It is hard to believe that the year is coming to an end, and that many are celebrating Christmas week and pre-New Year’s celebrations. But even during this time, luxury stories and trends news do not stop. Here are some examples of designs, products, and trends that are alive and well during this holiday season.
Google’s self-driving car unveiled
This week, Google revealed its self-driving car will be ready to hit the road in the New Year. The driverless car looks a lot like the early prototype that Google unveiled in May. But that didn’t include working headlights, while the new version will be ready to drive around.
The car is going to be driving around Google’s test track over the holiday period, before taking to the roads Google’s homeland of Northern California in the New Year. Safety drivers, who have access to temporary manual controls when the car needs it, will control the car.
Google engineers hope that eventually, the inside of the car will just be two seats, seatbelts, a place for luggage, buttons to start and stop the car and a screen that shows the route. Since the car was first unveiled earlier in the year, the company has been working on both typical car parts, like steering and breaking, and the engineering required to make the car able to drive itself, such as the sensors inside and the computer that will power it.
Maybe A Late Gift? The Lego Kit for Architects
We may have missed Christmas, but there is always the New Year, birthdays, and other celebrations where this gift may be just the thing. It is an all-white Lego kit for architects, that was released by the Lego Architecture Studio in Europe this year. This week, the arch/design website Dezeen let us know how popular this product is in the US, as it attracted a fresh flurry of comments on its site, after one reader suggested it would be the ideal present for adults.
Unique Moon-Themed Holiday Lights From An Arch/Design Studio
Architecture studio Brut Deluxe has designed this year’s Christmas lights in Madrid to work like, in their words, “a flip book on an urban scale” taking spectators on a trip to the moon as they walk through the city. The perception of the lights changes along the route, meaning that taking the time to walk its entire length is the only way to experience the installation in full.
Banners of gridded blue lights strung high above the street feature a white-cratered moon design in the centre, which becomes larger and appears to get gradually closer to Christmas shoppers strolling beneath.
“Instead of flipping through pages with your thumb to produce a primitive cinematographic illusion of motion, it is the spectator that creates this effect by moving himself along the street. The sequence of light motifs produces an effect of arrival or zooming in to the moon, coinciding with the rise of the street, and inversely, of departure or zooming out with the descent,” said Ben Busche, lead architect of Brut Deluxe.
The installation will be in place until 6 January 2015, Twelfth Night.
Jing Daily’s Five Predictions Concerning China’s Luxury Market: Defining Masstige And Beyond
1. Chinese luxury spending will remain slow on the mainland but high across the world.
Thanks to a confluence of factors, China’s domestic luxury market growth sunk to a dismal negative 1 percent this year. This doesn’t mean Chinese consumers have stopped spending: they’ve just taken it overseas, where they can avoid high tariffs as well as the watchful eyes of the Chinese government as its anti-corruption campaign moves on.
Meanwhile, the “China Price” of imported luxury goods remains high, as the Chinese government doesn’t seem ready to lower tariffs, even though Chinese officials have shown some concessions in order to keep luxury shoppers in China. As one example, they allowed the world’s largest duty-free mall to open in Hainan this year. Nonetheless, many luxury boutiques in China’s cities will function merely as showrooms for jet-setting Chinese shoppers in 2015, as long as tariffs remain largely intact across the country.
The notable exception to this trend is the comparatively inexpensive masstige segment aimed at China’s growing middle class, which is buoying brands such as Michael Kors, Coach, Kate Spade, and Longchamp, as well as a developing market for discount outlet shopping and secondhand sales.
Masstige is a portmanteau word, meaning mass prestige. Masstige products are defined as premium but attainable. With masstige, there are two key dimensions: (1) They are considered luxury or premium products and (2) They have price points that fill the gap between mid-market and super premium.
This is what China’s growing middle class is looking for, and will surely receive in the coming year.
2. Luxury retailers will up their e-tail game.
China’s e-commerce market may be booming, but it’s a confusing landscape for image-conscious luxury brands. Despite the fact that China’s wealthy luxury customers are on average younger and more willing to embrace new technology, many high-end brands refuse to sacrifice their in-store experience by opening up shop online. In many cases, change comes slowly as e-commerce is seen as a high risk for brands with long legacies to protect.
In addition to facing issues with mobile optimization, convenient payment systems, and reliable shipping with their own online shops, brands need to decide if they’re going to start selling on other e-commerce platform Brands are only starting to develop their response to these market trends, but 2015 will be the year that more labels develop clearer strategies to keep their brand DNA intact while embracing emerging technologies.
3. Consumer tastes shift from self-expression to self-fulfillment
Jing Daily says a growing contingent of sophisticated Chinese luxury consumers will care more about fulfilling inner desires than showing outward status in 2015. Chinese luxury consumers are more likely to spend their money on travel than on luxury goods. There is also with an emerging demand for items with special meaning — art and antiques — as well.
4. Quality trumps quantity when it comes to marketing strategies.
When microblogging platform Weibo reigned as the key social media marketing platform in China, social marketing efforts were directed almost exclusively toward viral sharing.
Now that mobile messaging app WeChat is overshadowing Weibo in China, brands will need to focus on the quality of their message rather than the quantity of reposts. The brands that will succeed will be the ones who get their VIP customers to share quality information with 10 of their closest friends rather than 100 random followers.
5. Big data hits luxury in China.
The rise of WeChat and e-commerce in China’s luxury market means that brands will have more details on their consumers’ demands and shopping habits than ever before. Expect a growing number of brands to utilize digital tools to improve CRM, track in-store customer engagement, and pinpoint VIP customers in order to improve their Chinese clients’ experience as well as brand loyalty.
Bulgari In India
Bulgari recently opened a 1,800-square-foot store in New Delhi’s DLF Emporio mall.
Bulgari’s Indian market grew at 30 percent in 2013 to $8.5 billion. It’s expected to reach $14 billion by 2016, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.
“Bulgari is increasingly interested in expanding its Indian presence, bearing in mind that in the past we were present through a franchisee partner,” Jean-Christophe Babin, Buglari’s chief executive officer, said. “This new business joint venture allows for a complete Bulgari brand experience with the opening of a boutique showcasing the four dimensions of Bulgari — jewelry, luxury watches, premium accessories and high-end perfumes.”
Bulgari jewelry was available in India from 2004 to 2011, according to Women’s Wear Daily. But the luxury firm gave up on India, apparently disappointed with the results. “The retail environment just wasn’t right at that time,” Babin said, “But today, it’s a different story: There are now luxury mall projects, besides Emporio [New Delhi] and UB City [Bangalore], which will appeal to our targeted customer base.”
Sad News: NO ROME Couture Week This Winter
The Italian haute couture circuit is being put on hold this winter. The biannual AltaRoma couture week, scheduled to take place from January 31 to February 2, has been canceled due to a lack of funding. The Roman couture week has become known for fostering young talent and celebrating Italian craftsmanship. Their “Who Is On Next?” program, in partnership with Vogue Italia, has become a launch pad for emerging designers on the Italian landscape.
However, the summer edition of AltaRoma, which is still slated to run from July 11 to 15, is expected to take place as scheduled.