LVMH Day Focuses on Future Online Luxury Experience
“Imagine the luxury experience of tomorrow.” The slogan chosen by the world’s leading luxury conglomerate for its Inside LVMH program aptly reflected the second edition of LVMH Day with its focus on digital expansion in the luxury industry. On January 11, HEC students exchanged with 19 LVMH representatives and six “Maisons” on their mutual vision of a digital future.
• “Why not set up chat exchanges to answer customers directly?”
• “Transport the customer experience online by making your brand accessible to normal, authentic people, not just stars.”
• “Use social media to present products which reflect customers’ hobbies and experiences.”
These were just a clutch of proposals elaborated by students during the four workshops suggested by HEC and LVMH on a damp Thursday afternoon at the Jouy campus. Top representatives from six of the conglomerate’s 70 luxury brands carefully noted the slogans and motions, commenting on their pertinence and originality, as well as some of their contradictions.
“I was impressed by the sharpness of the interventions,” noted Nicolas Barré, who oversaw the workshop entitled “Building profitable and relevant online business”. Barré is the General Manager for Europe and the Middle East of the Parisian label Céline, labelled by a leading fashion media as not just a brand but “a lifestyle - cool, minimalistic and French” (Hey Woman!, september 18). “The students,” pursued Barré, “clearly have well-thought out ideas on how to expand the online territory for luxury goods using e-commerce and social media.”
Bold New Steps in Linking Retail and Digital
The focus of the luxury industry on non-traditional online outlets is a relatively new one, according to Professor Anne Michaut. She holds the LVMH-sponsored Chair called “General Management and Excellence in Client Experience”, created with HEC Paris in 2015. “Luxury conglomerates like LVMH are accelerating their commitment to digital, investing in a dimension of sales and customer experiences which goes beyond a one-track policy. Online, e-commerce, social networks, these are all being explored to enhance the classic forms of interaction with customers. And in these workshops the new generations of HEC students are finding creative solutions today to generate new models.”
With revenue hitting the €30.1 billion mark in the first nine months of 2017, LVMH has registered impressive development lately. All but one of its business groups recorded double-digit organic growth. Which allows the world’s leading luxury products group to take bold steps in developing its retail to dovetail with the digital era. “They’re looking for a very holistic and coherent experience beyond what was once called the “omnichannel” customer experience,” explained Anne Michaut. “In one of the workshops, students were asked to imagine ways of harmonizing classic and modern ways to interact with customers, for example equipping stores with wall screens and iPads, whilst encouraging them to use their smartphones. The challenge for the students is to make this a coherent and complementary whole.”
HEC Students Vie for LVMH Prize
This is a challenge several participants are hoping to develop for the Inside LVMH Program. This invites teams of students to imagine “the luxury experience of tomorrow”, and submit projects by mid-February. “We’ve built a team of three students around luxury and sustainability,” said Alex, a student in the HEC SASI program. “LVMH have a very open attitude to combining the two and we’d like to propose options for long-term plans that go beyond slapping green labels on the luxury products.” Dior representative Isabelle Hebant insisted on the fact that all her managers are including environmental indexes as one of their parameters. “This includes water, weight, transport, the way the material is gathered at its sources, and how it’s sorted,” she told the students. “It’s not always been in our DNA, but we’re evolving rapidly.” LVMH is expecting over 3,000 projects to be submitted to Inside LVMH with the most promising being invited to pitch their ideas in front of its jury on May 3 2018.
Meanwhile, the conglomerate of high-quality luxury brands continues to support HEC’s program to train its students in sales, merchandizing, logistics, management and finance. “LVMH will have an opportunity to engage directly with a multicultural pool of highly talented students who are open to career mobility and have an affinity with retail operations,” it declared, thus encouraging students to embark on an engaging career in the luxury sector.