Luxury brands continue to grapple with their evolving digital go-to-market strategies in the face of ingrained traditions, placing a premium on the in-store customer experience. But it is not a case of digital versus store. Year on year, Forrester’s consumer surveys show that luxury consumers are more digitally mature than their mainstream counterparts. They seek out and have high expectations of innovative, easy, and emotionally engaging experiences — both digitally and in-store. Luxury brands must press ahead with their efforts to retain their digitally mature, luxury consumers and connect digital and in-store experiences.
Using Forrester’s Digital Go-To-Market Review methodology, we evaluated 10 luxury jewelry and timepiece brands across attributes essential to their long-term digital success and the strength of their direct-to-consumer operations — in other words, how well they are positioned to thrive independently of retail partnerships and popular multibrand digital platforms such as Farfetch and Net-A-Porter.
Key highlights from the analysis show that higher-performing brands:
- Innovate with technology to deliver new experiences. Higher-scoring luxury brands embrace customer experience innovation, from augmented reality-based product visualization that allows customers to “virtually try on” products to enabling video-based online appointments with store-based associates. These brands are using technology to mimic, virtually, experiences that would traditionally be in person.
- Make online transactions easier. Many of the luxury brands we reviewed offer deferred payment options for customers, making their products financially accessible to a broader audience. Meanwhile, Bulgari’s partnership with 4GIFT allows customers to give gifts “virtually” and make group purchases.
- Call attention to core values. Most brands have dedicated sections on their websites outlining environmental sustainability activities. Few embed these details within the customer’s actual shopping experience. With consumers increasingly making values-based decisions, luxury brands must do more to increase the transparency of their supply chains, working practices, and sustainability efforts.
Contrasting “lowlights” include:
- Insufficient e-control. Controlling product distribution and minimizing counterfeit goods and unauthorized resales are all core to luxury brands’ ability to maintain product quality and brand exclusivity. Across the brands we assessed, however, most must do more when it comes to e-control. Many need better counterfeit information and more clarity on authorized resellers across traditional and digital-only retail partners. Several brands also continue to have issues with unauthorized resellers popping up on loosely governed internet marketplaces.
- “Buyability” issues. The lowest-scoring brands didn’t sell products online at all. On top of this, they often lacked any other immediate call to action such as click-to-call or the ability to book appointments online. Too many luxury brands are inconsistent in terms of displaying prices and allowing customers to buy online, making it difficult for qualified, interested customers to connect with and purchase from them.
The precedent has long been set: Online luxury sales work. And brands such as Bulgari are moving the goalposts further by not limiting the value of goods that can be purchased online (based on our reviews, apart from high-end jewelry, all products were available to purchase online regardless of price). Luxury brands have lofty objectives. But many still need to address foundational aspects of digital commerce capabilities and digital user experience.
If you’d like to learn more, please take a look at our latest report, Digital Go-To-Market Review: Luxury Jewelry And Timepiece Brands. Do reach out if you have any questions or would like to know how we can help you and your brand tackle your priorities.