahead aligned with all other relevant departments?

And for brands, especially in fashion, reducing impact on the environment is the task. The industry’s relentless production and travel schedule needs to be addressed.

But in spite of the internal frustrations, digitizing in this realm can make a massive difference to both brand value and the bottom line: a study from Nielsen highlighted that 73% of millennial respondents were willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable or socially conscious label.

Tommy Hilfiger has recently announced it will only use 3D design to create, develop and sell samples from its spring 2022 apparel collections onward, while Stella McCartney recently launched a sustainable Loop sneaker that is glue-free and recyclable.

If anything is going to act as a catalyst for transformation, it’s the coronavirus pandemic.

In fact, 94% of the Fortune 1000 are already seeing Covid-19 disruptions, and independents, small businesses and freelancers are hugely impacted.

Brands need to be creative and flexible, taking the lead from the postponed Shanghai Fashion Week.

Organizers are going to live-stream the entire roster of shows through Tmall, Alibaba Group’s e-commerce platform, in a new ‘see now, buy now’ format, where 800 million monthly active users can buy or pre-order.

I believe success for fashion, sportswear, and luxury businesses depends on the speed at which their entire business responds, flexes, pivots and adapts to changes in the short, medium and long term.

We live in a digital – and after coronavirus, a changed – world. Even the phrase ‘digital transformation’ itself demands an evolution to, simply, transformation.

Leila Fataar is the founder of Platform13

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