Luxury is known to be all about a 360 degrees experience where the senses are deeply involved; emotions are crucial in the decision to purchase a luxury good and luxury businesses excel at creating strong sensory experiences that may evoke strong emotions and stick in people’s minds for a lifetime. 

But regrettably, the rise of robotization and artificial intelligence may jeopardize a portion of businesses’ reliance on emotions. Clearly,  we have already entered the 4.0 disruptive wave of innovation which comes from marrying advanced production and operations techniques with digital technologies to  drive intelligent actions in the physical world; where people and machine work together to archive a transformation and complexity unlike anything humankind has experienced before, with technology as the mean to create the most extraordinary value possible. 

Digital technology continues to move forward, forcing all industries to adapt in order to survive, hence how can you expect that the luxury one would have not kept up with such a disruptive innovation? Predictions show that in the future most of business-to-customer interaction will be managed using AI, which will be essential to yield great potential for crafting the experience and understanding of the customers better than ever before. 

To begin with a great example of it, Dior has already launched a new experience via Facebook Messenger called Dior Insider. Similar to other brands’ strategies, consumers interested in learning the latest Dior news or who have questions regarding a product can interact with an interactive chatbot software. The users are asked what they are looking for, giving a choice of skincare and makeup, and the Dior insider suggests not only the most suitable products, but it also incorporates emojis and GIFs to create a fun and playful experience for consumers, showing them videoclips and promoting the brand’s beauty and primary Instagram accounts to help consumers keep the most up to date.

Yet, this is not the only way luxury brands are implementing their image through technology; thus, we can affirm that AI models indeed are a thing nowadays. You may already be familiar with @lilmiquela, a model, musician, and influencer who is Brazilian-American and has an astonishing 3 million Instagram followers. She hangs out with genuine musicians and artists in real restaurants and hotspots and wears actual clothing from premium brands like Chanel and streetwear companies like Supreme. She made her runway debut at Milan Fashion Week in 2018, showcasing the Prada line in a series of 3D-animated gifs. She has since worked with Givenchy and appeared with Bella Hadid in a Calvin Klein campaign. 

She is definitely not the only one, and all these models have individual traits, histories, and humor. They also have beliefs and causes, which is a source of debate because these ideas do not genuinely belong to them but rather are a reflection of their originators. About that, conflicting opinions have been raised about whether the existence of AI models might be something positive or negative. Clearly, luxury brands are using them for marketing purposes, where these models might be considered as brands’ puppets, enriching the storytelling, innovating the image of the brand and giving the possibility to offer a wider range of models especially on e-commerce sites, helping the brand to represent all sorts of sizes, skin tones and ages, so that consumers would be able to see one product on a variety of models, developing in this way a personal shopping experience.

Yet, moral issues have been arising from it as well, about whether real models and influencers should worry that these AI models might replace them completely in the long run; moreover, for some critics of AI-generated models, there are also risks of appropriation when white people create Black models:  for instance, when Shudu, one of the first black AI models,  came out, some expressed their criticism, noting that she was an idealized Black woman created by a white man. Indeed, brands will also have to be very careful of how far they can push their AI models so as not to arouse too much criticism, for example exploiting queerness to get more viewers . 

To conclude, AI is making its way in the virtual world of luxury always more and more, though it is still a novelty for many people; that is why we can say that the future of it is still full of surprises, and it will be fascinating to see how luxury brands will make use of AI to enrich the experience of luxury itself, letting only time tell whether it will be a success or a total flop.

Giulia Borzatta


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