January 20, 2022

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Fashion, The needs of women

Vogue Business Index: Omnichannel retail and what fashion can learn from beauty

This is an excerpt from the Vogue Business Index: Winter 2021 update. Here, retail and marketing editor Kati Chitrakorn reveals what fashion brands can learn from beauty when it comes to omnichannel retail. Vogue Business Advanced Members can find the full updated edition of the Index here. Not an Advanced Member? Sign up today.

One of the most significant omnichannel evolutions that will continue into 2022 is a focus on digitising the high-touch experience once only possible in stores. Customers are expected to predominantly “hybrid shop” not just for this holiday season but for the year ahead, meaning they’ll be buying across multiple channels to make sure they can find the products they want. Shopping journeys can now involve an average of nine different touchpoints, experts say.

Glossier’s pop-ups and physical stores affirm the importance of human connection in the real world, but authenticity and interactivity are also vital in virtual spaces. Without the physical merchandising and expertise of in-store advisors, brands are trying to recreate the physical shopping experience by bringing product education, expertise and word-of-mouth recommendations to e-commerce. Luxury companies, including Chanel and buzzy brands such as Urban Decay and NYX Cosmetics, have used augmented reality to offer a richer beauty shopping experience online.

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Vogue Business Index: Winter 2021 Update

The winter 2021 update of the Vogue Business Index, in partnership with Klarna, reveals the leading luxury brands across five key pillars: digital, ESG, omnichannel, innovation and consumer sentiment.

With online group activities such as Netflix Party and Instagram Co-Watching catching on during the pandemic, it’s clear that peer-to-peer connections have become more crucial in consumers’ lives. Estée Lauder-owned Clinique has a new virtual service centred around video chats and personalisation, where friends can shop together online from various locations. Charlotte Tilbury recently added the ability for shoppers to invite friends to join one’s shopping visit via Zoom-like video screens.

Some beauty brands are shifting towards real-time, personal dialogues in place of sponsored content. They’re turning to social commerce upstarts to get products into the hands of real people, who in return share honest feedback. Exa, launched by clean beauty retailer Credo, has started embedding carousels of testimonials from social media users on its online product pages and social channels, which demonstrates the importance of unfiltered, unphotoshopped, sponcon-free reviews.

Loyalty is another area ripe for innovation. Many luxury fashion brands do not offer loyalty programmes, although they may reward their highest spending customers with invitations to fashion shows and a dedicated concierge service. The privacy landscape is being redefined as consumers push for greater transparency and tech giants begin phasing out third-party cookies. In a digitised world, brands need to navigate new ways to own the customer relationship and acquire data legally.

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Dior ranks No. 1 in latest Vogue Business Index

The winter 2021 update of the Vogue Business Index, in partnership with Klarna, reveals the leading luxury brands across five key pillars: digital, ESG, omnichannel, innovation and consumer sentiment.

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Loyalty programmes are typically associated with points-based tiers. While customer surveys and points-collection are cost-effective and may work for beauty, it is not the game luxury brands are in, many of which are still adjusting away from a top-down approach towards one that is more democratic and inclusive. Major mainstream retailers, including Nike and Uniqlo, as well as luxury brands such as Bottega Veneta, are building loyalty by prioritising localised stores and community engagement to build direct-to-consumer relationships. The next step will be to offer more personalised experiences.

Even as physical stores begin to reopen, with increased safety protocols and updated procedures, brands are prioritising richer digital experiences that go beyond transactions and new product launches. So while consumers who craved real-life shopping experiences are queuing up to once again experience the pleasure of brick-and-mortar retail, new expectations around interaction, honesty and community have come to the forefront, and brands will need to adjust how they reach their customers.

The Vogue Business Index: Winter 2021 update, in partnership with Klarna, provides the industry with the most extensive dataset to benchmark brands against competitors, identify best-practice strategies and ultimately make better decisions. To download the full report, sign up for Advanced Membership here.

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