How Chinese luxury brands rode out the storm with digital experiences

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world, luxury brands are faced with unprecedented challenges.

From disrupted supply chains to production halts and plunging sales, they can no longer rest in the comfort of what used to be a niche, profitable market – few people tend to buy luxury goods in a crisis, it seems.

But these brands have proven time and again that they are capable of reinvention under pressure, and can even come out the other side stronger. With China showing clear signs of recovery, we can look to how certain luxury brands in the market turned to innovative digital strategies to help them ride out the storm.

Interactive WeChat pop-ups

Lockdown measures had forced brands to turn towards e-commerce platforms – especially WeChat – to drive sales.

Louis Vuitton and Prada have omnichannel platforms that incentivize customers and make it easy for sales associates to communicate with them, giving customers the same, personalized in-store experience. According to Prada, this had a bigger commercial impact than WeChat ads.

Louis Vuitton took it a step further by having its first show ‘re-see’, where Chinese celebrities such as Liu Haoran and Dilireba share their show experience and personal favorites with customers, and these products proceeded to become bestsellers.

Exclusivity and prestige are what keeps customers coming for luxury items, and Louis Vuitton did so by sliding in teasers of their upcoming products into re-see sessions, further driving sales.

Finally, getting customer information (such as WeChat accounts and phone numbers) allowed the brand to be in touch with customers.

John Schnobrich
Photo: John Schnobrich

Ride the Shoppertainment wave

British luxury brand Burberry took full advantage of the shoppertainment movement when customers couldn’t make it into physical stores.

Live-streaming brought in the cash – the brand recently had influencer Yvonne Ching live-stream her Burberry experience on Tmall, which garnered over 1.4 million views, and most of the featured products were sold out.

Shanghai-based homegrown brand Icicle also relied heavily on live streaming, but did it across various platforms, including TikTok, with each session raking in an average of US $71,000.

 Boundary-pushing VR and AR

2020 is the year of VR/AR, and brands are utilizing it to deliver a fully-immersive experiences to customers.

Parisian fashion house Lanvin partnered up with Chinese video platforms Douyin, Yizhibo, iQiyi, and luxury e-commerce platform Secoo to broadcast it’s Paris fashion show, where the audience gets to have a front-row view with VR.

Fashion bloggers were invited to live-stream behind the scenes action, garnering the hashtag #lavin over 5 million views.

Riding on this success, the brand went ahead and built a VR flagship where customers could shop virtually by connecting with local sales associates via WeChat.

Burberry too has been having its hand at AR, and had already ran a few VR campaigns pre-pandemic.

Not too long ago it collaborated with Google to launch an AR shopping tool where, through their smartphones, customers can see products at scale in their respective environments.

The virus might seem like a retail apocalypse, but underneath the gloom and doom, it has actually been a catalyst for brands to refine online and omnichannel strategies.

Luxury consumers are accustomed to high standards of service in stores, so emphasis was placed on using digital to create personalized experiences of equal quality.

Author: Emily Wong, Tech Wire Asia