Two American firms participating in Viva Technology Paris believe that luxury firms are finally embracing technology.
Orchard Mile and Swoonery are two of nine American firms selected to give five-minute presentations at the three-day fair that opened Thursday. The event, which counts the LVMH group as a partner, was organized by Groupe Les Échos and Publicis Groupe. More than 5,000 start-ups, and 30,000 visitors, are expected to have a chance to engage with business executives, investors and opinion leaders from around the world. LVMH is hosting a special “Lab” dedicated to the luxury industry. The LVMH Lab includes nearly 50 start-ups that have initiatives addressing the future challenges of luxury houses. They are also asked, through a series of two challenges, to show how their innovation can “enrich LVMH customer intimacy” and personalization through a stronger understanding of the customers.
Jean Poh, chief executive officer of Swoonery, a luxury jewelry online marketplace, said, “Traditionally, luxury does not embrace technology.” She explained that technology is a personal experience reflecting how each individual uses it in a different way, and that a lot of high-touch personalization is required when trying to “craft a white-glove experience.”
Having LVMH partner in the technology fair shows that the company “recognizes that innovation has started to happen in luxury, and is a reflection of what’s happening in brick-and-mortar,” Poh said. “Using technology to create a personal experience online completely changes the game [for luxury firms],” she added.
Poh said in the jewelry industry, companies such as hers work with top designers, but in contrast have a “harder time getting the attention of luxury houses, which tend to be more conservative in their approach.” She said events such as Viva Technology Paris give “brands the security that going digital is a step in the right direction.”
Mortimer Singer, ceo of Marvin Traub Associates and chairman and cofounder of Orchard Mile, a luxury online fashion destination site, said his company is focusing on customization and showing how brands through Orchard Mile can amplify their direct business. Singer said the event is about how the luxury industry can better embrace technology. “We appreciate being surrounded by a group of like-minded, forward-thinking technology companies. We are learning from each other and it’s been productive. It sets up the industry nicely for continued growth and momentum in the luxury sector,” Singer said.
Poh said with more brands and more content than ever, a key issue is how to break through the noise and personalize the experience. She explained that the setup for the group event Swoonery and Orchard Mile are participating in is structured around a living room scenario, with each start-up given two challenges and five minutes for a presentation. She said the two challenges they were given were on personalization in terms of how to increase the understanding of the consumer and how to create smarter products for omnichannel experiences.
For Poh, the key takeaway from the event is that consumers are looking for convenience. The reason why monobrands aren’t performing strongly is because of how consumers access selection in the marketplace. “Companies that can personalize the experience are going to be winners in the future,” she said.
For Singer, his takeaway is that “companies are trying to figure out how to balance exclusivity and brand equity against customer service and customization.”
Other American brands participating at Viva Technology Paris include Brickwork, Chute, Entrupy, Eqosphere, PS Dept, Validated and Memomi.