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The Luxury View Wealth-X World of Luxury


The launch of the Apple Watch has catapulted wearable technology even more into the spotlight – but what are luxury brands doing to embrace technology?


T


he profile of the luxury consumer is constantly evolving and it is ever difficult to stereotype any kind of end-user really.


The rise of the millennial generation is also making it harder for luxury brands, retailers and service providers to accurately predict purchasing habits and tailor their services. According to research by Goldman Sachs, the millennial generation – individuals born between 1980 and 2000 – has reached 92 million in the US, the biggest in that country’s history. This generation of individuals has grown up with technology and is constantly connected, often through a multitude of devices. Their other commonalities include the focus on health, general wellbeing and the need to seek luxury experiences instead of just making tangible and “obvious” luxury purchases.


Wearables and luxury In order to meet the needs of these potential new luxury consumers, brands are increasingly seeking new ways to integrate technology into their supply chain, which is an essential investment if brands and companies want to grow. We are now living in a “smart” era and luxury


brands across all sectors must learn to integrate and adapt technology to improve their product offering to stay relevant. Yet according to recent data released by L2, 62% of luxury hotel brands are still lacking either a mobile site or a mobile app. According to the WTM Global Trends


Report 2014, wearable technology will be a mainstream consumer product by 2016 and wearable internet-connected devices are expected to rise from nine million units sold globally in 2013 to a forecast 180 million in 2016. This rapid growth in wearables is one example of the changing tastes of today’s consumer. As sales of devices increase, luxury brands are increasingly aligning themselves through collaborations with tech firms to take advantage of this rapidly growing market. For example, Tory Burch and Fitbit collaborated to turn the Fitbit Flex tracker into a super-chic accessory by the designer (pictured, centre, along with Apple Watch, top). Within the travel sector, using wearable


technology to enable contactless payments, automatic check-in processes and keyless rooms


are just a few select ways in which the travel industry is aligning itself with technology to make the process as seamless and convenient as possible for travellers.


Obstacle or opportunity? With the launch of the Apple Watch, it is hotly debated whether or not traditional luxury brands should be concerned. In our opinion, the Apple Watch will predominately be a threat to the lower end of the Swiss watch spectrum (less than £140), which primarily consists of quartz watches. The ultra-luxury category of mechanical watches (upwards towards £2,000) will not be so affected by the rise of


smartwatches such as Apple and Samsung’s models. A luxury watch is still considered a piece of jewellery and we believe that consumers will continue to seek such classical timepieces. However, this is not to say that traditional watch


brands are not experimenting with this technology too. Frederique Constant’s Horological Smartwatch retains a clearly classical style in terms of design with analog dials but also offers wearers a variety of functions, powered by MotionX, such as activity and sleep tracking. Similarly, Tag Heuer’s partnership with Google and Intel to build an Android Wear-powered smartwatch is a starting point for more joint ventures in the luxury and


technology space. The luxury industry needs to be


receptive to technology to gain awareness and traction with modern consumers, whilst still holding onto historical ties to tradition and service. Brands should use technology to their advantage and see advances in the field as means of reaching new consumers, improving CRM systems and developing new products. All of which can only help them enhance their footprint within the sector.


Need to know


Ledbury Research was acquired in late February 2015 by Wealth-X, the global authority on wealth intelligence, providing sales, marketing, strategy and compliance solutions to clients in the financial services, luxury, not-for-profit and education sectors.


For more information on Wealth-X, please contact: James Cross (jcross@wealthx.com) Tel: 020 7078 1900, wealthx.com


BUSINESS OF TRAVEL  SUMMER 2015  TTGLUXURY.COM  23


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