We know that luxury goods are rarely just about the product. Of course, the luxury consumer wants good design, craftsmanship and high quality. But they pay a premium for something more than that – status.
This in itself requires ongoing study, since the values that define ‘status’ are constantly shifting. As consumers reprioritise what they value the most, the concept of luxury changes and luxury retailers need to adapt in order to stay relevant.
One retailer showing us how it should be done is Harvey Nichols.
Harvey Nichols has always had its own playful point of view on luxury, you only need to look back at previous campaigns to see this.
Now, more than ever, it’s taking its point of view on luxury to the next level - whether that be nailing the ‘third wave’ (the magical place where e-commerce meets brick and mortar retailing) delivering experiential luxuries or being the first to offer up cool new products.
Here are three ways Harvey Nichols captures the concept of ‘New Luxury’ brilliantly.
1. Personalised Online Shopping Experiences
Fast-fashion retail thrives online; low-cost, speedy delivery and easy returns – the holy trinity. Meanwhile, luxury retailers haven’t quite yet found a way to connect with consumers and convert browsing into sales in the same way they do in-store.
Whether shopping online or ‘IRL’, a personalised, one-to-one experience is essential for luxury consumers. To build an online offering that matches their in-store experience, Harvey Nichols enlisted the help of global retail tech company ‘Hero’ to ‘create a seamless shopping experience’ called AskHN.
AskHN connects online shoppers with in-store stylists, enabling shoppers to get advice on any style SOS, from what to wear to an interview and how to style your favourite wardrobe pieces, to photos of the latest collections and sizing information. AskHN also allows online users to contact other departments such as beauty, for skincare advice or to the food and wine team for culinary queries.
Store staff have the ability to send pictures, live stream from the shop floor and send product recommendations, just as they would in real life, building one-to-one relationships with valued customers.
2. Giving Old Items New Life
Luxury consumers are developing more sustainable relationships with their clothing and accessories, seeking out services that prolong the life of the garment and re-create their original state.
Harvey Nichols has enlisted the help of ‘The Restory’, a high-end repairs service, now available in-store. Catering to time-pressed customers, The Restory has set up a drop-off station, where guests can deliver their items – such as worn leather handbags or scuffed shoes – to any member of staff in the accessories or shoe department.
After paint touch-ups, polishing and stain removal, The Restory will wrap and ship the item to the customer’s chosen destination, be it their home or back to the store for collection.
The desire for high-end repair and restoration services is by no means restricted to luxury consumers in the West. Master Bao, established in 2016 by Nalan Zhengxiu has accumulated more than 220,000 registered users, including customers from 23 top-tier cities in China.
A report recently released by McKinsey & Co suggests that Chinese customers spent more than 500 billion RMB on luxury items in 2017 and that this consumption will reach one trillion RMB by 2025.
For Nalan Zhengxiu, this translates into a huge opportunity. “The trillion RMB sales market would generate an after-sales market worth hundreds of billions [of RMB],” said Nalan. A figure difficult to ignore.
3. Cool, Curated and On-Trend
Harvey Nichols stays in-tune with what today’s luxury consumers are turning their interests to; offering them the first in tomorrow’s trends. Whether that be launching a mind-blowing vegan menu, or hosting a series of wellness brunches.
This month, Harvey Nichols continues to look forward, becoming the first retailer to stock cannabis-infused skincare.
Once the preserve of the anti-establishment, CBD oil has recently been given a sophisticated make-over courtesy of the beauty and wellness industries. The MGC Derma’s CBD-oil-infused skincare range is just one of many wellness trends Harvey Nichols offers customers.
Consumers are increasingly looking towards wellness as an expression of their personal values, similar to the way they might have looked to fashion or cosmetics five or ten years ago.
SEEN is compiled by LOVE’s Head of Culture, Kat Towers. Want to say hello, ask questions or challenge her cultural knowledge? Get in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org