CEO Letter | Why Walpole’s Festival of Luxury Marketing is the navigation tool you need for the post-pandemic luxury landscape

Six months into the pandemic, luxury’s leaders are learning to live with uncertainty. A sector that has always cleverly balanced creative entrepreneurship with heritage, tradition and a long-term view has changed and adapted with extraordinary rapidity and enormous courage. Strategy shifts that would once have been discounted as too radical are now the norm. Brands have accelerated long-term digital plans and achieved in months what would ordinarily have taken years.


And if the inner workings of Britain’s luxury brands have changed, so too has the luxury consumer. How has lockdown changed luxury habits? When luxury customers are still only taking very tentative steps out of their homes and into the world, how do you sustain an intimate, joyful, trusted and high touch relationship? What does luxury even mean in a time of necessity? And, crucially, what does the new post pandemic luxury consumer want right now?

One thing is certain: What got you here won’t get you there. Fresh, creative thinking, powerful new insights, and expert guidance are what you need to navigate a radically changed world and this is what has inspired Walpole to put together the inaugural Festival of Luxury Marketing.

Running from 7th to 11th September, and hosted entirely online, the Walpole Festival of Luxury Marketing offers 14 thought-provoking sessions over five days (which you can watch live or later on catch-up), programmed to reflect, challenge and illuminate the fundamental changes we have observed during the crisis.

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Our week opens with a rallying cry from Farrah Storr, award-winning Editor-in-Chief of ELLE UK, social mobility champion and author of The Discomfort Zone, asking how to build a luxury brand with heart and why she believes “constraint is the secret to unlocking true creativity” and why “there’s no such thing as an impossible situation. There are only brief moments of discomfort contained within it.” Wise yet provocative words for our brave new world, and ones that inform the programme for the week.

Day One (7th September) – the New Luxury Customer – continues with an exploration of how the luxury consumer has rapidly evolved: who they are, what they want, and how you can unlock your story in a way that will resonate with them most powerfully. Bain & Co. will identify the dominant consumer trends brought out by the pandemic, and The Future Laboratory will shine a light on the luxury tribes that have emerged. And strategy guru, Kevin Chesters, asks if Brand Britain is still a priceless asset: Kevin Chesters’ Ted-style talks are always a masterclass in brand positioning, and as an added bonus he will be in conversation with Dan Ramsay, director of the government’s GREAT campaign – caught as we are between the Scylla of COVID-19 and the Charybdis of Brexit, this promises to be high-octane stuff.

Day two – the New Language of Luxury – asks how luxury’s tone of voice has changed and why it’s more distinctive than ever, with specially commissioned research from Black Tomato and a panel discussion that includes Manolo Blahnik, Belmond, Jessica McCormack and Handcut Studios. Sessions from social agency Fifth (part of News UK), the BBC and Sunshine look at how an emphasis on digital, social and broadcast media mean luxury communications must be a dialogue between consumer and brand, and never a soliloquy.

Day three takes on the Hyper-acceleration of Digital Luxury: Join Burberry, DREST and Spring Studios for a deep dive into AI, live streaming and social commerce as powerful emerging platforms for luxury, and we ask experts from Farfetch, Facebook, Thom Browne and William Grant & Son to give us their steer on how to maximise the returns of the pandemic’s digital pivot.

On Day four, Thursday 10th September, we look east, with help from Walpole partner and China expert, TONG Digital. Luxury in Greater China and south east Asia has recovered more rapidly from the Crisis than Europe and the West – and  Royal Salute, dunhill, Johnstons of Elgin, Garrard, and Bluebell group will join us to share the learnings that can help all luxury marketeers unlock their China opportunity.

And finally, on Friday 11th, it’s all about Purpose, and why luxury brands need to not only identify their purpose, but hard-wire it into every aspect of their brand if they’re to make the leap into the hearts, souls and minds of the new consumer. Opening the day is a huge piece of international research from Sunshine which illustrates the new gen mindset, and examines why purpose and identity will future proof your brand. Plus interviews with ROKSANDA’s CEO Jamie Gill on why luxury starts from the inside out, and is built on diversity,  and Beatrice Hodgkin of FT How to Spend it, on why the new mantra is How to Spend it Wisely.

There are also opportunities to meet virtually with your fellow Festival delegates after each session, to discuss what you’ve heard and to share your own experience, alongside some special networking events courtesy of Royal Salute and Chapel Down. More details on these will be shared separately.

A full week’s pass – all fourteen talks, plus the extra networking sessions – costs just £125 for Walpole members, or you can buy a day pass for £35. The Festival is also open to non-Walpole members for £225 for the week, or £55 a day. Please keep an eye on the Walpole Daily Luxury Digest for more detail on speakers and on specific sessions.

Walpole’s mission is to promote, protect and develop luxury in the UK, and the new Festival of Luxury Marketing is designed to give you the tools to develop your luxury brand in a changed world. I hope you can join us at the Festival.

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HELEN

HELEN BROCKLEBANK
Chief Executive | Walpole

The official sector body for British luxury

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