Art and fashion, selective distribution, social media and influencers and new trends in fashion marketing were among the topics discussed on the first day of the third MARQUES Luxury Brands Symposium. The Symposium is taking place at the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan.
Trends in digital marketing
In his keynote speech, Antonio Montesano, Head of Digital at OMD, Italy provided an inspirational and provocative insight into new trends in fashion digital marketing. These include new channels such as gaming, short videos on TikTok, virtual reality and mixed reality, and Big Data and AI.
Antonio said that Generation Z consumers (people born after 2000) will account for 55% of luxury consumers by 2025, so it is important to be aware of their interests and needs. For example, he said: “The new trend is being anti-trend.” Disruptive brands have tapped into this, such as Diesel with its campaigns “Enjoy before returning” and the anti-influencer “Be a follower”.
Successful campaigns can reach millions of people and gain wide media coverage. Antonio said an example is the Air Catwalk hosted on an aircraft by easyJet and Vogue Italia. “It worked well because it was quite strange; strange is what Gen Z like!”
Influencers will continue to be important, including virtual influencers. Examples of these are Imma in Japan, who has 160,000 followers and has been on the cover of a magazine; Noonoouri, who has over 330,000 followers on Instagram and has worked with several fashion brands and virtual music star Lil Miquela, who has nearly 2 million Instagram followers.
“Digital is very, very important … but all these online/offline distinctions are blurring,” said Antonio. Examples of “phygital” marketing (the blending of physical and digital) include Nike’s partnership with Instagraffiti in Brazil and ASOS’s virtual catwalk, while smart glasses such as Microsoft’s HoloLens and Magic Leap, combined with 5G, are expected to be a market worth $150 billion by 2025. “The future is Mixed Reality,” said Antonio. “Digital will be another layer of our reality. You will be able to do everything and it will become easy and normal. In five years many people will use smart glasses and in 10 years everyone will have them.”
Finally, Big Data and machine learning will result in virtual personal assistants running more and more complicated tasks and knowledge such as Amazon’s StyleSnap. “AI will be even more creative … this is the world we are going to live in!” predicted Antonio.
Collaborations between artists and designers
The keynote speech followed three panel sessions on topics relevant to luxury brands. The first, chaired by Michael Noth of TIMES Attorneys, addressed the collaboration between artists and fashion designers. Artist Pietro Ruffo described his partnerships with Valentino and Dior, saying the fashion houses were “very brave” to invite him to collaborate, and adding: “The bigger brand, the less they tell you. They just give you one sentence; we want Rome, and layers. Basta!”
Massimo Sterpi of Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners contrasted spontaneous collaboration with captive collaboration, and discussed examples such as Marc Jacobs/Daniel Buren and Keith Haring/Uniqlo. He also highlighted some cases that had arisen where copyright infringement had been alleged, and asked where the dividing line between copying and inspiration should lie.
Anthony Misquitta of the Victoria & Albert Museum covered the topic of false fashion endorsement and the cases of Rihanna v Topshop in the UK and Kim Kardashian West v Misguided in the US. He also raised the important question of whether fashion is art or design, discussing the Lucasfilm case in the UK regarding Star Wars helmets, saying: “If it’s a work of art, copyright is triggered. If it’s design, design right is triggered. Copyright is a more powerful right for longevity.” For museums such as the V&A, the distinction is critical in deciding whether permission needs to be sorted to publish photographs. Finally, Anthony described how designers can work with museums on exhibitions and merchandise, pointing to the success of the Alexander McQueen “Savage Beauty” and Christian Dior “Designer of Dreams” exhibitions. In the final presentation in this session, Astrid Welter of Fondazione Prada elaborated on collaborations between institutions and artists.
Selective distribution and social media
The second panel was chaired by Bernd Weichhaus of Lubberger Lehment and included Andreas Reindl of Van Bael & Bellis, Manuel Kleinemenke of Porsche AG and Benjamin Neyt of LVMH. They addressed the importance of selective distribution channels for luxury brands, the European Commission’s approach to competition issues and recent CJEU cases such as Coty and Metro.
Specific topics covered included online sales restraints, pricing issues, territorial restraints, dual distribution issues, passive sales, price comparison sites and AdWords restrictions. Andreas highlighted the Commission’s review of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation and guidelines, with a working document expected by the middle of next year and new guidelines due in 2022.
Brand owners and a representative of Facebook took part in the session on social media and influencer marketing. Chair Ida Palombella of Deloitte Legal said that there are now 4.4 billion internet users in a world population of 7.7 billion, with 2.3 billion Facebook users.
Rachele Perico of the Blonde Salad/Chiara Ferragni said that influencer marketing is different from traditional marketing in two respects: it is mixed with other communications and the brand accepts partial loss of control. “It has the possibility to enlarge the traditional audience and it is also experienced by consumers as something closer to their experience,” she said, adding that it offers the possibility to measure the success of a campaign and see an immediate outcome of the results of investment.
“Influencer marketing is definitely changing the relationship between brands and consumers. It’s getting closer and closer,” added Arianna Iacomelli of Furla. “These are really powerful instruments. These are real people and putting the brands in this context makes them feel closer to consumers.” But she said that guidelines on disclosure are different around the world, with the principle generally being that disclosure must be clear and use established terms such as “#advertising” or “#ad”.
Marta Dolcetto of Moncler stressed that social media is increasingly important for luxury brands, but warned that counterfeiters follow consumers. “You need a dedicated enforcement strategy, and to understand where the business wants to be,” she said. One question now being considered is how to respond to the popularity of WeChat. Mark Fiore of Facebook/Instagram described the measures, both reactive and proactive, that the social media sites are taking to tackle counterfeiting and other IP violations, and encouraged brands to make use of the tools available, including new tools based on machine learning and image recognition.
The day concluded with a Champagne Reception and Dinner in the hotel. The conference continues today (8 November).