The relevant product content and a fully transparent Blockchain[i] based technology ecosystem can effectively assist Luxury Brands in building perpetual relationships & loyalty between their brands and consumers, grounded in trust, respect and transparency.
One of the weakest points in the Luxury Retail World is the lack of “true” identification of the product.[ii] Brand owners, for years, have waged a battle against counterfeiters and invested heavily in sophisticated technology solutions while, in parallel, lobbying governments to extend enforcement bodies’ powers to seize and destroy fake goods, and to prosecute buyers and dealers.
The world’s best-known brands have also invested millions in their law departments to keep brand integrity and the value of their products intact. For instance, LVMH one of world’s most respected luxury brands, reportedly employees at least 60 lawyers and spends between $17-20 million annually on anti-counterfeiting legal actions.
To put this issue into a financial context, the lack of efficient identification, missing “consumer accessed” validation and tracking systems, and unavailability of integrated tracking systems, -costs brand owners approximately $95 Billion a year in revenue in addition to suffering brand dilution and diminishing consumer trust.
In addition to the general annoyance and financial loss associated with “counterfeiting,” Luxury Brands need to deal with a notable shift in consumer behaviour in the product selection process. We see this regularly in the market and is echoed by recent industry research: luxury item consumers are putting their loyalty and trust in brands with product manufacturing processes which are fully transparent, socially responsible and where the verification of product content is accessible. Depending on the strength and nature of the brand, this shift in consumer behaviour could take place quickly or more slowly, but is broadly understood as inevitable.
In particular, the new rich of today – the Millennials – seem to base purchase preferences and brand selections on what’s “inside” the product, including how it is manufactured and transported. They weigh how the value chain has accumulated up until the point that the product, that they have heavily invested in, reaches their hands. Many socially sensitive Luxury Item buyers are even interested in sourcing stages of their products to make sure that the brand they selected is steadily raising the proportion of renewable raw materials incorporated into its products (from biodegradable glitter to fabrics made from seaweed and orange fibres), and ensuring that the brand did not engage in child labour or unfair trade practices.
Overall, the need to deliver on differentiated “content” demands for a single luxury product makes for complexity that is challenging to manage from a marketing perspective. However, the ability to do so and communicate through the product’s value chain is becoming crucial to fulfilling consumers’ changing purchasing behaviours.
In this respect, the first question for Luxury Item Brands is – how to create transparency and trust while effectively fighting counterfeiting and keeping brand integrity intact?
Having worked for 20+ years in product content management on a global scale, from my perspective, the answer is relatively challenging but NOT complicated – “having the relevant content in a fully secured and transparent technology platform that is easily accessible by consumers” is the only answer.
Then the Luxury Brands will face a second question - is it possible to have a product Content Management Platform (CMP) where relevant content can be maintained in a 100% secure environment? The answer is absolutely YES - with its immutable and tamper-proof characteristics, Blockchain, as an infrastructural technology, is uniquely positioned to enable unprecedented value and content-transfer among stakeholders within the retail/luxury product value chain in a entirely secure manner.
Let’s think about an ecosystem where starting on Manufacturing Day “0” – the day that an order is given to the manufacturing facility and when the Luxury Brand begins assembling their physical products, we create a digital sibling (a digital replica/content of the potential physical product). This sibling/content can be anything (QR Code, GTIN, Digitized Serial Number, System generated tokens…) and would be traceable in a Blockchain-based CMP throughout the supply chain.
The business objective here is to track Authenticity, Ownership and Authorization of the Value Exchange for each stakeholder including the Consumers…here is how:
- Brand owners – controlling the production, preventing counterfeiting, tracking availability, sales and ownership, prevent factory overruns, keeping the brand integrity intact
- Manufacturer (facility) – better communication with brand owners and 3PLs, providing real-time inventory and production time tables
- Retailer (store) – full visibility on product shipments, providing arrival and product details to customers in advance, managing the delivery and offering effective post-sale services such as alterations, maintenance and repair
- Customers – having 100% guarantee on product authenticity, understanding and tracking the social and sustainable efforts of the brand and corresponding production processes, being able to create and share stories about their luxury products, having an opportunity to resell the product
Let’s not forget, we are in an era of hyper-connectivity. Enabling customers to interact with the product itself where experiences and stories are openly shared and promoted could provide additional marketing value to brands, retailers and to customers who, proudly, invested in luxury products. This ecosystem powered by relevant product content and Blockchain technology is the modern way for Luxury Brands to own the product cycle from Day “0” and will allow them to track and confirm the ownership of goods even after the first-sale.
In conclusion, over the years, many LuxuryBrands have become symbols of status and privilege but have otherwise not stood for much else. But, if proper emphasis is given into the social responsibility and sustainable sourcing undergirding manufacture of its products, through providing full transparency in the value chain, Luxury Brands will be able to effectively embrace the changing needs of its customer base in the modern era. This can be enabled through 3rd party certification of fair-trade practices, and environmentally friendly manufacturing and delivery principles provided in a content platform (CMP) which consumers can access with a simple application. If adopted effectively, this will mean that the role and status of Luxury Brands will transcend its previous reputation as simple status symbols, and will additionally become synonymous with the tastes of well-established, socially responsible Global Citizens … and this can only be accomplished by - having the relevant content in a fully secured and transparent technology platform that is easily accessible by consumers.
About the Author: Nihat Arkan is an International Business Executive with 20+ years of experience in Global Content Management. He has managed several global organizations focusing on multi-disciplined business processes and new strategies in Saas / Technology, Retail, CPG, Manufacturing, Localization, Supply Chain and Logistics. Mr. Arkan has recently established World’s First Blockchain-based Content Management Platform “Yaliyomo GmbH” in Cologne Germany (www.yaliyomo.net)
[i] Tamper-proof data coordination across a permission-based Blockchain’s decentralized architecture increases security and auditability.
[ii] Luxury Products – Handbags, Wristwatches, High-end Bicycles, Clothing, Jewelry, Art, Wines.