Key highlights from Arab Luxury World

Another successful edition of Arab Luxury World, the region’s largest conference on the business of luxury, took place this week. OMD was present throughout the event with speakers participating in numerous panels and seminars. Here, we bring you all the insights and driving themes from this year’s edition.

“Art never repeats the past; it is eternal”
“Art never repeats the past; repetition is something you will never see in art.” These were the words of Jean-Claude Biver, President of the Watches Division at LVMH, in his opening keynote speech. Luxury was very keen on repeating in the past and the repetition relatively easy to achieve; eventually you repeat it better and in another form, but it’s a repetition. To create is the opposite of repetition. No creation, no future; no innovation, no future! That has been my guiding theory for the past 40 years. I need to understand and respect the past and tradition, otherwise how can I create the future? “We must master Spanish Guitar before we play Carlos Santana. If you don’t understand the past, you cannot create the future. And who can know the future without making mistakes? So managers have to learn to forgive mistakes. Those who don’t make mistakes will just sleep. It’s a learning process in order to create success. This type of culture can only come from the boss.”

Dubai is the top destination for luxury spending
Graziela Martins, VP – Merchant Business for AMEX, presented the spending trends in the Middle East, revealing that the emirate has taken the lead spot for luxury spending, ahead of Paris, London, Milan and New York. Furthermore, 77% of her study’s respondents claimed to prefer shopping for luxury goods in stores over online. “Consumers are maturing in their spending habits. What they’re spending on is more focused now.” Also, though consumers will continue to spend, they are now being more cautious and we need to prepare for changing market conditions.”

Digital for information; stores for purchases
Digital is making us a lot more accustomed to knowing more about the products we’re buying. Furthermore, social media is the second most influential drive to the store, so it’s not only about sharing information. However, you still need the human touch when it comes to luxury, as people are looking for more and more personal touches and emotional experiences, audiences heard. “The stores are still the main channel; online will increase, forming 25% of sales in 2025 while stores will still comprise 75%,” says Cyrille Fabre, partner at Bain & Co. When it comes to Millennials, they are influencing a lot more than just their age group, says Fabre. According to LVMH’s Jean-Claude Biver, the 21st century hasn’t even started yet and we still have another 13 years to prepare ourselves for it. “It will start in 2030 because those who are born in this century will start to shape it then. Therefore, have an advisory board where the average age is 14 years old in order to know what’s coming in the future,” he advised.

End of Influencers?
Nadim Khouri, OMD’s Head of Content and Experiences, took part in a panel discussion on whether influencers are still relevant for luxury brands. “As an agency, we do our part to ensure the influencer we select is a genuine pick; we want the content produced to be genuinely theirs. If a post is upfront about being paid, then we can take that content further and do so much more with it.”

Storytelling in a Digital World
Luxury brands are extremely good at storytelling; they can capture the whole brand essence in one video. So why do so many fail in their online storytelling? That was the opening question by Maya Bou Ajram, OMD’s Business Unit Director for the LVMH Group, during her session on digital storytelling. “The current mindset of repurposing a TVC is not enough to perservere on digital. Everyone is the same stories across all touchpoints, which doesn’t effectively engage people,” added Dara Maher, OMD’s Senior Director – Digital for PepsiCo. “The challenge is how we can continue the story over time and engage people at different points of their journey. We need to tell constructive, continuous stories.”


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