Industry Research

How Luxury Brands Can Handle Technology Disruption

Posted on March 3, 2015 by Sara Eastwood-McLean - Also by this author

Many of us can remember the International LCT Show from 10 years ago, and how dramatically technology has changed the business world since then. Just think of the journey from Blackberrys to the iPhone 6.
As we can see with our industry technology vendors, the past decade has brought the most innovative time in the history of technology. Technology is disrupting every industry, including ours. Everyone and everything is connected by mobile devices and social media, which put thousands of apps at our fingertips. It’s real time, all the time. This has created a sea of data and distraction, unlike anything that ever existed.

Just since 2013 (eons in tech time), about 90% of the world’s data has been created. The cloud, social media and mobile technologies are transforming business models and consumer behavior, as we see more and more limousine services join the app world. Customers interact with brands more often and in deeper ways with each passing day. To succeed in this new business environment, companies have recognized the need to turn to technologies and related services native to this new social, mobile, and connected world.

To keep your customers and grow, luxury product makers and services must listen more closely to their customers and adapt to ever-changing and ever-increasing needs and wants. To succeed in this always-on world with multiplying channels, companies should be ready to sell high-quality service and engage with clients at any time, in any place, and on any device. I would wager that the vast majority of your clients are looking down at a tablet or smartphone when they get into the back of your vehicles, and are ignoring the newspapers and magazines in the back pockets.

In our luxury brand space, companies such as Ritz-Carlton, Chanel and Rolex, to name a few, have long emphasized touch points — the many critical moments when customers interact with the organization and its offerings on their way to purchase and thereafter. But the narrow focus on maximizing satisfaction at those moments can create a distorted picture, suggesting customers are happier with the brand overall than we realize. It also diverts attention from the bigger — and more important — picture: the customer’s end-to-end journey. Customers demand more depth, emotion, and personality from companies today. As a result, it seems every brand is trying to be a human brand, but few get it right.

While creating digital brand awareness and adapting to consumer preferences is a priority in marketing luxury brands, high-end service companies now realize that the brand experience must be consistent across the multi-channel journey. You’ll get more loyal clients if you create a memorable customer experience with flawless service and interactions, whether online or in person.

That is a hard reality, which sounds easier than actually doing it. Technology helps and opens up opportunities, but it’s up to you to close the loop with client convenience and access to more choices. A disruptive technology can build newer, stronger client relationships. Instead of always talking with the same reservationist, a client can choose to access an easy app with social media options, and stay just as devoted to your brand. Of course, in a luxury world, the friendly live reservationist should remain an option as well.

You will need to decide which side of the tech divide you plan to do business. For the cutting-edgers, evaluate every piece of your company that the client sees, hears and feels. Adapt to all technology — social, cloud and mobile to reinforce your brand, to drive new business and to hold tight to your clients.

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