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Marketing Slow Luxury: Scotland


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MATERIAL CONTEXT CONFIDENCE ADVENTURE STORIES OWNING IT PERCEPTION SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT

STEPS TO THE NEW PARADIGM: ASPIRATIONAL COLLABORATIVE MARKETING CURRENCY

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MATERIAL CONTEXT: FROM THE LAND COMES THE CLOTH

Considering textiles and the luxury marketplace, you may be familiar with tweed, tartan, paisley and cashmere (and let’s not forget jute). Stories and images that evoke emotion, inspiration and a connection with this stunningly beautiful country often relate to the production of garment and cloth. This is because for many communities, the original cloth or fabric was connected to survival, and its production an integral part of daily life, intrinsic to the land. The cloth protected, warmed and sheltered its people from the harsh conditions. Think cable knit fisherman sweaters to waterproof and camouflaged tweeds of the Highlanders. For the most stunning take on today’s production of Harris Tweed in the Outer Hebrides, Ian Lawson’s book ‘From The Land Comes The Cloth’ embodies the people, land and time in a way which shows the dotted line between then and now.


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MATERIAL CONTEXT: FROM THE LAND COMES THE CLOTH

How do our ancient traditions meet the modern world? By engaging others with this material context.

“Everyone is so obsessed with where their food comes from these days, but is anyone asking where their snake skin belts, calf skin wallets and shagreen iPhone covers come from?” ...asked journalist, Editor-in-Chief and tastemaker, Cator Sparks, The Manual (http://www.themanual.com), where the tag line itself shows the contextual nuances of the new paradigm: ‘showing men how to live a l ife that is more engaged.’ Opposite: Cator Sparks, photographed when visiting Fiona Fraser at Gleneagles Hotel and Golf Resort, Scotland

The next step is to consider how old-world luxury brands confidently engage consumers operating in the context of a fast paced, white noise environment?


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CONFIDENCE: ENGAGED VULNERABILITY

A life engaged is one lived in a daring way, a confident way. This issue of a lack of confidence related to how Scottish companies ‘blow their own trumpet’ on the world stage is not just in my own peripheral vision but one that has been recognised by the Scottish Government, and is described in its ‘Confidence in Scotland: DISCUSSION PAPER’ 2005 as follows:

“The perceived lack of confidence in Scotland seems paradoxical in the context of the very high achievements of individual Scottish people and their historical contribution to the wider world. Not only have Scotland and Scottish people made a significant contribution in the past, but there are many examples of world-class achievements among people in Scotland today.” The world stage is increasingly vulnerable environmentally and for us as a species, while the constant noise of self-promotion and marketing activities grows louder. The definite challenge is to stand out and be heard in our world of consumer driven, social media-led conversation. How do we tell our story and share our products with grace, integrity and poise?

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CONFIDENCE: Engaged Vulnerability

The good news is that transparency, vulnerability and honest engagement are growing as the values that consumers trust the most, based upon our new socially connected world. A TED Talk video, now in the top ten of all time with over 10 million views, is that of leading academic researcher and selfstyled story teller, Brene Brown, who recognises that vulnerability is the catalyst for unlocking inspiration, innovation, creativity and change. She advises individuals and business alike to embrace this vulnerability and use it to create belief in our worthiness to ‘be’ in the space in which we aspire to and ‘dare greatly’.

Her TED talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html) on the subject went viral and is worth considering in terms of message and consumer receptivity. If we adopt Brene’s philosophy, Scottish brands accessing their vulnerability allows us to tap into a world of rich stories about luxury born from necessity, about traditional, functional and sustainable design inspiring luxury design staples, and world leading materials with a heritage, craftsmanship and quality unrivalled in today’s luxury marketplace.


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ADVENTURE: A CULTURE THAT RESONATES

Scotland’s rich history of exploration, invention and influence in industry dates back thousands of years. As early as the 1600’s, brave Scottish souls were embarking on great global adventures, leaving villages and islands by boat for an unknown future in the ‘new world’. They left the security (but poverty and hardship) of their homes and communities with nothing; not always knowing where they were going, but their strength of spirit led the way. With them, they took their stories; traditions, recipes, skills, beliefs and identity, and today, you can find Scottish Diaspora almost anywhere in the world. When you do find them, you’ll see the evidence in names, pride of heritage, recognition of Scottish places, clans and tartans. You’ll also find a deep desire to connect, to visit Scotland and to share tales of family and craft.

A voyage from the Outer Hebrides to Canada in the 1920’s


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ADVENTURE: A CULTURE THAT RESONATES

Scottish products are true, made with transparency and interwoven with the fabric of our heritage. This something that is slowly becoming a ‘known’ to the informed few, particularly due to the collaborative work of Textiles Scotland and Scottish Development International, now that this area of focus has become a priority for the Scottish Government and is being resourced in a way it never has been before. What is the market opportunity for us in using our vulnerability to ‘dare greatly’, to see the next adventure, given our knowledge of the thirst for connection with Scotland worldwide?

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STORIES: REAL STORIES OF CRAFT AND CARE ARE RELEVANT

Journalists and buyers are coming to Scotland to visit mills, experience the landscape and meet members of the luxury and local community. We are achieving coverage in many illustrious titles such as Vogue, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Women’s Wear Daily and New York Times. Brazilian and Chinese TV stations have covered and sold Scottish product, influential writers and tastemakers are developing their taste for Scottish luxury. But are we telling our stories in the way we should or are we still ‘hiding our light under a bushel’? The championing of “slow luxury” provides a framework for us to come together because it embodies all of the characteristics of our storytelling and provides an opportunity for us to access the market in a new and true way – with grace, integrity, and poise, and the strongest sense of people, place and time. We don’t have to invent our stories, we live them.

Ladies waulking wool outdoors, Outer Hebrides


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OWNING IT: ‘SHOWING IN’ RATHER THAN ‘SHOWING OFF’

The whole nature of luxury is changing. The concept of ‘ownership’ may have less and less to do with exclusivity and luxury, and more a growing sense of stewardship via collaborative ‘ownership’ and shared responsibility towards the planet’s limited resources. Brand is no longer the only driver and price is not the definition of luxury. A multitude of outlets, flash sales, multiple entry price points and excessive exposure has made traditional luxury brands too accessible. Consumers want something more than that. The days of over-the-top spending with no depth of story or intrinsic value are gone and ‘fashion spenders’ are spreading their money more thinly, spending on technology, entertainment, travel as well as fashion.

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OWNING IT: ‘SHOWING IN’ RATHER THAN ‘SHOWING OFF’

Now luxury is for us, ‘showing in’ rather than ‘showing off’, it is ‘being more’ rather than ‘having more’. Consumers want authentic, curated luxury – they are seeking emotional relevance resulting in engaging dialogue that helps them ‘live better and healthier’ – a move from category driven to lifestyle. Knowing how and who made the tools and luxuries, as evidenced by the growing ‘Maker movement’ and transparency of process is a highly regarded value. Luxury is uniqueness, longevity, quality, artisan craftsmanship, heritage and connection. Luxury is design, quality of materials, and innovation in production, refinement. Consumers buy luxury now to make a statement ‘this is how I consume’ and have an enhanced awareness of environment concerns. Opposite: The Fraser Balgowan Bothy Bag from its Heritage Collection. Each piece told a story about the connection between the people who worked on the land, the jobs they did, the product of their work and its role in their lives.

How is your brand offering a opportunity to ‘show in’?


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PERCEPTION: OWNING ORIGINALITY

“Scottish textiles brands do not have strong recognition in international markets. Furthermore, Scotland’s provenance credentials are weak in terms of brands or sectors of the industry without robust schemes in place to authenticate origin and integrity. Direct to the consumer brand promotion and channels, i.e., physical retail and online presences of Scottish textiles companies are, on the whole, also limited. * (Retail Specialist Interview, New York 2010) Scottish brands have made for others, sold through others and sold out to others. There is an apparent lack of commitment to marketing, promotion and channels that exists, out-with the very traditional activities of look book, swatches, showroom and web-based brochure. A move away from focusing singularly on transactional relationships with consumers, to develop relationships where the stories of our original conecpts, innovation and culture are interwoven into every aspect of dialogue and connection is required. This means thinking in terms of ‘service design’;

thinking through the eyes of the consumer.

Every point at which we can tell our story, share our vision, create a feeling of home, present an innovation, enhance our brand must be developed, tested, perfected and refined. We should espouse our identity, in our showrooms, on our telephones, via our website, through our packaging, by our salespeople and so on. The competition is fierce and we must never be complacent, not for a minute.


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SOCIAL ENGAGMENT: JOINING THE BRAND COMMUNITY

From Harry Winston to Tom Ford and from Louis Vuitton to Bergdorf’s, the most coveted and exclusive brands are prioritizing digital and social media marketing by embracing a cross-channel strategy, including and highlighted by a robust online presence. “Though Burberry’s Facebook community has grown beyond 10 million fans, findings from Abrams Research suggested that consumers who connect with a brand on social media spend 20% to 40% more money than those who don’t. The research also concluded that young, affluent consumers care more about a brand’s narrative than its price tags.” Luxury Society Mixing luxury with affordable and mass is now chic, fashionable and can be profitable. While luxury brands once avoided the mass conversation, now it is standard. Robust content, category expertise, thought leadership, engaging sales people, brand ambassador and craftspeople portraits, intriguing stories about design, craftsmanship, manufacture and heritage… the brand character must leave the potential customer feeling part of the brand’s community, informed, delighted and enlightened, with the ultimate desire to return.

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SOCIAL ENGAGMENT: JOINING THE BRAND COMMUNITY

Social engagement also means creating enhanced interactive and narrative content to tell the story of a brand and engage consumers in a dialogue. Today we are noticing a shift towards richer experiences and integrated campaigns. “Examples range from the surge of photography competitions (Bottega Veneta, Chloe, W Hotels); Twitter/YouTube conferences (Armani); augmented reality apps (IWC); cinematic competitions (Louis Vuitton); live-pinned fashion shows (Oscar de la Renta) and even online museums (Valentino).” Luxury Society LVMH successfully launched NOWNESS, a chic website that profiles artists, filmmakers, fashion designers, photographers and more. Barneys has recently embraced an entire network of blogs, videos and special events all under the rubric of “The Window,” including these light-hearted but effective videos of “Being Locked in Barneys” with Creative Director Simon Doonan. And at Louis Vuitton, photographer Todd Selby was enlisted to chronicle the launch of its first Chinese Maison in Shanghai. The project, entitled “Louis Vuitton Express”, followed The Selby, a popular blog chronicling the homes of tastemakers, on a multi-continent train journey traversing Paris and all of Europe and finally settling in Shanghai. Each day a short update was released on YouTube, until the Maison officially launched with a re-staging of the AW12 ready-to-wear show in Paris, on July 19th in Shanghai.


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SOCIAL ENGAGMENT: JOINING THE BRAND COMMUNITY

Scottish whisky has been given this ‘treatment’ in recent years and the most recent example, mirroring LV, is the Johnny Walker Voyager . The John Walker & Sons Voyager is travelling the globe to connect with ‘the great and the good’ – actors, sportsmen, models and business leaders who have come to define their particular fields, in fact, as Tom Jones (Johnnie Walker Global Brand Ambassador) puts it, “those who have raised the bar - who have genuinely changed the game”. This commitment to ‘changing the game’ is at the very heart of the Voyager journey. At every destination the yacht will play host to a series of high profile events and experiences that celebrate the remarkable story of innovation and progress behind each port – recognizing and celebrating those who have made such development possible. All good and well but Johnny Walker is owned by global giant Diagio, with an army of resources available for this ‘engagement’.

We don’t have to buy into all the noise that is out there but in creating our own gentle lilting voice, we must back it up with the courage of our convictions and confidence in our stories. We also have a vast creative community to tap into.


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ASPIRATIONAL COLLABORATIVE MARKETING CURRENCY TM

The Italian luxury collective, Alta Gamma, exists to promote top-quality Italian industry and the culture that supports it. The Italians get it. They are good at it. But is it any surprise given their culture? The appreciative and bold culture that invented Slow Food!

The notion of collaborative marketing is not entirely new to Scotland. Peter Lederer, Chairman of Scotland’s leading 5 star hotel and golf resort Gleneagles, and Chairman of the phenomenal Scottish silversmith Hamilton and Inches, was an integral part of a collaborative marketing initiative for Scottish luxury accommodation providers ten years ago, which endures http://www.luxuryscotland.co.uk. This approach has worked for whisky and travel brands, it can work for the other luxury offerings such as textiles, silver and interiors. Interestingly, although collaboratively marketing accommodation, the initiative does not extend to the products and ‘souvenirs’ on sale in the hotels! We believe a similar opportunity exists for brands to work with select art producers, creative talent, and even some highlyinfluential bloggers, to create a number of platforms that will deliver in the ways in which this paradigm is constucted. .A brand leading with artistic collaborations for its identity, events and engagements positions itself exactly where its consumers are. A focus on the marketing message is the first step but it most definitely doesn’t stop there. If we are to go far enough, to walk into the spotlight, we have must have the capacity and capabilities to take our offering a step further. Brand currency, identity, customer service, packaging and delivery, and a whole lot more. We have an opportunity for re-invention from the inside out to become a valued commodity in the global marketplace.


Slow luxury aspirational collaborative marketing currency