Communications Collective’s director Genevieve Brannigan discusses good design, craftsmanship and the rise of luxury in Australia.
What are the most significant trends sweeping the luxury sector in Australia at present?
While luxury brands, both local and international have long had a presence in Australia – think Melbourne’s ‘Paris’ end of Collins Street, or Sydney’s ultra-high end Westfield complex in the CBD – we have seen the luxury goods sector grow even more rapidly this year.
Global luxury conglomerates such as LVMH, Kering and Richemont have all turned their attention to Australian shores to expand their bricks and mortar stores in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, as reported by AFR earlier this year. Burberry, Le Labo and Saint Laurent opened boutiques in Melbourne this year, to name but a few, with a long list of international brands also vying for shopfronts of their own, including Carolina Herrera, Moncler and Breitling.
It’s not just the luxury goods sector that is undergoing growth. This trend is being seen through a range of industries, including property. Buyers are increasingly educated and discerning when it comes to purchasing or investing in property, and a host of beautifully designed, meticulously crafted new developments have arrived in the market this year. One such example comes from our client ICON Developments, which recently launched its George & Powlett project in the prime location of East Melbourne. This type of development, with its strong focus on design, materiality and opportunity for customisation, is setting a new benchmark for apartments at the top end of the market.
What does luxury mean to you?
Having spent the first decade of my career working globally in fashion and design in Australia, Europe, Asia, the US and UK, I have seen up-close how some of the world’s most prestigious brands operate and succeed. Ultimately, luxury for me is linked to excellence in design – a sector we work in widely at Communications Collective, whether through interiors, architecture or luxury goods. And good design is, quite simply, a part of any objet d’art, from a finely crafted watch, to a painting or a building.
Design affects every aspect of our lives – the way people live, work and play. It’s also highly contextual, and what I love about good design is its ability and requirement to be both pragmatic in its purest form, and emotive. It should draw inspiration from our physicality, culture and practical requirements, as well as our landscape, its forms, textures, materials and quality of light.
What is Communications Collective’s role working in the luxury sector?
Whether working in the realms of the built environment, architecture and design, art, culture or luxury, Communications Collective’s approach since establishment is grounded in highly creative and strategic campaigns. We work to find the unique brand story of each business, and shape our communications strategies based on intelligent, well-researched and planned narratives.
In luxury, it is about delivering a seamless brand experience, which I am incredibly passionate about. I adore finding each brand’s unique narrative, and discovering brand stories, including the people, their passion, and what inspired their products and services, and then working collaboratively to shape their communications strategies based on this care and attention to detail.
What has changed about the way customers engage with luxury brands over the years?
It’s no longer sufficient to offer a mere point of sale – if customers are going to take the time to visit a store in person, the experience should be immersive, tactile and just as luxurious as the product they are purchasing. In other words, while online shopping is convenient and easy, brands need to consider what value is added for customer to make their purchase in person.
The whole brand experience is crucial, beyond just the products and services. Each touch point must reflect a brand’s unique identity, from the way customers are greeted, to the way stores engage with customer’s senses. You can have the best advertising campaign in the world, but it all falls over if each brand’s touch points are not perfect, consistent and true.
What opportunities are there for luxury brands looking to make their debut or grow their presence in the Australian market?
Australia is, of course, no stranger to luxury, and already has a globally excellent reputation for design. We are lucky to be home to a wide range of incredible talent in fashion and design at large, as well as beautiful natural materials, such as wool, that are in high demand all over the world. The opportunity for our wonderful Australian-based brands is about focusing on their unique brand stories, and sharing these narratives in creative and engaging ways not just through social, digital and traditional media, but through events and brand experiences that connect their brand directly with their audiences.
Luxury brands from abroad have also recognised Australia’s growing appetite for finely crafted fashion, fine jewellery and accessories, and want to share their brand stories and heritage in a real, tangible way – and not just via their websites. There is a great opportunity and space in the market here for luxury brands to connect with the ever-stylish, globally aware and avid followers of fashion here in Australia.