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Digital meets storytelling at Arab Luxury World 2015

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Day two of Arab Luxury World 2015 was jumpstarted by talks covering topics from “Digital Strategy” to “The Art of Storytelling”.

Kick-starting the conversation on digital strategy, David Vercruysse, general manager at Sephora Middle East, explains that the two biggest purchase triggers are the consumer’s ability to touch the products and word of mouth. Today, social media and digital sharing are the new word of mouth. Ellen van Meerendonk, client development manager at Yahoo, illustrates this point when she jokes, “If you don’t post it on social media, it didn’t happen.”

The “Digital Strategy” panel touches on the importance of engaging your consumer on social media, which needs to be treated delicately for luxury brands. However, one direction that this discussion takes is related to the Internet of Things. Bringing the digital world into the brick-and-mortar store experience is the new challenge, especially for luxury brands. The talk even includes a makeup demonstration by a Sephora representative, showcasing how the brand is fusing digital with an in-store experience, using a skin-tone matching device.

Shifting gears to a panel on “The Art of Storytelling”, the conference continues to draw an eager audience. Rachel Arthur, senior editor at WGSN, kicks off from a realistic perspective and begins by explaining that the story is everything and when a brand thinks about creating a story, it should ask: “Why should people care?” And to answer this question, Arthur continues to advise brands to tell their consumers: “This is who I am as a brand and this is how it’s reflected in you.”

Not all brands have the privilege and advantage of a long, rich history. For these labels, assures painter Marc Ferrero, all hope is not lost. Ferrero explains that if your brand lacks a long history or rich origins, an alternative way to go is to create a fictional story representing the spirit of your brand, complete with characters that share the same values. “Be fun,” he advises.

On the same note, Arthur illustrates a current storytelling trend: “Over the last few years, we have seen humor placed more centrally in storytelling from brands that you might not necessarily expect.” She cites Hermès and Kate Spade’s recent endeavors as examples.

Similarly, CEO of W Motors, Ralph Debbas, explains that sometimes a brand has to surprise its audience by creating a buzz, even if with a ludicrous idea. The example he uses is W Motors’ initiative to put diamonds in the headlights of a car, which, he admits, served no functional purpose, but people were talking about it.

Arthur closes with a simple but effective note on the importance of brands finding their voice. She says it can begin with a brand asking itself: “Do we say hey, hi or hello?”

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