The luxury industry in the Arabian Gulf is undergoing major disruptions that are driven by changing consumer demands, the rise of the ‘new consumers such as the millennials and the emergence of disruptive technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IOT.
These were some of the broad contours of discussions at the fifth edition of Arab luxury world, the Middle East’s leading conference on the business of luxury, that started off on May 8 at JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, under the theme ‘New Consumer, Consumption and Change’.
Organised by Mediaquest Corp.
The first day of the event began with the regional outlook of the luxury sector delivered by Cyrille Fabre, Partner, Bain & Company.
“Most top global apparel brands have a physical presence in the Middle East region but lack online supply chain,” says Fabre said in his address.
He said one of the paradoxes of the GCC luxury sector is that while on the one hand there is a high online presence but, on the other hand, there is the low e-commerce penetration.
The next session was the panel discussion moderated by Julien Hawari, CEO, Mediaquest Corp on the theme of ‘The New Consumer’.
The panel discussion was followed by the keynote address by Julien Tornare, CEO Zenith, Swiss branch of LVMH.
“Brands shouldn’t go too fast on e-commerce, and need to be careful,” he said while delivering a speech on ‘Expectation of new consumers’.
The rise of the new consumer
Arab luxury world is a luxury event like no other, not because it brings industry’s best to discuss and debate the latest in trends and strategies, but also because it takes the pulse of the industry, especially how consumers look at and spend on lifestyle products.
What is shaping the new consumer, in terms brand expectations, be it watches, cars or high fashion?
Well, apparently a lot.
Today’s consumer acquires experience in lifestyle products not only through touch, but also digitally, technologically, and psychologically.
Vadim de Grainville, luxury & culture Brand Strategist at Mat Creative, said that culture is today the theme through which luxury brands make their biggest statement.
“If the product doesn’t address a person’s cultural heritage, it will not prosper as a brand, as people will feel disengaged,” said Grainville.
Technology, consumers, and luxury
Consumers today are digitally driven and are looking at how technology is playing a part in luxury.
The simplest examples are in the fields of watches and automobile manufacturing. Watches use precision to capture time and history.
AMEinfo interviewed Zenith watches’ CEO Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith, who heads a company transitioning from one with time-honored traditions, no pun intended, to one catering to a dynamic new generation that molds with and embraces change.
“The vision we have is to rejuvenate and inject new energy through innovation, says Tornare.
Markus Leithe, MD, Infinity Middle East told AMEinfo that the car manufacturer is now appealing to a generation of consumers who are not buying luxury for the “show off” factor.
“Infinity is a luxury brand but we connect to consumers on levels that address safe journeys, and where technology, be it AI, or autonomous driving, is an enabler that propels people forward, more than scoring bragging points over others,” explains Leithe.
It’s easy to think of luxury products, but not luxury cities.
But that’s exactly what happened when AMEinfo met with Fahd Al- Rasheed, Group CEO and Managing Director of Saudi King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).
“We participated in this event because cities have something to say about luxury, and Saudi is building the next destinations in luxury and entertainment in many of its cities,” said Al-Rasheed.