The luxury industry is not commonly associated with techno-entrepreneurship. But disruptive ‘digital mobile’ technology that allows people to harness computing power away from their desks has the potential to reinvent the way we think about luxury goods and to create new opportunities for entrepreneurial brands to re-energise affluent consumers.
Over the last few years, Giorgio Armani, Dior and others have entered the digital mobile space by launching luxury phones. Designed to feel like objets d’art, some were made with materials like Swarovski crystals, crocodile skin, and diamond-encrusted platinum. Yet in terms of technology, they couldn’t compete with industry leaders Apple and RIM, ultimately offering little beyond the ‘bling’ factor.
Luxury brands like Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Mercedes have released iPhone apps that allow consumers to browse new products in an intimate and discreet way. And today, there are thousands of apps available that do anything from identify the name of a song at a bar to book flights on British Airways.
“Luxury goods are the original social objects,” says Kevin Slavin, managing director and co-founder of Area/Code, a company that builds cross-media games and entertainment products. They transmit value through their use.” In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell writes about rapid cognition; that is, immediate judgments made about others, environments and situations through a process called ‘thin-slicing’: “When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions.” Wearing an Hermès Cape Cod watch or Christian Louboutin shoes sends signals that ask to be picked up. Disruptive digital mobile technologies now make it possible to create luxury objects with the embedded intelligence to do and say things, not merely signify them.
by Vikram Alexei Kansara for LUXURYSOCIETY.COM
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