Premises of the new Luxury
We are beginning to realize the many upheavals that the pandemic is causing all over the planet, with specificities proper to each country, to each culture. This global crisis, especially in the field of luxury, brings a deep crisis of meaning to the surface, because it paralyzes our consumer society where our models of values, our economic and financial models were almost obsolete.
In haste to return to the "normal", take this time to consider which parts of the "normal" are worth rushing back again. - Dave Hollis
Crisis, what is the definition?
It is interesting to understand that in mandarin chinese, the word crisis is called "weiji" 危 机 This word is composed of two characters: the wei found in the word weixian which means danger, and the ji character spotted in the word jihui which means opportunity. In China, it is relevant to see the crisis as the almost ideal concordance between danger and opportunity, an opportunity "in full" danger: whoever does not see that the danger passes by the opportunity without noticing it; the one who sees only opportunity faces risks.
Let us seize this unique opportunity to move away from the culture of overconsumption, by focusing on luxury, especially in the field of fashion and luxury hotels.
The Fashion industry
They also stopped the production of clothing and accessories in workshops, mainly concentrated in Italy and France, two countries very affected by Covid-19 in order to comply with the confinement measures and the drop in demand.
The giant LVMH is forecasting a 10-20% drop in sales, while Kering is leaning more towards a 13-14% drop. For the entire sector, Bain & Co predicts a 25 to 30% drop in sales in the first quarter of 2020.
According to 28 senior executives of "major luxury brands" interviewed by the analyst firm Bernstein and the consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG), it would take about 7 months to regain a normal level of activity.
Transformations on the merits
In view of all these changes on the horizon, it is urgent to lay a better foundation by redefining the strategies to face a crisis definitely more severe than the financial crisis of 2007, or the H1N1 health crisis of 2009.
The following considerations could form the basis of these strategies :
- Focus on reducing the impact on the environment. Thus prefer solid and sustainable materials, to lighten the ecological footprint over the years.
- Avoid wearing clothing exposed to VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that can be found in benzene used in the manufacture of certain textiles.
- Focus more on local manufacturing and French crafts. Clothing manufacturing is generally subject to lower production costs often in Asian countries like China or India, but this trend is not inevitable.
- Check the origin of materials, textiles, as well as the societal and environmental commitments of the brand. Some clothes leave a permanent trace on the planet, like some components that take decades to disintegrate, just like cotton depleting the water resources of countries already suffering from drought etc...
- Stop making clothes that are becoming more disposable. Giorgio Armani then advocates "Slow fashion" by blocking trends that go so fast that professionals in the sectors no longer follow the pace.
"Fashion should think about stopping producing collections that are too short-lived, with very limited time in store," Armani says in the American magazine WWD Women’s Wear Daily.
Concretely, what can we change in form? Let’s sweep some ideas out of the way quickly enough to make them operational and effective.
Transformations on the form
In order to eliminate all risks of transmission of COVID-19, it is essential to ensure customer safety at all times within the store :
- the wearing of the mask,
- respect for barrier gestures,
- the distribution of the hydroalcoholic gel,
- traffic signs to avoid anyone.
Other ideas need to be thought intelligently in order to attract customers back to shops.
In an increasingly secure environment, but also worrisome for some, stores need to reinvent themselves in order to create more proximity around the even more caring customer relationship, and actively listening to its needs.
- Receive customers by appointment at a specific time, in order to regulate better the circulation of customers in store.
- Think of personal invitations to a private sale, on a much more regular basis.
- Guide the customer to a path marked according to his tastes and preferences, also through a first exchange before his arrival.
The digital revolution
In China, digitalization has changed the perception of stores with younger customers, constantly connected in order to be informed of the latest products/services on the Wechat app. Moreover, before the act of purchase, the reviews and feedback of experiences became fundamental issues for the reputation of the stores. For example, major fashion events such as the Milan and London Fashion Week can be broadcasted live on the internet.
The Richemont group (Cartier, Chloé among others) is a group specialized in the luxury industry, today the world’s second-largest luxury group in terms of turnover behind LVMH, it holds among other things the online luxury sales site Yoox Net-à-Porter. Since 2008, Richemont has been a leader in e-commerce by entering into a partnership with Chinese giant Alibaba for the online distribution of its products.
In France, if digitalization continues with trends similar to China, stores will soon have to get to the digital page so as not to miss this opportunity to create links. A stronger presence in online sales allows you to order easily in a few clicks, but also to remain loyal to them. The major advantage of e-commerce democratizes access to luxury and erases distances.
A unique representative example is the second-hand Vestiaire Collective, which has been in existence since 2009. It is a community of fashion enthusiasts, present in more than 50 countries, in Europe, the United States, Asia and Australia. It has become the reference site for the purchase and sale of carefully selected and controlled second-hand fashion and luxury items. Resale thus becomes an intelligent and sustainable approach to fashion while ensuring their quality and authenticity.
The luxury hotels
The health of the client is at the heart of all the concerns and issues in this sector in crisis for a few years, after living the period of the terrorist attacks of 2015, the Yellow Vests of 2019, and now the COVID-19...
It is therefore necessary to redefine new strategies so that the customer feels even more confident and welcomed with dignity after a long period of confinement.
Ensure an impeccable safety and hygiene protocol
Currently, the majority of hotels are actively preparing for their reopening, by developing a set of measures to ensure maximum customer safety. Let’s have a view over the following three examples:
→ The Parisian palace Le Peninsula applies drastic sanitary measures to avoid any risk of Covid-19 contamination, such as :
- taking of the temperature at the entrance of the hotel staff, on the basis of volunteering,
- wearing masks and gloves. their “Hygiene Manager” works with their team to clean spaces such as elevators, door handles, and will also supervise the cleaning of the rooms as well as the changing rooms and dining room for the staff.
- the development of additional private spaces.
→ Les Relais & Châteaux are reviewing all the sanitary conditions to safely welcome customers during their upcoming reopening. The control office Veritas will supervise all new sanitary gestures to be integrated in all their establishments.
"Taking care of our guests in this period of upheaval is our top priority, guaranteeing them a stay, a moment in our homes without risks » declares Philippe Gombert, President of Relais & Châteaux.
→ Radisson Hotel Group presents its Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, a new program of in-depth cleanliness and disinfection procedures for the group’s hotels, in partnership with SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. The procedures are also :
- the presence of hand sanitizing stations at each entrance,
- the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and protective shields,
- an increased and duly recorded frequency of cleaning and disinfection,
- social distancing in all areas of its hotels, including meeting and conference rooms.
Combining tourism and local economic activity
It sounds appropriate, according to the client’s interests, and according to the strong specificities of each region visited, to offer activities where the client is invited to learn a technique, a know-how that also values the region.
- Cook an authentic French dish with a Michelin-starred chef in Paris,
- Making cheese in Normandy,
- Pick up oysters in the Arcachon Basin,
- Create your own perfume in Grasse,
- Making a wine in Bordeaux etc...
Promoting the digitization of hotel services
The purpose of technology is to be at the service of the human, therefore it should be the continuity of hotels while creating a link from end to end. Here are below some aspects :
- prior to the trip, offering content, information on activities within and outside the hotel allows the guest to prepare in advance his stay.
- during his stay, the client can have a tablet to continue reading information about his environment.
- after his stay, the hotelier will stay in touch with him by sending him newsletters of information about the life of the hotel, to make him want to go back there next time.
Reducing environmental impact through sustainable development
This commitment is based on measures already put in place by a few hotel groups, which should become widespread, such as :
- the fight against food waste,
- the reduction of carbon emissions,
- the elimination of single-use plastic (this is, for example, the Accor target for 2022),
- the water saving (wash bath towels only occasionally, not systematically) etc...
For example, Emmanuel Sauvage, co-founder and Managing Director of Evok Hôtels, has just been appointed representative of the GNI Paris Idf (a group federating professionals of hotels and restaurants) within the Office du Tourisme et des Congrès de Paris. He is developing a national tourism recovery strategy to emerge from the post-pandemic crisis, which will highlight sustainable development.
Promote the "Made in France", and short circuits
- The added values of "Made in France": with a very rich French soil and unique know-how, embodied by the Compagnons du Devoir, and of course the Best Workers of France, it is vital to reformulate a fundamentally French service offering.
- The short circuits: develop the catering offered within the hotel with the short circuits, for example less than 200 kms on the outskirts of the hotel, with a partnership with the local producers.
Le Covid-19 nous contraint à changer nos habitudes de consommation, et accélère ainsi la transformation des industries de la mode, de l'hôtellerie de luxe, et dans un sens plus large, le tourisme, qui part vers trop d'excès.
Nous devons tous nous rendre responsables, de nous adapter au mieux en changeant nos modèles de base... L'essentiel en cette période compliquée est de se rappeler l'importance du capital humain. L'empathie et la solidarité ont refait surface naturellement en mettant en pause le culte de l'individualisme.
Le plus riche des hommes n'est rien sans les autres. Nous tendons de plus en plus vers une économie du sens, et du bien-être permanent! En somme, misons sur le minimalisme, mais en toute sécurité car la conscience est en marche.
"Less is more"