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Luxury brands need to initiate more collaborations with relevant partners if they are to successfully navigate the increasingly digitally-led marketplace over the next few years. This is a trend identified  in research undertaken by WGSN for luxury brand alliance Walpole

According to the survey – ‘How to Attract the Luxury Consumer in 2020’ – of Walpole members the top trend in which they intend to invest for maximum effectiveness in the ever-changing retail market is collaborations, with 78% indicating that this was a trend they were likely to implement between now and 2020.

This was followed by secret and exclusive brand experiences (59%) and personalised online experiences (53%). These three were considered almost twice as popular by the Walpole members.

In terms of collaborations, this is something that many luxury brands already undertake – with very careful consideration of which brands would make suitable partners in these initiatives.  Richard Carter, director of global communications at Rolls-Royce, says: “We’re incredibly selective…but every now and again we’ll pick brands for one-off initiatives.”

Jerome Miller Mackay, managing director of Ettinger recognises the benefit of collaboration and cites an initiative his company undertook with a tattoo artist. The benefits he says are: “They challenge us creatively and our techniques. Collaborations enable us to review our heritage in the new light of today.”

There is also the opportunity to test the water through collaborative initiatives. And such activity can help brands to tell a different story than continually repeating the heritage tale.

The ability for long established brands like Ettinger to tie-up with newer brands enables them to tap into the thoughts and working practices of smaller organisations, which can bring some refreshing thinking into large organisations. There is certainly recognition of this at Rolls Royce that acknowledges there is a need to get closer to a younger customer base in these more digitally driven times.

Carter reveals that the typical customer was historically 60-years-old but today this has reduced to an average of 43/44-years-old: “We need to go out and find Millennials. We can’t have a dying clientele. We need to attract younger people. They’ve got to wealth much faster. It can fall about you by the age of 30 nowadays.”

Mark Henderson, chairman of Gieves and Hawkes fully recognises the upside of association with younger brands, which was a driver behind its collaboration with Orlebar Brown: “A perfect collaboration is two-way. We did a small capsule collection with Orlebar Brown. For us it can stop the image of being a stuffy old brand. And for them it was also helpful.”

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider