Talking luxury at Cannes Lions festival

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By Damon Embling
Talking luxury at Cannes Lions festival

Attracting young spenders who are passionate about luxury is one of the big talking points at this year's Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, taking place on the French Riviera.

The annual festival brings thousands of creatives together from around the globe to discuss, debate and disrupt the future of brand communications, marketing and advertising.

In the luxury sector, tech-savvy young people are becoming big spenders, big consumers, and big brands are having to adapt and innovate to please them, reports Damon Embling from Cannes. One report last year showed Millennials and Generation Z driving 85 per cent of luxury sales growth around the world.

Creating a 'special experience'

Lucie Greene, worldwide director for JWT Intelligence at Wunderman Thompson, explains: "What we see, not only as a product, but also a way of marketing is this idea of experiential marketing and experiential innovation.

"So this is not only based on... Millennials' and GenZ's spending on aspirational experiences – and that is part of your curated social media identity – but brands are realising that if you create a really special experience or collaboration with an artist, you are more likely to share that.

"You are also seeing a lot of emphasis from the brands on creating new forms of entertainment, based upon streaming and sound channels like podcasts."

Ethical and sustainable luxury

Today's luxury buyers also have a growing appetite for ethical and sustainable goods, something the communications industry is working to reflect.

"Whether that's vegan leather, or like Stella McCartney teaming up with a biotech company like Bolt Threads to create leather out of mushroom protein, or Chanel investing in Sulapac, which is a biodegradable form of packaging," Greene says, "this whole idea of luxury is being redefined as something that should be responsible."

Digital first

With most young luxury customers, smartphone and digital-first platforms such as Instagram are becoming a key focus for generating sales.

"I was talking to a publisher of arguably one of the most important fashion magazines in the world [and] they're seeking to move the brand of the publication forward through having influencers on Instagram, and it's a very different way to think about moving a brand forward rather than to more traditional broadcast media," says Bill Kanarick, global head of customer practice at Ernst & Young.

"So I think luxury brands are doing a wonderful job in building an influencer network and using platforms like Snapchat and like Instagram to move their brands into the future."