“Luxury brands must invest in end-to-end customer experience”

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Patrick Chalhoub, Co-CEO of Chalhoub Group, says a successful marketing strategy for luxury brands must be an omnichannel approach

Has going digital become the predominant marketing strategy of all luxury brands in the ME region?

We are witnessing exciting times as we experience a new disruption in the region with the rise of everything digital. It surely isn’t new to the region but it will drastically change the face of the retail industry over the years to come. For high-end brands, it is on social media that 42 per cent of GCC consumers aged 18-26 discover luxury, therefore marketers can use social media to capitalise on millennials’ curiosity and even buy through social platforms (Instagram with Shop Now or Buy button on Pinterest).

The region has known a significant rise of influencers: in 2016, 61 per cent of people aged 18-26 and 56 per cent of people aged 27-34, followed at least one influencer, while 71 per cent of UAE residents aged 18-40 were happy to take advice from online personalities before making a purchase, instead of consulting family and friends for product recommendations.

Influencers are very powerful in the region and consumers are very influenced by their choices; if they love an influencer, they want to do everything like her/him.

Facing these facts and figures, high-end brands are using new channels to attract their customers. No wonder that, for some brands, influencers are no longer a supplement to their marketing strategy – they are part of the strategy.

Luxury brands must invest in the end-to-end customer experience, measure everything and respond to multitude of possible customer journeys. Marketing has become much more complex and strategic than ever and require new skills, new mindset, new approach.

Therefore, we can notice that the predominant marketing strategy is the diversity of the tools, be it offline or online; brands should focus on a 360-degree Marketing with the customer at the center by mastering data, omnichannel, technology, strategy, product development, merchandising, events… because all of them are important and complementary.

What’s the best way for luxury brands to build digital strategy in the region?

Consumers are always connected through multiple channels and devices, they expect to have their needs met instantly. Identifying the how, when, where and why consumers connect with a brand gives marketers the right insight to build their consumer-focused strategy and how to effectively engage with shoppers.

A successful marketing strategy must be an omnichannel approach, consistent and complementary, focused on enhancing the offline experience and taking digital tools to improve physical visits. Hence, luxury brands can seize the opportunity to provide a personalised experience to their customers.

The most successful luxury brands will be those who built their digital strategy taking into consideration the consumer needs and aspirations. Since digital is changing the nature of the relationship between brands and individuals, putting consumers at the core is the best way to build this strategy.

The interview is part of the cover story that appeared in the November 2017 issue of Gulf Marketing Review.