Walpole WGSN

The trend research and forecasting agency, WGSN, has published new findings that reveal collaboration as the overwhelming priority for UK luxury brands in the coming years.

The report finds that 78% of brands surveyed named collaborations as key to gaining traction in the emerging market landscape.

“Collaborations stand out as the most relevant marketing tactic for bridging online and offline experiences.”

WGSN describes a “phygital world”, where the opportunity (and need) for symbiosis between online and offline experiences is greater than ever. While the agency takes care to point out that there is nothing new about synergetic collaboration on a product or artistic level, the additional opportunities that digital now affords brands to optimise and deliver on objectives are “staggering”.

The study was carried out for Walpole – the British association of luxury brands. With a function similar to to Italy’s Fondazione Altagamma and the French platform Comité Colbert, Walpole’s 175-strong membership is a virtual blue book of the British luxury manufacturing, retail and service industries, including brands like Alexander McQueen, Smythson and Bentley.

The report points out the imperative for brands to provide more than destinations, and position themselves as enablers of exclusive experiences: “For a long time, brands have been trying to get a consumer to buy something; it is now about inspiring people to BE something”.

The findings are a reminder to brands of their responsibility to delight and surprise modern consumers, whose desire to be treated as individuals now stretches well beyond millennials and Generation Z, and encourages brands to “seek [collaboration] partners who don’t just enhance brand equity, but push it out of its comfort zone”.

“Co-creation changes the emotional investment consumers have in product.”

While the outlook for collaborations is overwhelmingly positive, WGSN tempers its advocacy by reminding of the need for relevancy and exclusivity, and for successful fusions to be followed up by meaningful, long-term partnerships.

Other findings reveal the next-highest ranked priorities for creating engagement also rely on collaborations and other models of product-led brand innovation.

WGSN excerpt

Walpole member and leathergoods supremo Robert Ettinger describes the new paradigm best: “making people feel they have connected with something special is what’s important”.

How to Attract the Luxury Consumer in 2020: Executive Summary

WGSN Cover