Dreams and the reality
Conventional wisdom holds that every luxury purchase journey begins with a fantasy. As a former BMW marketing director famously said: “It is my job to make sure that all young Americans over eighteen dream of a BMW before they go to sleep at night.”
But what happens next? What happens when the dream comes true, as it were, and the desire becomes reality?
For starters, it seems the happily-ever-after period is far more short-lived than one would expect. A recent study done by OgilvyOne and Millward Brown in Hong Kong revealed that nearly 50% of luxury purchases are decided in the immediate aftermath of another purchase. One of the real examples from the study was a man who bought a Rimowa suitcase after seeing his colleague coolly sauntering through the airport with one. He looked up the store location online and went to pick one up. Following the purchase he wanted to learn more about the suitcase (and why it cost so much!). He searched the brand online and watched some videos on YouTube. Fascinated by what he saw, he went out and bought his wife a suitcase of her own. As the study suggests, it was during this immediate post-buy period that he made the next purchase decision.
Regardless of whether this is true for every decision, we clearly need to recognize the consumer journey for what it is. It crosses channels, devices and locations, starting well before and lasting long after the point of purchase. And if the consumer journey is continuous, then so must be the brand’s commerce strategy.
Adopting this perspective means gaining incredibly exciting and dizzyingly fast opportunities to secure repeat buyers. But providing the kind of meaningful, on-brand and remarkable experiences that make this possible—that’s also a brand’s greatest challenge.
These experiences obviously rely heavily on digital trends. It won’t come as news to anyone that the Internet’s constant availability—from the desktop out through mobile—is crucial in nurturing dreams of luxury. However, many brands are falling short in terms of the overall experiences they provide, especially in terms of eCommerce and digital content.
This problem is often amplified on a product level. Understandably, luxury brands offering eCommerce don’t want to overexpose themselves and so only show certain things. However, when a high-end brand renowned for its handcrafted bags only shows sideline accessories, its online identity becomes at odds with its offline version. What happens when someone unfamiliar with the brand comes across them in the digital realm? They will build their idea of the brand’s identity around seemingly overpriced bracelets, ashtrays and cufflinks.
Think about it: When you go into a store, a salesperson can take one look at you and gather all sorts of information: your size, your style, your age, your gender, your character, your likely price-range… with this information, he can tailor his approach and product suggestions accordingly. Why should online, with all its data-collecting opportunities, be any different? Even more importantly, why aren’t brands collating the data from one touchpoint to another, between online and offline? Most luxury brands hamper their shopping platforms with a lack of continuity, fluidity, and quality experiences across various channels.
If, as the now-mythical BMW marketing director suggested, the luxury brand’s role is to generate dreams, then the job of Continuous Commerce™ is simple—to ensure that the dream comes true and, above all, stays true. If done badly…well, dreams are fragile things, and almost impossible to remember once you wake up.