eTail Europe 2021

London, UK

Luxury Brands are Nailing Personalisation: Here’s How

In our challenging retail climate, expectations from consumers are sky-high as they pressurise brands to deliver greater value, lower cost and faster fashion. Discount stores are more popular than ever. But there is one sector continually outperforming others, and it’s at the opposite end of the scale. Luxury brands are enjoying a renaissance. Where once shoppers eschewed them for brands offering highly-discounted goods, they are now returning to these trusted premium-quality brands in their droves. A study of 100 companies, undertaken by Interbrand, identified the luxury apparel industry as the top performing sector. Online sales of luxury items are likely to triply by 2025, according to McKinsey.

These brands play on their exclusivity, status, high levels of social engagement and prestigious reputation. Revenues are bolstered by their cross-border capabilities, higher disposable incomes and strong overseas markets such as China and India. But there is another strategy behind their success: they are perfectionists of personalisation, from tailored products and services to highly personalised recommendations, events and engagements – delivering the ultimate brand experience. Luxury brands focus on their highest-value customers at an individual level, they build relationships and – as a result- they grow revenues.

Data Has The Answer

Such companies can only offer a unique, highly personalised experience with exceptional customer data management strategies. Customer data must be accurate. It must be cleansed, enriched, optimised and connected. Data must be integrated from across many different physical and digital channels, to create a single customer view – a knowledge fabric of connected data, drawn from every channel the customer has used to interact with the brand.

Creating this detailed, enriched customer profile highlights enables an unprecedented depth of localisation and personalisation. And it’s a powerful, proven success story behind luxury brands.

Achieving Customer Data Nirvana

The quality of customer data is key for brands competing to offer the most exclusive, premium, highly personalised experience. These brands are taking a holistic view of their data, end-to-end, from data quality to data governance. They consider who touches the data, how and for what purpose: from Customer Relationship Management to point-of-sale alignment. Internally, their data management is impeccable, seamless and consistent. Which means that externally, they can offer the most relevant, contextual, timely products, services and experiences, to the right people, at the right time.

The Challenge of Connecting Data Across Multiple Brands

There is one potential barrier to achieving this customer data nirvana, which risks halting progress in personalisation and impacting the exclusivity of the premium customer experience. Many luxury brands own other brands. For example, Prada owns Miu Miu and Church’s shoes. Michael Kors purchased Jimmy Choo Ltd for $1.2bn in 2017. LVMH Moët Hennery Louis Vuitton SE, itself the result of a merger (no prizes for guessing which brands), owns brands such as Marc Jacobs and Acqua di Parma and Donna Karan. The streamlining and integration of customer data across physical and digital channels must have been a phenomenal task for these organisations. But think about the opportunities for creating incredible, detailed, accurate customer profiles and highly personalised experiences, if the data is connected, optimised carefully and managed end-to-end.

Here at Pitney Bowes, we worked with a company facing a similar issue. Providing a seamless omni-channel and global in-store experience posed a stiff challenge to the organisation which manages more than 15 luxury brands. We delivered a solution which helped ensure that its customer information is complete, consistent, accurate and easy to manage, from data quality through to data governance, across all its brands. With this data curation complete, the brand can deliver timely, relevant customer engagement and personalised experiences across every channel.

The Success Story

As part of a worldwide program that included a CRM solution, a point-of-sale (POS) alignment, and an in-store clienteling application, the company set out to align customer information for each of its brands globally and across channels, giving them a single customer view. To do so, it had to improve the quality of its customer information, brand by brand.

The company used intelligent software to connect the data in its CRM system with its ERP system. The software validates and cleanses data in real-time at the point of entry or as part of a routine batch data improvement process. The organisation also wanted to verify and correct address data from many countries, which differ widely in addressing format and language. The software helped them achieve this, supporting data sources that may include not only addresses, but also emails and phone numbers, which deliver more accurate and complete information for marketing campaigns.

Ensuring accurate customer information will provide a foundation for the company’s growing omni-channel strategy. The company’s CRM Manager said, “We need to ensure that if customers are recognised in retail, they should also be recognized by transactions and history in the online channel.” Data quality management can be complicated, because the company keeps the data for each of its brands completely separate. But by creating a multi-brand solution, enhancements and best practices initiated by one brand can be shared with all the others.

“In one case, the CRM team responded to a request for more customer qualification attributes by developing approximately 20 more fields, capturing everything from the customer’s favourite colour choices to what drinks he preferred,” says the CRM manager. “Because of that single request, all the other brands inherited the enhancement.” With this depth of customer profiling, the organisation has a robust foundation to deliver highly personalised, relevant customer experiences to its discerning clientele. The good news is, this isn’t a privilege reserved for the luxury brands. Smart data management enables high levels of personalisation and improves the customer experience, whatever your brand and budget.

Want to share your thoughts on this? Connect with me on LinkedIn and find Pitney Bowes at eTail Europe, 18-19 June at the QE2 Conference Centre, London.