The success of this, and all brand partnerships, is dependent on a synergistic approach to luxury whether that be sleek and understated or bold and brash. We expect to see more cross-industry partnerships emerge as brands wrestle for the attention and trust of the new luxury consumer.
The luxury space was once firmly separated into its different camps: Watches and perfume on one side, luxury safaris through Nairobi on the other. Those silos are breaking down, as we often cover at Skift, and luxury brands are reaching outside their sector in search of brands with a similar ideology and affluent customer base.
Being seen in the same room, or more likely same Instagram post, can simultaneously give a legacy brand a boost in its cool factor or add legitimacy for a new player.
An interesting partnership we recently came across is that between Audi’s relatively new loyalty program Audi Preferred Benefits and premium luggage company Arlo Skye. Both are just one year old, and their collaboration lends something to each.
“We wanted to expand our relationship with our owners beyond just their vehicles, so we developed a program that rewards loyalty and engages with them and their interests,” explains Nancy Chesley, director of relationship marketing at Audi of America.
“Our owners have lots of choices in the luxury market and we feel programs like Audi Preferred Benefits help to engrain our brand into their everyday lifestyle.”
Exclusive access for luxury car owners is not a new idea. Test drives have long been a part of automakers’ loyalty engagement strategies.
Audi’s goal was to work with brands it defines as “Now and Next” or “disruptive” and then add an Audi twist to create a tighter bond and foster most consistent communication with customers.
“We want our owners to feel as if they’re finding the next great brand, taking part in an exclusive experience, or having access to a service that benefits their lives,” says Chesley.
Partners including Shinola, Standard Hotels and Arlo Skye were selected based on Audi’s brand principles around optimism, progress and purpose.
Arlo Skye is a new luggage brand designed specifically for creative, design professionals. Created by a former LVMH manager and TUMI designer, Arlo Skye’s lightweight, aluminum cases are still gaining a following and the founders were happy when Audi reached out.
Not only was it an opportunity to reach a new customer base, but Audi employs the same understated approach to luxury.
“Before you do partnerships, you need a core business that’s super desirable to your core customer base – in our case it’s the creative class in the art or design world with an affinity for products with good aesthetics,” explains Arlo Skye co-founder Mayur Bhatnagar.
“After that partnerships are good for a couple of reasons: It allows you to tap into the closed community of the brand and bring that new community into your ecosystem. It also creates excitement with the press when you’re doing new projects that are maybe a little peripheral but nonetheless interesting. These projects can be temporal, limited edition— Supreme has done this really well.”
Arlo Skye designed a new version of the Carry-On exclusively for Audi, which is sold only on the www.audiusa.com owners site. The Carry-On comes in a low-gloss black finish and is edge-painted and top-stitched in Audi’s signature red pantone.
Noticeably missing is an Audi logo.
“We love that there is no logo and no discount,” says Mayur who found describes a true premium product as one that doesn’t deal in discounts; his training at traditional luxury conglomerate LVMH shining through.
As for Arlo Skye, they’re betting on the partnership model in their target luxury design industry for continued growth. It recently released a limited edition collection for the holidays with design magazine Sight Unseen.
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Photo credit: A limited edition carry-on designed exclusively for Audi by Arlo Skye. Arlo Skye