Hermès is living in a digital world and it is a digital brand—at least, it wants to be. In an effort to connect with younger, more digitally-inclined consumers, the label most known for its million-dollar bags is livening up its image, both online and offline. But will its investments be enough to alleviate the intimidation most younger consumers have associated with the brand for almost 200 years?
For most of its life, Hermès has banked on exclusivity, even going so far as deliberately making its website tough to navigate in order to build up desirability. Now, the brand is retailoring its site, store, and product selection to appeal to those who may have found it unapproachable in the past.
In addition to a brand new store in one of New York City’s hippest areas, the Meatpacking District, Hermès is doubling down on millennial-friendly details like device-charging stations and an Instagram-appropriate bar full of free beverages (similar to Tiffany & Co.’s take on the social media cafe) so shoppers can refuel both digitally and physically. Aside from a subtle air of equestrian in its items, Hermès hasn’t acted on the athleisure trend. But as part of its new appeal, the brand is bringing fanny packs, skateboard bags, an Apple watch iteration, and even roller skates to its shelves. Staff will swap suits for sweaters and windows have been added to the store to make it less stuffy than its uptown version.
Though these features are all firsts for the label, Hermès has been ramping up its online reputation for some time now. For example, the brand made efforts to improve mobile functionality for its site and began investing in shopping ads to fight the threat of resale sites, according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Fashion Global.
Still, while other luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton have aggressively singled out trend-thirsty shoppers with logo-laden attire and collaborations with pop stars, Hermès falls behind, hitting average in Gartner L2’s digital rankings with significantly less social media presence than its competitors. Additionally, several of its new items still carry hefty price tags. But going from lavish to livable won’t happen overnight. Slowly but steadily freshening up its online and offline presence seems a more genuine way for Hermès to win over younger consumers.