As airlines continue to invest in new products and services that retain and grow their premium customer base, they will need to adapt to fast changing consumer behaviours and attitudes towards luxury.
Traditional luxury products and services are becoming more affordable to many, as the traditional wealth centres move from the west to the east, and middle class wealth continues to explode. Younger digital savvy consumers are challenging the status quo and looking towards unique and meaningful experiences from the brands they interact with.
Outlined below are four key trends, as identified by leading luxury trend forecasters.
Consumers have started to expect their product or experience to be designed according to their individual needs. Louis Vuitton, recognizing this, embarked on a corporate strategy to deliver a unique brand experience through the use of facial recognition software. Technology is used in store to identify registered and frequent customers by staff equipped with tablets, enabling them to instantly identify customers, their purchase history and personal preferences. Although in it’s early stages, staff can now tailor the service to the individual, delivering beyond their expectations.
Physical retail is becoming more experiential, with brands starting to incorporate various lifestyle modules such as art galleries, brand museums or cafes into their retail offer to stand out from the competition.
At the high end of luxury, brands are extending further to create the ultimate in lifestyle living. Through a unique hotel partnership, residents at the luxury residential apartments at One Hyde Park London can access the services of the neighboring Mandarin Oriental. They can buy anything from housekeeping services, chefs in their own kitchen, private butlers and concierge service.
The third big trend in luxury will see the growth of domestic home grown brands and new niche players, as technology enables more start ups to reach a wider audience.
3D printing technology has enabled small craft based start-ups to access more affordable machines, creating unique and personalized products. With technology advancing at such a high pace fashion designers, artists and craftspeople are experimenting with the technology to create truly bespoke and desirable objects.
The final trend highlights how the uber-wealthy will continue to seek out exceptional products and services that only they can afford. As VIP customers look for exceptional ways to separate themselves from the pack, luxury brands will create the rare, the one off and the totally unaffordable to cater to their increasing needs.
So where next for the luxury amenity bag?
Could airlines offer more unique and limited edition products through creative partnerships or thinking similarly to a retailer?
Could airlines stimulate more home grown talent and help to create the global brands of the future?
Or could airlines deliver an amenity bag with a conscience to endorse and symbolise their social and environmental strategy?
Lastly, could new technology like 3D printing enable airlines to deliver truly bespoke and personalised amenity products to their most valuable customers?