Today we have the great pleasure of talking with Simon Beauloye, co-founder & CTO of mOOnshot digital, a luxury digital marketing agency headquartered in Singapore. Simon is working with some of the largest and most established luxury brands in Asia, helping them navigate an exciting time of digital transformation within their organisations.
Prior to joining mOOnshot digital, Simon worked at Google for over ten years across Europe, the Middle-East, and Asia. In his last position at Google, Simon was leading a $1B+ global business, managing the international marketing team for publisher solutions.
Aside from mOOnshot digital, Simon is a board member and mentor for several startups in Singapore. His portfolio includes businesses in technology, e-commerce, media, and education.
Simon is also the distinguished recipient of countless awards, including Asia’s Top 50 Brand Leaders Award that recognises talented leaders with a visionary approach, and the Better than the Best Google Award delivered by Google’s Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer to honour those who have made a particularly outstanding contribution to Google.
Luxe Digital: Hello Simon, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. It’s great to have you as one of our first guests for this opinion series featuring digital and luxury thought leaders.
Simon: Thanks Samantha, great to be here.
Luxe Digital: Your entire career has been very much at the avant-garde of digital, first at Google and now at mOOnshot digital. What are your views on the luxury industry at the moment?
Simon: It’s been fascinating for me to work more closely with luxury brands since joining mOOnshot digital. My experience for the past year has certainly changed some of the preconceptions I’ve had about the industry.
What I’m seeing across the board are companies with rich traditions and, oftentimes, a long history of successfully conducting their business in a certain manner. The particular care and attention that they pay to their products and services are very impressive. Most companies in the luxury industry are vertically integrated to guarantee the same level of craftsmanship throughout the entire customer experience.
That’s very different from the digital-first technology companies that I work with. Technology businesses are usually eager to delegate anything that isn’t core to their operations to third-parties.
That integration and attention to detail characteristic of the luxury industry provide high-end companies with significant leverage and power. When the entire organisation has a clear vision and understanding of what needs to be delivered, luxury brands are uniquely positioned to deliver flawless execution against their vision. And this can be seen across the entire customer experience.
As a digital agency, this is most visible to us in the marketing campaigns that we run for our clients. These campaigns, in most cases, articulate strong messaging around core brand values and play deeply on consumer emotions. The exceptional level of visual and content quality that is required to support these campaigns is what makes our job interesting.
There are obviously pros and cons to the luxury industry’s approach to digital. It is worth noting that even though luxury brands historically value heritage and tradition, as companies are fighting to remain competitive, they do understand the need to evolve and embrace change.
Luxe Digital: That’s an excellent segue to our next question. What do you consider to be the biggest threat to the luxury industry in Asia?
Simon: Most consumers in Asia were exposed to international luxury brands only a generation or so ago. Because of this, consumers often don’t have the same personal history with luxury brands as those in Western countries might have. The research we’ve conducted at mOOnshot digital certainly suggests lower brand loyalty in Asia compared to other regions. As a result, luxury sales are significantly more affected by rapidly shifting trends. And these trends are usually defined by influencers who are outside of the traditional realm of legacy luxury brands.
Digital thus poses a new challenge for luxury brands who see customers in Asia rapidly moving from one brand to another. A lack of brand loyalty means that digital newcomers can quickly gain scale and market shares when they are able to be at the forefront of customer trends.
It’s important to point out as well that although some of these new companies position themselves as high-end brands, in reality, they have very little to show for it in terms of quality or authenticity. We’ve seen countless examples of companies inventing their history out of thin air and focusing all their attention on branding and marketing instead of delivering a remarkable product to their clients. This is damaging for the industry as a whole, as the perceived value of luxury goods for consumers can be negatively affected as a result.
Once digital transformation starts gaining momentum, we can develop the right marketing strategy for luxury brands to grow.
Luxe Digital: What can luxury brands in Asia do to have a stronger voice online and to shape these trends?
Simon: The single most important thing, from my experience, is for luxury companies to have a strong internal vision and willingness to operate a digital transformation of their business. It’s not an easy thing to do for large organisations. But if that vision is in place, then everything else becomes easier. Senior leadership and marketing teams can more rapidly take decisions by understanding if they are aligned with the company’s vision.
Once that digital transformation starts gaining momentum internally, we can develop the right marketing strategy for luxury brands to grow. In that regard, one of the biggest opportunities that I’m seeing is around customer data, digital relationship management, and personalisation.
Luxury brands often have a significant competitive advantage with the sheer size of their physical presence. If you look at most luxury retail stores in Asia, they attract a lot more visitors than their European or North American counterparts. Most of these visitors are coming to experience the brand and be delighted.
I think there is a largely untapped opportunity for luxury brands to actively collect and manage consumer information, and offer a tailored digital experience that is on par with the quality of their products.
This is not just pre-sale. The post-sale engagement is just as critical to developing a deeper relationship with each client, one that is personalised and bespoke thanks to carefully executed marketing automation.
Luxe Digital: Based on the above, what are your thoughts on the future of the luxury industry in Asia?
Simon: I don’t expect radical changes to happen overnight, but there is a growing trend of winners and losers in the Asian luxury industry. The digital transformation of the field is only accelerating that trend. It’s never too late for a brand to re-calibrate, but it will become increasingly complicated for those who aren’t already in the digital game to finance a large-scale transformation.
In parallel, customers in Asia are becoming gradually more apt at understanding and identifying true value. As new consumers in emerging markets gain access to the purchasing power necessary to access high-end brands, and as information is more easily accessible and shareable, luxury companies that are able to offer superb quality and a brand that consumers can identify with will grow.
There is plenty of room for newcomers to gain market shares in that space by offering new products with a focused digital marketing strategy. The challenge is in finding an authentic voice and delivering a product that is rooted in quality and craftsmanship. On the other hand, more established luxury companies have the resources and credibility to achieve broader reach, but their internal processes will remain their true challenge.
Luxe Digital: Thank you so much for your nuanced perspective, Simon. I would like to end this interview by leaving our readers with a bit of insight into your decision to invest in the creation of Luxe Digital and your aspiration for the site.
Simon: We’re lucky at mOOnshot digital to be at the forefront of the luxury industry’s digital transformation. Every day we see the successes and failures of companies as they adapt their operating models for new customer expectations.
With the launch of Luxe Digital, our goal is to help the senior leadership teams and marketing executives of premium and luxury brands to navigate the digital transformation of their business. We want to equip leaders and entrepreneurs with the right tools. We want to generate new conversations. We want to ask the hard questions that are necessary for the long-term survival of a business.
There are several excellent publications that are already discussing the business of luxury, but none that is specifically articulated around the digital transformation of the sector. We want to leverage our a vast network of experts and professionals to help luxury leaders with their decision making.
And quite frankly, we’re also very proud of the excellent team of copywriters that we have at mOOnshot digital and we wanted to challenge them with a new project :)
A few words that say a lot:
- A book that influenced your life
I’m an avid reader, so there are so many books that have influenced me. One that comes to mind now is “Miyamoto Musashi” by Eiji Yoshikawa. It’s a fictionalised story of Miyamoto Musashi, a renowned Japanese swordsman, who spent his life working towards perfection and consciousness.
- Luxury in one word
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