Interview Spotlight: The Science of Trend Forecasting in the Luxury Industry
Interview with Victoria Buchanan, Strategic Researcher at The Future Laboratory
As a strategic researcher, Victoria specialises in future thinking and consumer research, helping brands to be more prepared for the future by giving them the tools to take the decisions today that will create economic, environmental and social growth tomorrow. When not in The Future Laboratory studio in Shoreditch, analysing the new and the next, she can be found roaming the globe from New York to Tokyo, seeking out the most exciting innovations.
Ahead of Trend on Thursday the 6th of April, Victoria shares her thoughts on how luxury brands are shifting to attract to the new generation of consumers.
Her current passions include serendipity, sustainability and social collaboration and she hopes that one day her grandchildren will laugh that there was ever a gender pay gap.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and when you started at The Future Laboratory.
I discovered Trend Forecasting in my first year of studying fashion marketing at university when I was given a copy of The Trend Forecasters handbook, written by my now boss Martin Raymond. Opening that book was sort of like finding out another dimension existed. I was then lucky that Martin gave me a job, and under his watchful eye I’ve honed my prediction skills and I’m now a strategic researcher, with a specialism in retail and beauty. I really believe that the science of future forecasting is fast becoming a necessary skill, where we read signals, see trends and ruthlessly test our own assumptions. Our ethos at The Future Laboratory is to help more businesses be more prepared for the future.
2. What behavioural changes are you seeing in the luxury market?
The very concept of luxury is under attack as consumers grow tired of brands talking about heritage and demand a more inspiring vision. Consumers are demanding a future-facing vision from their brands. They want to feel that their consumption has a higher purpose and is contributing towards a future that they can feel proud of and invest in.
Our 2016 Luxury Index reveals that 23% of all respondents feel that traditional ads have no influence over their brand preferences and buying behaviour today, while 41% say that they value greater levels of honesty from brands, as well as humour and light-heartedness (21%).
3. Which luxury brands would you say have better adapted to the new generation of consumers?
I would praise Gucci for pioneering a spirit of playfulness, collaboration and experimentation.
The brand’s latest campaign is based around internet memes and it follows the launch of other digitally focused Gucci projects, including #GucciGram and#24HourAce, and is another attempt to tap into youth thinking and internet culture since the hiring of its new creative director Alessandro Michele.
4. What can luxury brands learn from the digital sphere?
The explosion of digital has had a double impact on luxury communications. Firstly, documentation imagery – once seen as low-priority social-media fodder – now drives campaigns. To be truly impactful, campaigns have to play by the visual conventions of Instagram and encourage engagement and sharing.
The second impact comes directly from the technology itself, which has given birth to the ‘phygital’ phenomenon – a strategy that deploys both digital and physical messaging to engage the new breed of luxurian. Garage magazine created a bold physical-digital vision last year with its cover for its eighth issue. Fashion director Charlotte Stockdale collaborated with visual-effects designers The Mill on several covers that came alive when viewed through a bespoke app. Holding an app-activated mobile over the cover causes the model’s face to rise in a 3D holographic, cuing a digital show complete with sound effects from producer Alex da Kid. A range of models from Cara Delevingne to Lara Stone wore makeup by Pat McGrath and headphones from Beats by Dre, that then became 3D objects.
5. What are your thoughts about influencer marketing? Do you think micro influencers will gain terrain in this marketing field?
Consumers are becoming less tolerant of product placement and heavily scripted ads so influencer marketing is enabling brands to engage with fiercely loyal communities in an authentic and seamless way. Brands are shifting from celebrity to community as research shows that real engagement comes from a smaller but far more involved segment of followers. We are in an age when the tastemakers featured can be as important as the brand or platform. I’d love to see more brands experimenting with new formats like Semaine, which brings together shoppable editorial content with influencers and tastemakers.
Victoria will be joining the panel at Trend on Thursday the 6th of April. Don’t miss her discussing how luxury brands are appealing to millennial consumers with Diana Verde Nieto, co-founder and CEO of Positive Luxury. Last few tickets remain. Reserve your place today! trendevents.co.uk