Is LVMH’s 24 Sèvres’ launch the start of a new era?

Why it might be the industry’s Moment of Truth

Following its declarations from 3 months ago, LVMH is poised to launch its own multi-brand e-commerce site at the beginning of June, offering all of its brands under a single umbrella, available for shipping to 75 countries. The website will be branded after its department store Le Bon Marché: named “24 Sevres” after the Rue de Sevres location of the department store, the platform will offer fashion, cosmetics and luggage products from LVMH’s own portfolio as well as brands from outside the group (it is also the name of Le Bon Marché’s customer-loyalty program, which is being extended to encompass online sales). Under wraps for 18 months, the project previously codenamed Babylon is now ready for the real world.

“The idea is to be attractive with unique products, not necessarily have a huge offering,”  Ian Rogers to Reuters, May 2017.

The size of the investment amounted to several million euros, moreover, while this is not the first attempt from the french luxury group at commercialising luxury products in the digital world (Remember eLuxury?!). Please don’t forget about Sephora either), this represents its most ambitious attempt to capitalise on fast-growing online sales of luxury goods (estimated to expand to 12 per cent by 2020, according to Boston Consulting Group estimates last year).

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24 sevres packaging layout. Credit: LVMH.

24 Sevres is meant to provide shoppers with “very Parisian choices” and represents a great opportunity for the high-fashion power player to position itself as a competitor to Net-a-Porter, with its most ambitious e-commerce project since hiring Ian Rogers in 2015. The approach, which consists in offering a diverse range of labels under the same roof, mirrors the strategy of LVMH’s bricks-and-mortar distribution channels such as DFS Group and Sephora. Without a doubt, this strategic choice is driven by the will to cater to the modern consumers’ needs and behaviours, especially those of millennials.

In a whole, it turns out the LVMH group has thought about everything: in addition to adopting an omni canal strategy (there will be an iOS application for the release), 24 Sevres will be inaugurated with a first 77-piece capsule collection, made of womenswear pieces of sought after brands such as Chloé, Givenchy and Loewe. Last but not least, customers will benefit of advices from a personal shopper in the form of video, FaceTime like consultations, via web or smartphone.

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Le Bon Marché, located at 24 rue de Sèvres, in Paris Rive Gauche.

This new bet echoes another recent announcement: the launch of its experience driven wine & spirits platform Clos19. Conceived by Stephanie Watine Arnault, the niece of LVMH chairman and chief executive Bernard Arnault, the company  is based in London, where it operates like a start-up with a staff of 10 — with the support of the LVMH group.

Clos19 will provide LVMH with the means to sell luxury wine and spirits from its brands portfolio (brands like Moët & Chandon, Krug, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon, Château d’Yquem, Hennessy, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg and Belvedere), alongside editorial content and services like 24-hour delivery.

« The whole concept behind Clos19 is around sharing and championing the art of hosting. It gives more immediate and sophisticated access not only to our exceptional products, but also provides the services, accessories and experiences that enable our audience to become the perfect hosts. There is an experience for every type of budget from the tastings to the exceptional ones which are much more aspirational. » Watine Arnault to BoF, April 2017.

The platform will also sell experiences, from tastings, to intimate dinner parties hosted at private places, to what LVMH calls “exceptional experiences” like luxury travel experiences to Antarctica — each augmented with Moët Hennessy’s wine and spirits.

« We have the expertise, we know how to execute, how to set the scene and how to make the moment really special. We are creating trips to our cellars, for instance but we are selling more than just a tour. What we are selling is the whole experience around it: from the trip to the right hotel booking to the right restaurants in the Champagne region. Its the full package. Experiences will start at £180 (about $230). » Watine Arnault to BoF, April 2017.

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24 Sèvres website screenshot.

A new era might be starting, with more big luxury conglomerates like LVMH dipping a toe in the experience economy, as luxury consumers are shifting their spending away from traditional products towards experiences. We entered the final stage of luxury brands’ digitalisation, going further than social medias and starting with creating e-commerce platforms that sells experiences as well as traditional products. Critically, Sevres 24 opens the possibilities for a new conception of luxury, with luxury brands associating their product offering with singular and innovative experiences. These lifestyle oriented platforms to come, that is the determining element through which consumers identify themselves with a brand, might be a clear answer to one growing and worrying threat for the luxury world: Amazon.

“We believe the business of Amazon does not fit with LVMH full stop and it does not fit with our brands.  There is no way we can do business with them for the time being.» LVMH chief financial officer Jean-Jacques Guiony.

While awaiting for its launch, you might want to check the future platform’s Instagram account  (@24Sèvres) to have a sneak peek of what’s to come.

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