When you think of the luxury industry, what do you think of? Intricately stitched clothes, handmade shoes, swanky hotels or technology? Probably the shoes, travel and infinity pools, right? Surprisingly, one of the key factors keeping the luxury industry buoyant is the exciting advances in technology from both established companies and start-ups alike.
So, who are some of these companies, and what is their vision for the future? Hang on…because we are going to take a look at these questions and a whole lot more!
Where is the Luxury Industry Headed?
There’s no doubt that technology and the luxury industry are increasingly intertwined. But where is the industry headed as a whole, and what role will tech play in the next year or so? Luxury Society expresses the view that 2015 was a “transformative year for the luxury industry” globally thanks to new technologies and digital advances.
They also claim that shifts in media, marketing and wealth had a major impact on the industry which was worth $317 billion in 2015.
The Spaces & Retail Editor at Stylus, Katie Baron, believes that consumers now prefer experience over ownership and value factors such as “unpredictability, choice, impulse and…surprise”. She goes on to say that, “Luxury brands are especially well-placed to exploit this… by investing in cutting-edge technologies that seamlessly blend digital and physical worlds to deliver ultra-immersive forms of explorative retail engagement” Brands need to entertain, educate and enable.
So, what do the start ups say? While Switzerland is known world wide for luxury goods, it is also becoming a hang out for tech minded entrepreneurs. Rayform is a local start up who won the IMD annual start up competition in 2015/2016.
Rayform provides a service that allows the integration of “light redirection technology into luxury products, allowing the products to form highly detailed images by reflection or refraction when illuminated”. In other words, companies catering to the luxury market can incorporate RayformTM technology into their existing or new products. The applications for jewelry, glassware, interior décor and a myriad other areas within the luxury industry are dazzling.
Rayform’s Vision of the Future
So, how does this position Rayform? When asked about the current trends in the market, Dr. Yuliy Schwartzburg, Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of Rayform, responded, “that the luxury industry is moving towards individual pieces even if the technology behind it is scalable in mass. This makes the consumer feel like they’re receiving something special and not mass produced”. The spokesman gave the example of Absolut who produced the Unique line where, although there were 4 million produced, every bottle had unique packaging.
What is the Role of Technology TODAY?
Rayform has an interesting take on the role of technology in the luxury industry: “Right now, it is embraced as long as it is behind-the-scenes–if it simply makes production more efficient or improves the mechanisms… But we think it’ll become more and more important in the final product as well. It just requires developing technologies that reinforce the aesthetics and emotion of luxury rather than detract from it”, says Schwartzburg who has a PhD in Computer Graphics and Digital Fabrication from Swiss Federal institute of Technology and developed the algorithm and software at the core of Rayform.
What Does the Future Hold?
In terms of the future of tech in the luxury industry, he sees “the luxury industry embracing technology a bit more, although there will definitely be push back... We’re living in a time where the consumer industry’s innovations are taking time to move up to luxury, rather than the other way around and there’s no reason this should be the case. We see the Rayform technology, for example, as requiring the brand to have a bit of an innovative spirit, but with the potential to reap huge benefits”.
Where do the Luxury Tech Lovers Hang Out?
If you are interested in seeing or trying out some of the exciting new luxury products, attending an event or industry show is a useful—and fun—thing to do. Perhaps the show of 2016 was the Luxury Technology Show (LTS) held in New York in March.
This event features “the latest innovations from some of the most prestigious and cutting edge technology brands from around the world. Product categories include… photography, home & business electronics, health & wellness, automotive, accessories, mobile devices, tablets, home audio, high-end appliances, smart watches, racing simulators & beyond”. Diarize the LTS for 2017!
Gretchen Shaw is an author, blogger and entrepreneur with a penchant for baking. She is passionate about communication, continued learning and connecting people. You can follow her on Twitter: @shawgret