Made to Measure: East versus West

In order to be Irreplaceable, one must always be different. - Coco Chanel

The Fashion Industry, which is hinged on the idea of personalised style, with the domination of luxury conglomerates such as LVMH Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton, Kering Group, Inditex SA, etc. is seeing a shift in paradigm from niche and exclusive luxury towards mass and accessible luxury. What then, does this mean for the Luxury Consumer of today?

The luxury consumer is now more than ever seeking for a little extra, for a little personalisation, from every avenue, whether that is through experience, products or service. The need for exclusivity is leading brands towards adding customisation in to their marketing mix, to capture and keep a larger luxury audience.

With the emerging economies opening up to luxury giants, and brands moving in to gain strong footholds in global markets such as the Middle East, Asia and India, to name but a few, more and more brands are turning towards customisation to give an authentic luxury experience. The idea of personalised luxury to build a strong relation between a brand and its consumers is gaining a lot of popularity.

Customisation broadly works in two ways, when we are speaking about it in terms of breaking into a new market or on a global scale; you have the ‘Made In’ which focuses on the country of origin in terms of design and production of products or even through values and inspiration attached to products of a collection. To elaborate on this take Prada for instance, it is one such brand that is moving towards its cultural values, Trussardi another Milanese brand is going back to its italian family roots, Dolce and Gabbana gives a piece of Sicily in every collection they make. Aside from some of the European brands you have a slew of American Brands which focus on the country of origin in the design phase of their fashion lines and while branding themselves, for example Ralph Lauren, a complete All - American brand, Diane Von Furstenburg which focuses on the American dream and then you have Kate Spade, much of who’s inspiration comes from American Pop Culture. Therefore, it is safe to say that culturally customising a fashion brand garners a great deal of approval in the minds of consumers.

On the opposite end of the spectrum you have the ‘Made For’ philosophy where brands make a collection especially for a country, inspired of a country, or tweak their campaigns when entering a country. Take Moet and Hennesy for example, recognising the importance of wedding and festival seasons in India as big spending periods, they created special wedding menus to go with the wines and spirits purchased by their customers. These brands point a spotlight on certain collections as a sort of ‘festival favourites’, Jimmy Choo created an entire line for the Indian Bride, knowing the ostentatious tastes of Indian weddings and it was met with a very positive response within the market.

Customisation as a concept, isn’t limited to just the design and the manufacturing phase of the products, it can be seen as extended into the communication and the marketing thereafter, for example Dior, which took a bold move when entering into the Indian market by choosing a socialite and not a celebrity as the face of Dior. What this move achieved for the brand was far more profitable than a regular campaign as it opened doors for them, ushering in the right luxury consumer target.

Take a look at the Asian market, the new luxury consumers are experiencing the phenomenon of logo fatigue, indicating towards a matured luxury palate. The previous generation of luxury consumers from the Asian Region went for logo visibility, for Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags and the distinctive Burberry checks, the present scenario is quite different, pointing towards a more discrete taste, consumers are finding greater appeal in the subtle Saint Laurent Paris collection, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga collections, fashion brands all of who have a more quieter take on brand discernibility, therefore using their insights in creating collections, they are taking into account the luxury values of the second largest luxury market in the world i.e. Asia.

Another distinctive factor of the Asian luxury landscape, is their love for tech-savvy brands, the Burberry ‘Click and Collect’ campaign, for example, met with massive popularity in Asia, the campaign allowed customers to make online purchases which they could then collect in store. Burberry not only became a brand that created a smoother brand experience but it also customised the service aspect of the retail experience. This is a perfect example of Experiential Customisation, through which fashion brand work on personalising the complete brand experience across numerous touch points.

To conclude, in the present day scenario, there is an incredible scope for luxury fashion houses and brands to be innovative and original in ways that they can customise and personalise the entire brand experience for their loyal consumers, whether that is by focusing on products, communications, service, after sale service, etc. The possibilities are innumerable and those who take advantage of these will find greater success in new markets as well as mature ones.

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