Seeking to maintain their exclusive status, many luxury brands steered clear of Cyber Weekend discounting. For luxury shoppers looking for a deal, their best bet was to look into retailers that might be offering a better incentive to shop over the holiday weekend.
Gucci and Louis Vuitton, the two brands earning a Genius distinction in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Fashion Global, excused themselves from the holiday, offering no Black Friday promotion through their owned channels. Instead, most discounts in this sector came from retailers like Farfetch and Matchesfashion, which often excluded the most prestigious brands. Bloomingdales, for example, offered 25% off on marked products through Tuesday. However, brands like Gucci were excluded from the sale.
Though in-store sales fell about 2% overall, online sales jumped a whopping 24% year-over-year. Furthermore, fashion was the second-most-online-shopped category on Black Friday, beaten only by electronics. As electronics have long been the crown jewel of Black Friday, second is not a bad place for fashion to be. Some of this uptick might be explained by the extension of the shopping spree in recent years from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, with some deals even still going on through the following week.
For luxury brands specifically, this trend underlines the importance of incentivizing consumers to shop on their own branded sites. Even though brands may want to dissociate from the discounts and sales traditionally associated with the Black Friday weekend, it’s increasingly important for them to think about what they offer consumers compared to multi-brand retailers—not just through discounts, but also through exclusivity or loyalty programs. Adoption remains low, with only 4% of brands tracked by Gartner L2 advertising a branded loyalty program on-site, though many brands have added loyalty-like benefits.
The trend also highlights the growing importance of e-commerce and the need for brands to shift spend towards digital. As e-commerce continues to grow, brands need to ensure that they provide the online luxury experience consumers expect. While neither of these trends are new to luxury fashion brands, they’re only becoming more important, especially heading into the end-of-year shopping season. Will more luxury brands try to take advantage of the holidays, or will they rest back on the idea that luxury fashion doesn’t go on sale?