Digital Luxury: Transforming Brands and Consumer Experiences


Wided Batat

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    About The Author

    Wided Batat is a marketing professor and an internationally renowned expert and speaker on experiential and digital marketing specialized in the fields of retail, luxury, food, well-being, youth cultures, generations Z&Y, millennials and post-millennials, and tourism. She has published dozens of books in English and French, and articles in top-tier academic journals that have received several awards. Professor Batat has introduced an innovative and disruptive approach to global and digital customer experience by providing a strategic framework of the customer experience offline and online and the new experiential marketing mix (7Es). Entrepreneur, Professor Batat is also a bilingual (French and English) international professional trainer and the founder of B&C Consulting Group, an innovative market research and consumer insights company specializing in global and digital customer experience design, buying behavior, and consumer trends. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.


    For a long time, traditional luxury brands have been reluctant to accept the opportunities provided by digital technologies. Some of the major concerns have included the increased accessibility of brands online, which might dilute the scarcity and perceived exclusivity of brands; new design technologies that could undermine the heritage, craftsmanship, and sensory experiences that consumers have with brands; and the co-creation and close interaction between the customer and brands that could undermine the aspirational dimension and the distance between the creator and the consumer. In the meantime, anecdotal evidence shows that some luxury brands have already seized the opportunities made possible by digital channels and have integrated them into their strategy without harming the brand’s values. For example, Burberry has been recognized as the pioneer of digital collaboration for its work with Snapchat, Google, and YouTube. Because social media increase the visibility of luxury experiences, some research indicates that luxury experiences derived from services may have assumed the role of luxury products in conspicuous consumption. Therefore, the digital context raises two questions: What is the meaning of a digital luxury experience? What are the technologies and devices that luxury companies can use to create pleasurable and profitable digital brand experiences? Therefore, the objective of this book is to explore novel approaches to the study of digital luxury experience as well as to investigate how technologies can enhance or inhibit the luxury industry and consumption experience.

    The first part of this book, “The Digital Luxury Experience Revolution,” explores the contributions that the concept of customer experience has made to digital luxury marketing in addition to the main challenges that luxury companies are facing when trying to shift or transform their brand experiences. In Chapter 1, I question the meaning of the digital luxury experience and what it represents. I also address why it is so critical for luxury businesses to rethink their digital marketing strategy. In fact, although the implementation of the digital luxury experience is important, most of the digital strategies of luxury companies rely on a product marketing strategy, which is not enough today to offer unique, efficient, and profitable brand experiences. Chapter 1 first explains the transition from luxury as a product to luxury as experience, and then, as an experience within the digital era. Subsequently, I provide an overview of the rise of the luxury experience by offering a new definition of luxury. Finally, I highlight the contributions that the concept of customer experience and its tangible and intangible dimensions has made to digital luxury marketing. In the second chapter, I explain the digital transformation of luxury businesses and describe the evolution of digital marketing in the luxury sector. Chapter 2 addresses the challenges of this digital transformation in the luxury sector and offers a new digital marketing strategy: “Blue Sunflower Marketing,” a disruptive strategy through the use of an innovative tool, and presents the “Digital Luxury Triangle” (DLT), which luxury companies can implement to design successful brand experiences. Chapter 3 examines the way in which luxury companies can connect with digital natives and share luxury experiences with them. Indeed, digital natives are particularly strategic targets for the luxury industry and its services. Not only does this challenge represent a significant task for luxury, but it is also a deeply globalized issue, which is a major asset for these international luxury brands. The objective of this chapter is to identify how digital natives are taking ownership of blogs and developing new relationships with luxury brands. In order to accomplish that, I will begin by presenting the specificities of the digital native generation. I will discuss how the members of this digital generation use social media to develop their online person-branding; how they connect with luxury brands as influencers, Instagramers, and bloggers; and how these young people share luxury brand experiences with their followers.

    The second part of this book, “Realms of the Digital Luxury Experience,” explores, through five chapters, the technologies used by luxury brands to access the five main digital luxury experience realms. In Chapter 4, I present the first realm: the immersive digital luxury experience. In this chapter, I explore the notion of digital immersion and the way luxury companies can use different creative technologies as well as narrative techniques, such as digital storytelling and storydoing, to immerse their customers in pleasurable and emotional customer experiences. In Chapter 5, I introduce the second digital luxury experience realm: the connected digital luxury experience. I explain how connected objects and the Internet of Things (IoT) can be regarded by luxury companies as new databases to be taken into account in order to design highly customized connected luxury experiences. Chapter 6 focuses on the third digital luxury experience realm: the playful digital luxury experience. This chapter introduces the reader to the concept of gamification and its related technologies that luxury businesses can implement to design immersive, emotional, and enjoyable brand experiences. Chapter 7 presents the fourth realm of the digital luxury experience: the humanized digital luxury experience. Artificial intelligence (AI), virtual agents, chatbots, and robots represent some of the future fundamentals of digital luxury experience design. This chapter presents a thoughtful analysis of the technologies related to AI, virtual assistants/agents, chatbots, and robotics in order to understand how luxury professionals in different sectors can use them to design humanized and emotional experiences. Chapter 8, the last chapter in Part II of this book, introduces the fifth realm: the prototyped digital luxury experience. In this chapter, I introduce 3D printing technology and answer the following questions: How is 3D printing used in fashion and luxury today? And, what advantages does it offer when compared to traditional processes?

    The third part of this book, “Digital Luxury Experience: What’s Next?,” explores the future innovations and considerations regarding digital luxury marketing. This part includes three main chapters. In Chapter 9, I introduce the first challenge that luxury companies face when designing the ultimate digital luxury experience and switching to a new experiential marketing mix that goes beyond the traditional use of the mix, by addressing the 7Es: Experience, Exchange, Extension, Emphasis, Empathy capital, Emotional touchpoints, and the Emic/etic process. Chapter 10 will focus on the transition from big data logic to immersive smart data for developing insights into the digital luxury experience by using complementary and alternative market research tools. Finally, in Chapter 11, I conclude by addressing the third challenge, linked to the emergence of a new paradigm: the “phygital” luxury consumption experience. I explore the notion of the phygital context, a new environmental setting combining both physical places and digital spaces in the luxury sector. I also demonstrate how companies can apply it and integrate new and innovative tools and devices in order to create a fluid continuum between the in-store experience and other online platforms.

  • Conclusion

    This book is an analytical and practical guide that encompasses all aspects of the digital luxury experience. It is based on an up-to-date use of concepts and practices related to the digital transformation and the importance of the customer experience in the digital immersive and emotional era. The digital transformation brought about by the intensification of the use of digital technologies, the advent of a new consumer, the erosion of the borders between the real and the virtual worlds, and the ubiquity of smartphones are encouraging luxury brands to rethink their digital strategies and take a customer-centric approach that considers consumer experiences in a phygital environment characterized by a continuum of offline and online behaviors. These new behaviors have contributed to the emergence of new approaches in digital marketing in various luxury sectors (retail, hospitality, events, gastronomy, wellness and well-being, private banks, etc.) that compel companies to offer digital customer experiences which should fit with a consumer’s needs at various levels: functional, emotional, hedonic, symbolic, relational, and experiential.

    These digital luxury experiences contribute greatly to improving the quality of the online customer experience via the brand’s site and social media as well as the real-world customer experience lived offline in shops, banks, hotels, restaurants, etc. However, with the evolution of digital technologies, connected objects, big data, and social networks, luxury companies are confronted with a huge problem concerning the creation of a digital luxury experience that is emotional, profitable, and effective. While the role of immersive and interactive technologies as a tool for creating the digital experience is confirmed every day, there are still many questions as to which elements are likely to make customers experience emotional digital experiences that are both meaningful and, above all, memorable, thus allowing the brand to build loyalty and create a sustainable competitive advantage. The digital luxury experience, therefore, must meet the needs of today’s society, which has evolved considerably since the introduction of the Internet in the 1990s and the democratization of the use of digital technologies in everyday life. This book is intended for luxury professionals, startups, and engineers as well as marketing, communication, and digital practitioners who wonder about the future of e-commerce and the evolution of brands’ websites and who would like to understand the potential of the digital experience for their company/brand while equipping themselves with practical guidelines for designing an effective and emotional customer experience with a continuum in the phygital environment.


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