Redefining Luxury: The Future of Luxury Retail

In today’s hyper-connected world consumers place a premium on personalized brand experiences, forever changing the landscape of retail. From boutique brands that are expanding their customer base and strengthening brand loyalty through in-store events and loyalty programs, to big-box retailers that are connecting at the local level through Pop Ups, major transformations are being led by retailers of every denomination. Most surprisingly are the changes being made at the luxury level.

Throwing tradition aside, best-in-show luxury retailers are adapting their brands to reflect the cultural influences and tastes of the modern shopper. In her recent article, “Luxury Branding: New Creative Expressions for New Retail Futures”, Sophie Mawell of Branding Magazine defines the 5 principles that guide luxury retail today:

1. Build on luxury DNA to inspire true innovation

According to Maxwell, “Defined and differentiating brand equity is essential in increasingly crowded categories. In many cases brands now extend far beyond their core expertise by innovating into new areas meaning that establishing core DNA…”

One brand that has done an exceptional job of securing a unique position in the marketplace is Burberry. “Burberry has consistently built upon its original equity in outerwear while developing new equity with a strong connection to technology-driven innovation, and has made this a defining and integral part of the product and retail experience.”

This emphasis on technology, while still producing brand staples like outerwear, allows Burberry to adapt without alienating consumers.

2. Create luxury experiences that draw on their locality

Brands that aim for global reach must understand that the same message does not translate across all regions, and all consumers. In order to take their brand to the masses, the modern retailer must incorporate a localized approach:

“…brands are finding ways to embed themselves into the local environment by understanding, adapting and appreciating the character and history of individual locations, weaving aspects of it into how the brand is shaped, experienced and understood. Brands such as Pernord Ricard’s Our/Vodka, produced in cities across the globe, allows each location’s distiller to give the vodka an individual, locally and culturally inspired twist.”

Another example of a global brand appealing to a local audience is Starbucks and its unbranded “local” cafe openings. These stealth cafes are owned and operated by Starbucks yet appear to be local in their origin, allowing the coffee giant to gain traction at the local level.

3. Reframe the narrative of the luxury experience

While curated retail has been happening for some time, brands are now evolving the concept to include “multi-sensory and interactive experiences.”

Citing Porsches’ recent “Sound of Porsche” Pop Up in which shoppers were able take a virtual drive, Maxwell goes on to explain that, “Physical retail spaces are evolving into showcases and showrooms that let us ‘reframe’ how we understand the brand, and letting us see them in a new context and imagine them as part of our everyday life.”

4. Meet the desire for the luxury of personalized experiences 

According to Maxwell, “Retailers are increasingly giving their audience creative control, allowing them to influence and shape their purchases.”

Personalization reigns supreme, with consumers placing a premium on the ability to customize and define their own purchases.  Westfield retailer Shoes of Prey, is a prime example of this with their 3D iPad-based program that allows shoppers to design their own shoes, choosing from over 170 materials and styles.

5. Change the dynamic of the luxury brand journey

The modern consumer seeks both transparency and connection, principles that had little merit in retail of yesteryear. According to Maxwell, “Consumers now want to connect on a deeper level, becoming part of the entire brand journey and seeking more sustainable experiences.”

Women’s fashion retailer Reformation is an ideal example of this with their use of social media to connect with their consumer base and inform them of their sustainable practices, thus building trust and loyalty.

The Takeaway

Today’s modern retailer, whether boutique or luxury, must adapt their brand to incorporate personalized and unique experiences. Shoppers are increasingly informed and connected making transparency an essential part of any brand identity.

Interested in expanding your consumer base or redefining your existing brand, try a Pop Up or microstore with Westfield Mall Retail. Connect with our team of expert leasing agents to find the location that’s right for you. 


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