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The digital landscape is constantly evolving. In the new normal of Covid-19, marketers are having to keep up and stay ahead of the curve, in a world that has gone fully digital, not by design but by necessity. In this new world, marketeers must innovate with new luxury marketing digital strategies to stay one step ahead of their competition. 

As more and more companies across the globe adopt digital technologies, both internally and externally, the online world is becoming ever more pivotal to the way people work, rest and play. Internally companies are transitioning to protect their employees and ensure business continuity, but externally, they’re having to adjust their business models, selling strategies and customer service processes too. A recent survey revealed that digital acquisition has already hit the level it was expected to reach in 2025. In fact, this figure was achieved just weeks after the start of the pandemic.

With this unparalleled acceleration of online usage has come a myriad of exciting innovations in luxury marketing. Digital is now key, more than ever, and the luxury sector is being particularly smart about it. Here, we look at five of the most innovative digital marketing trends to watch in 2020.

Discover five new cutting-edge ideas from the year so far.

Going local

By the very nature of the term pandemic, COVID-19 is a global disaster with a paradoxical sting in its tail. A completely global event, the coronavirus has reduced most people’s worlds to a very small space, limiting how far they can travel and in many cases, reducing people’s regular commute from their beds to their dining room tables. In a global pandemic, we are suddenly focused on the very local world around us.

And as we become more locally-orientated, brands must understand this shift, and change the way they target customers too, particularly in the field of targeted digital advertising. Companies should be looking to target their audience at home rather than on their commute to and from work, or whilst they’re on holiday. But the messaging also has to change, taking into account the shift in lifestyle, the radius of businesses users will be able to reach, and the way they consume digital - with a shift back from mobile to desktop.

For example, Italian fashion house Gucci took to Instagram in May to share notes from the diary of Alessandro Michele, the brand’s Creative Director, written during the months of the pandemic. Titled Appunti Dal Silenzio, or Notes from the Silence, took a step away from its usual high fashion posts to offer a more humble, relatable voice, posting in the original Italian first before following later with English translations. These posts were more wordy than the brand’s typical Instagram content, showing an awareness that many would be accessing them on a computer.

Product-driven live streaming

One of our favourite digital marketing trends to watch in 2020 is already hugely popular in Asia, and with good reason. Live-streaming is essentially live-stream shopping, allowing luxury brands to reach a large audience with in-store experiences.

Since 2018, live-stream video shopping has generated $4.4bn for mostly Chinese markets with a staggering 560m users, or 62% of the country’s total internet users, logging on to a live-stream this year. The Covid-19 crisis saw this strategy truly flourish in the luxury market.

Luxury brands such as Burberry began to experiment, with staggering results. The iconic British fashion house invited Chinese fashion guru and key opinion leader Yvonne Ching to its Jing’an store in Shanghai, where her experience was live-streamed on Chinese online marketplace Tmall. Her appearance on the Chinese B2C online retail platform had 1.4m views, and within the hour, the majority of the products featured on the live-stream were sold.

“We have seen a clear shift in customer behaviors in China over the past couple of months, and we are delighted that we could connect with so many customers during the Burberry livestreaming on Tmall,” Josie Zhang, President of Burberry China, said in her introduction. “Customers are craving newness, and the livestreaming is a safe and exciting way for us to deliver exactly that, especially at a time where some customers are not able to join us in stores.”

Increased personalisation

Relationships between luxury brands and their customers have become more important than ever, in the new normal. As real-life exchanges are swapped for digital ones, brands have an obligation and a unique opportunity to connect directly with customers, and strike up long-lasting relationships. This is achieved through increased personalisation.

This simple, yet brilliant luxury marketing digital strategy ensures that the unique needs and preferences of customers are taken into account so that they are ultimately presented with the right product at the right time. In doing this, luxury brands will have a better chance of creating a meaningful interaction with their audience, which will, in turn, lead to more conversions.

Just as customers like the personal touch in a restaurant, shop or hotel, they also like to receive personalised recommendations and offers online, if even the pay-off is sharing personal data. A great mass-market example of successful personalisation is Amazon, which has been using data collecting software to recommend products and prompt customers to buy them for more than five years. In the luxury industry, we can look to brands like luxury British homeware designer Neptune, which offers private virtual tours of its showrooms, plus one-on-one video calls with its specialists where the prospective client shares all their design loves, allowing the brand to cater more specifically to them as their relationship develops.

Interactive social ads

Without doubt one of the most effective digital marketing trends to watch in 2020 is the use of interactive social ads, which have grown enormously in popularity over recent years.

It is fair to say that digital ads have been slowly but surely replacing traditional forms of advertising for the last couple of years, but COVID-19 has seriously sped up the shift from expensive, un-environmentally-friendly billboards, to online advertising.

Digital ads leave less paper waste, can be accessed literally anywhere, and when created with the help of artificial intelligence and interactive content, can be incredibly persuasive to the end-user. So, it is little surprise that they are taking the luxury world by storm. One great recent example of this is a social campaign run by luxury car manufacturer Bentley at the end of May, which utilised 360° content to allow the user to virtually explore the brand’s new Flying Spur model.

The shift towards the Asian market

If the first of our digital marketing trends to watch in 2020 was to think local, our last is to look at the wider picture, and tailor more luxury goods to the Asian markets.

China is the world’s biggest consumer of luxury products, making up a third of global spend on luxury goods in 2018. This figure had increased to 90 % in 2019.  China was also the first country to go into lockdown, and the first to re-emerge from Covid-19 confinement.

And whilst Global Web Index figures from April, when China was just beginning to emerge from the pandemic, show 31% of Chinese still holding off from buying luxury goods, 7% said these products were a priority for them after the outbreak. In contrast, the percentage of Americans who planned to prioritise luxury spending was just 2 % whilst in Italy, it was 1%. France did not even make the board.

Whilst it is clear that COVID-19 has impacted the appetite for luxury goods dramatically, it has not had such a great impact on Chinese consumers, making targeting this market a smart step for many companies.

That concludes the most exciting luxury digital marketing trends to watch in 2020 - to discuss them in more detail, please get in touch with my team at Relevance.

Rumble Romagnoli, CEO at Relevance.