Picture: Le Café V at the Louis Vuitton flagship store in Osaka

Affluent consumers have new expectations, particularly when it comes to luxury. They increasingly demand social responsibility and sustainable best practices from (luxury) brands. Beyond a brand and its products, consumers also want to live life experiences. Experiences that are unique, personal and authentic. Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, comments: “The future of luxury will not only be in luxury goods, as it’s been for many years, but also in luxury experiences, and we want to be in both segments.” In this article I share examples of this approach and how this is completely related to the demands of candidates and us needing to build relationships, not collecting resumes.

Some facts and figures

The high-end travel industry is set to see spending by young affluent travellers reach $1.4 trillion by 2020. It’s no surprise, therefore, that luxury group LVMH decided to purchase the hospitality group Belmond for $3.2 billion. For example, by embedding elements of wellness into their offerings, luxury brands from the beauty and fashion industries have been able to deliver a level of experience that goes well beyond their products. Louis Vuitton will soon open the brand's first-ever cafe and restaurant at its Osaka flagship store: Le Café V. Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive officer of Vuitton hinted that more restaurants and even hotels could be in the pipeline for the brand. Dior’s flagship boutique on Avenue Montaigne in Paris is recently renovated and reopened with a restaurant. The development followed the news that Tiffany & Co., which is now also owned by LVMH, opened its first European Blue Box Cafe in Harrods. With the students of my class ‘Influencers & Media’ within the Rome International Business School - Fashion Master program, last semester we have been reflecting on a successful influencer campaign of that same Tiffany & Co with 27 year old travel influencer Jack Morris ( @doyoutravel ) with 3 million instagram followers. With their campaign it was not directly about promoting or selling more product but about Jack accentuating their shared interest in culture and social good. In total, Morris’ three sponsored Instagram posts have garnered more than 234,000 likes and 40.000 Youtube Views.

‘Hors Les Murs’ Hermès at Rome 2019

Experience going much further than retail

At a time where consumers are shifting their spending away from traditional products towards personal life experiences, luxury goods brands need to think beyond their product features to inspire shoppers. Brands that successfully manage to think creatively and find ways to communicate their values in authentic ways that resonate with their audience, will grow. The experience is and has always been part of a luxury purchase. There is an emotional construct and an aspiration to buying high-end goods that goes well beyond a transactional and functional decision for the consumers. For example, a brand that has a tradition of craftsmanship should open its workshops for exclusive tours. This is what French luxury brand Hermès does, for example. The pictures above, I took at this workshop exhibition in Rome last year. With their traveling concept ‘Hors Les Murs’ Hermès gives the opportunity to see up close the design standards and production excellence for which the brand is renowned globally. And even more valuable is the chance to interact and ask questions of the artisans behind the products. 

Women Talk Tech event, initiated by PVH | Tommy Hilfiger / Calvin Klein.

How this trend influences the candidate journey

In the case of talent acquisition, brands should wake up ( read my article on being Woke ) and apply these consumer marketing learnings to their recruitment. Candidates are consumers just the same, for whom you want to create a positive experience and journey to connect with them in another more genuine way. Companies need to move from a transactional approach filling a role to a ‘relationship first' approach building value with candidates whether they apply or not. Make sure your HR and recruitment team is diverse and run by people who nurture relationships with potential talent. Give these teams tools, time, respect ánd budget to keep potential candidates warm and engaged in order to be most successful in identifying and hiring people when roles come up. Consider sharing information, holding events or simply booking a bi-annual coffee catch up with candidates in your talent pool. Use technology to pre-set automated, tailored communications to different groups of candidates and their expertise. I’d also like to share a great example of connecting with a community of potential candidates, in which I was involved myself. This was an event - see the picture above - initiated by PVH | Tommy Hilfiger / Calvin Klein. The idea behind this was to tap into the community of Tech professionals, of which is a growing need however, candidates working in Tech are hesitant to join a fashion company because of the idea you need to be hip and happening yourself and even more because they feel the challenges and perspectives for their expertise in this field is much more valued and seen in tech giants such as Booking.com or Google. So we created an open event on Eventbrite and invited women working in Tech to come for a meet & greet & tour around the building in which they also got a demo of the ( first in fashion ) Digital Showroom. I got to help organizing and leading a panel discussion named ‘Women talk Tech’ featuring female Tech stars and it was magic seeing the audience ( also a lot of men where involved ) and panel connecting and talking to each other. By inviting people over to their ‘home’ and to have external orchestrators ( like me in this case ) helping to co-create, PVH has made impact and connections in a way they never could have done through their ‘regular’ recruitment funnel. 

What this means for choosing your recruitment partner(s)

If you want to make talent your competitive advantage you need a space ( a system ) in which your company and brand is represented by an outside peer, a trusted influencer - with a serious amount of followers! - , just as the Jack Morris for Tiffany & Co example I shared. In this way you can reach and connect with a different, more targeted and quality audience and have your brand values shared by a person who is already known and trusted in this group. In my opinion and because of this the role of the ‘traditional’ independant recruitment agency needs to urgently change! Certainly in the Fashion and Luxury industry, recruiters need to be community managers and orchestrators of eco-systems. They just as well need to move from a transactional ‘fee for filling a role’ to a ‘relationship first' approach. Choose a recruitment partner that is looking at ‘revenue’ in a different way, who is contributing to and interacting from the heart with that exact same community you want to be connected with as a company. And I mean; serious contributions of sharing time and knowledge on education and students, to invest in relationships, be involved in advisory boards and to organize and attent industry related events. These recruiters are your business advisors, inspiration and joy as they secure connections between all steak holders and create a great experience for everyone involved.

Sources : 

ISRID Agency: Own archive: https://www.isrid.nl/past-projects/

Luxe Digital: https://luxe.digital/

The standard: https://www.standard.co.uk/

Page Up People: https://www.pageuppeople.com/

ISRID is an owner-run agency for access to talent, recruitment and change consultancy, serving an exclusive and high-quality portfolio of clients in the fashion, lifestyle and luxury industry.

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