Customer experience represents a major issue for all brands and retailers, as it is often at the top of the list of decisive criteria for consumers. Customers are becoming increasingly difficult. All relationships between a brand and its customers need to be worked out in detail so that the overall perception is excellent, beyond expectations.
In the luxury sector, more than in any other, customers are more than demanding. They want an experience that is out of the ordinary and out of time, something extraordinary that they will remember for a long time. Many solutions exist to reenchant their journey. We will look more specifically at the case of the dematerialised gift card, a relevant experiential tool in the luxury sector.
The challenge of experience for luxury
Experience is more important than products
The luxury sector is undergoing the same changes as other sectors. Yes, affluent consumers follow significantly the same expectations as others, but to a different degree. This market is no longer satisfied with its products. For a long time, when we talked about luxury houses, we thought directly of extravagant products. Now, you have to think about experience. Experiential luxury is overtaking material luxury, with a 50% higher growth. This is something that brands need to build on to grow their business. Customers in this sector are indeed actively seeking fabulous and unique branded experiences. Products and their qualities still matter but they are part of a bigger experience. And with the arrival of digital, this is happening both online and offline. Many luxury consumers have even become true Internet enthusiasts and have integrated it into their purchasing process, especially the population of tomorrow: millennials. This generation Y is also the one that has instilled these new desires of experiences. 94% of them are always looking for something special to experience and for 76% spending money on experiences is more interesting than spending it on products. A motivation that is reminiscent of the collaborative economy, where sharing and use are more important than possession.
How to create a truly engaging experience ?
Success requires an experience that engages consumers in a lasting relationship with the brand. To do this, luxury houses must know and anticipate their customers’ needs. To achieve engagement, they must even go beyond expectations, for optimal consumer satisfaction. More specifically, this requires coordination between each channel and each point of contact with customers. The brand will have to control its database in order to be able to offer totally personalized journeys, whether online or in physical points.
It needs to create an overall experience that revolves around the brand’s DNA. Customers want to know more about luxury houses through relevant interactions.
Digital enables a global experience
Digital will be the common thread of the overall experience. It allows to generate value in the relationships that luxury brands build with their customers through media, services and developed content. Digital makes it possible to safeguard these long-distance relationships, at any time of any day. It also leads to a simplification of all processes. It is now easier to enter into a relationship with the brand and to create totally tailor-made experiences. Moreover, it is also easier to multiply services to help and satisfy luxury consumers.
Easier contact with digital
By getting in touch with the brands’ websites and social networks, consumers can begin to travel through the imaginary world of luxury houses. Whether they are at home or anywhere else, all they need is a digital medium to have a first access to a brand’s story. It is an opportunity for them to start a relationship. For example, Hermès has created a website entirely dedicated to one of its flagship products, strongly anchored in its identity: the “carré”. The website represents a magnificent front door to begin a journey into the colourful and playful world of Hermès. Beyond that, luxury houses can directly get in touch with their customers through multiple digital channels. This is a great opportunity to establish a totally personalized relationship over time. Thus, advisors can directly invite customers to continue the experience in store.
An extraordinary offline experience
The in-store experience must be considered from start to finish. It is the focal point of the luxury consumer experience. It leaves a greater impact in customers’ mind if it is extraordinary and well thought out. It also allows closer ties with consumers, through targeted interactions. Therefore, a luxury house needs to know its customers’ expectations, preferences and desires. In order to create memories, each brand responds in a unique and authentic way. It is essential to highlight the brands’ values and personality so that the experience is not the same as the one next door. Moreover, shops don’t really look like traditional shops anymore. A narrative is set up so that the encounter and interactions generate strong emotions and unique sensations. Finally, we are no longer selling products but a story. For example, Louis Vuitton offers special fittings in a sumptuous setting in one of its boutiques. The icing on the cake is that a chef prepares a lunch to make the interactions more lively.
An offline experience that goes digital to see further
Digital brings in its wake new technologies that can enhance the experience of a luxury boutique. What is more commonly known as “phygital” uses the data and means coming from digital to transpose it in store. Digital can help both customers and sellers by providing new information and facilities. For luxury goods, this also takes the experience to another level. For example, Tiffany and Co. has released an application using augmented reality. Through it, customers can try on the brand’s famous rings. Carlipa, a luxury watch brand, has created a total phygital concept. For example, they put up in their stores an interactive wall allowing consumers to see models wearing the watches. With the help of interactive tables (watchslate), sellers can show the brand’s models, guide, advise and provide information on the know-how. A secret room has been created so that sellers can discuss the selected watches’ manufacture with customers behind closed doors. Everything is done to create strong links and to make people experience unique emotions while revealing a little more about the luxury brand.
The e-gift card take sexperiential luxury to another level
With digital, the gift card is also becoming dematerialised. It brings with it its share of innovations and is becoming an effective tool for luxury brands, particularly for a high fashion customer experience.
An invitation to a luxurious experience
It is true that digital is the easiest way to contact wealthy consumers. However, it is still necessary to find a way to bring them back to physical shops to deepen the relationship and allow them to truly discover the luxury house and its world. The digital gift card actually represents the perfect bridge. The brand has the possibility to send an e-gift card to long-time customers or to new ones. The card can be fully personalized with the name of the recipient, and the design can reflect the artistic path taken by the luxury brand. With a predefined amount, it is an invitation to come and shop in the physical boutique, a little attention that will never leave you indifferent. Therefore, the e-card is a way to get in touch with consumers before they go to the shop. An important point when you know that customers who have been contacted beforehand spend at least 20% more than others. *BNP Paribas Digital – The new luxury world of 2020
The digital gift card increases the level of experience in store
When an affluent customer receives from a brand a dematerialised gift card with their name on it, he interprets it as a welcome gift or a thoughtful gift. Offering a gift usually means that the recipient is important to us, and that we seek his pleasure before our own. This is how the brand is positioning. Just by sending the card, it delivers certain emotions, even before the customer has entered the shop. Those emotions are all the stronger because the dematerialised gift card is part of the experiential gifts. More evocative than materials gifts, recipients anticipate the emotions they may feel afterwards. Here, a shopping experience that promises to be luxurious is offered. An invitation to dream and escape into a world different from the one they live in. In the end, what we are looking to create in store is partly pre-determined by the gift card: to get closer to the customer and create emotions. Once inside a physical shop, cardholders will not have the same experience. More inclined to discovery and to pleasure shopping, they will take more time, try things on, and are more likely to leave with products as souvenirs.
The e-card, a strong impact on memorization
A digital gift card can also be offered, still in a personalized way, to people who have spent a shopping moment in a luxury boutique. If everything has been worked out, customers should be satisfied, amazed and even feel closer to the brand. But who says they will have a long-term memory after all? To be sure, a luxury house can exceptionally decide to offer a digital gift card to customers. The e-card will then be directly linked to the experience in the shop. Each time the holder will look at the card, he or she will undoubtedly remember the “shopping moment”. Even better, the dematerialised card is an invitation to extend the experience by coming back to the shop next time or by visiting the website. It is also a way to ensure that the cardholder will keep the brand in mind.
An experiential gift that customers can give
The digital gift card can be offered as a new product or service for a luxury brand’s customers. Whether it is for Christmas, a birthday or any other special occasion, individuals have good reasons to offer an e-gift card from a luxury brand. The card can be fully personalized with a message, a visual, etc. It is a gift full of attention for the recipient. Moreover, the giver does not only give a spendable amount in a shop, but he offers the recipient a real shopping experience to discover or learn more about a brand. A perfect experiential gift. Of course, the brand is not left out as it is directly associated with the gift, which according to several studies, is made to maintain a relationship with someone important. Each e-card giving is an opportunity for the recipients to discover and create and attachment to a luxury house.
Customer experience is nowadays a key element for all sectors, but especially for the luxury market. Wealthy customers expect luxury houses not only to offer quality products, but also to provide an excellent experience both on and offline. This experience can be taken to a whole new level with the digital gift card. It can be offered as a gift service, so that individuals can offer unique experiences in shops. It can also be given to customers by the luxury houses themselves as an invitation to discover or rediscover a brand and its world.
Suggestions for further reading
Luxury and digital: irreconcilable yesterday, inseparable today