It would be apt to say the convergence of fashion and consumer tech is definitely in vogue. More and more CE brands are seeking to collaborate with up-and-coming to well-known fashion houses to not only increase consumer reach, but align themselves with brands with built-in cachet.
Wearable tech manufacturers, who are among the early adopters of this strategy, are becoming increasingly aware of the consumer’s desire to express themselves through not only the clothes they wear but the tech they use. Case in point, Master & Dynamic recently partnered with Louis Vuitton to release a unique collection of wireless earphones.
The idea of blending tech and fashion has been a around for a few years now. In 2014, Opening Ceremony, a luxury fashion house, collaborated with Intel to launch a luxury smart bracelet. Because technology plays a major part in our daily lives, it made sense to all parties involved that a technological product should not only perform but look good also. Of course this opens up new distribution channels as well. In the case of the aforementioned Opening Ceremony-Intel collaboration, MICA, select Barneys locations offered the luxury accessory.
Extending beyond wearables, newcomer AVITA have applied this same principle to their newly released laptops. While laptops are seen as a commodity most people own, AVITA have applied unique and fashionable colors, which easily distinguish them from their monochromatic counterparts. As evidenced by their photography on their website, AVITA has chosen a lifestyle approach using a diverse group of people to showcase their product offerings.
Of course, in order to effectively market these fashion-centric devices, CE brands must also change and adapt a more strategic approach to their marketing efforts. For many in the tech space, millennials or “bridge millennials,” defined as those between the ages of 30 and 40, are going to be their core audience. Craving unique experiences and brands who value a personalized relationship, millennials present a new, albeit exciting, challenge for CE brands looking to reach new customers and eventually foster ambassadorship.
I would posit that there are three main takeaways from collaborations such as these:
1. Realize the importance of aesthetic and functionality.
The product you design and sell still has to perform. Furthermore, no collaboration will save a product that doesn’t first fulfill its intended purpose. This also means both companies, tech and luxury, work together closely to maintain brand integrity, look and feel.
2. Create an emotional attachment between the brand and the consumer.
I briefly touched on this earlier; as important as it is to have a great product that fulfills a need, it is also tantamount to effectively speak to your brand’s audience. Whether through a personalized campaign or advocating sustainability measurements, millennials (probably your core audience) are constantly looking for brands that connect with them. Research shows brand loyalty is low among millennials, making this point even more dire.
3. Luxury brands are not dead.
According to a recent survey conducted by investment bank and financial services company UBS, “eighteen to 35 year olds have contributed 85 percent to growth in the luxury market last year and will represent 45 percent of total high-end spending by 2025.” The research goes on to show that Chinese millennials allocate 20 percent of their discretionary income to luxury goods.
Will the strategy of melding a fashion and tech brand together work for everyone? Probably not. However, it does pose an interesting opportunity and challenge for brands looking to increase product market share and brand reach.
Michael Honeycutt is the Director of Marketing for Alco Electronics, a brand that designs, manufactures, and sells consumer electronic products across a range of categories.