Digitalisation remains a key factor influencing both innovation and sales across all personal accessories companies, with consumers in Australia quick to take up new technologies having become increasingly dependent on digital technology in their everyday lives. Digitalisation can have both a positive and negative affect on sales in personal accessories, with writing instruments and watches experiencing more of a negative impact whilst digital technology is influencing new product innovations in bags and luggage and jewellery.
Within bags and luggage, manufacturers are increasingly innovating with digital technology. This has become particularly apparent in luggage, where manufacturers have launched “smart luggage” featuring smart technology, RFID scanners and built-in chargers for laptops and phones. Furthermore, consumers can now purchase luggage featuring GPS tracking, allowing them to track their luggage at all times for greater peace of mind. For example, the Bluesmart carry-on luggage available in Australia can be synced with an app to allow consumers to track their luggage and remotely open or lock the luggage. Additionally, the luggage features a built-in scale advising consumers how much the luggage weighs to prevent excess baggage.
The emergence of smartwatches has caused watch companies to rethink their strategies and consider ways to offset any sales lost to their digital alternative, with numerous watch companies announcing the launch of their own smartwatch. This is blurring the lines between consumer electronics and the traditional watch industry. For example, Tag Heuer launched the Tag Heuer Connected whilst Brietling launched the Exospace B55 with digital functions. Hermès, instead of launching a smartwatch, partnered with Apple to design exclusive straps to accompany the Apple Watch. Similarly, in jewellery, Swarovski International (Australia) partnered with fitness tracker company Misfit to launch an activity tracker, the Swarovski Activity Crystal, allowing consumers to track their activities, calories, steps and sleep patterns, amongst other features.
Manufacturers are increasingly expected to focus on digital technology, with consumers becoming more reliant on technology and being drawn to products with advanced features. This trend is expected to positively impact sales, particularly in bags and luggage and jewellery, as new and advanced innovations carry a higher unit price and consumers are willing to pay premiums for these products. Furthermore, digital marketing will play a key role in personal accessories companies’ strategies in building brand awareness and sales. For example, social media channels such as Instagram have become highly influential in purchasing decisions, with consumers placing a high regard on brands with the most “followers” or “likes”.
Personal accessories companies will consider collaborations with consumer electronics companies as they look to incorporate technology into their products and take a more fashionable approach to products such as smartwatches and fitness trackers. This has become apparent within watches with Tag Heuer’s partnership with Google and Intel to launch a smartwatch as well as Swarovski’s partnership with fitness tracker company Misfit on an activity tracker. In fact, at the end of 2015, watchmaker Fossil acquired Misfit for US$260 million with the company planning to incorporate Misfit’s technology into products resembling traditional watches. The forecast period is expected to see a blurring of lines between consumer electronics and personal accessories as personal accessories companies increasingly innovate in this area.