Culture / Events

Luxury 4.0: The Luxury Network’s Irene Ho speaks of Collaboration, Not Competition

In this exclusive one-on-one, we speak with Irene Ho, CEO of The Luxury Network Singapore, who says the road to success lies in brand partnership.

Jul 12, 2019 | By Kelvin Ong

If there’s one thing to be said about Irene Ho, CEO of The Luxury Network Singapore, it is that she is fiercely passionate about the Singapore luxury scene.

The Luxuo team had the privilege to sit down with Ho recently, to ask her for her honest thoughts on the current state of the luxury industry, and why she thinks collaboration, and not competition, is the way forward in the e-commerce age.

Luxury 4.0: Collaboration, Not Competition

You have been an influential person on the Singapore luxury scene. Why do you think Singapore remains a lucrative market for international luxury brands?

It is crucial for luxury brands that want to expand to Asia, especially Southeast Asian countries, to first establish their presence in Singapore. Singapore is one of the top three, if not the easiest place to do business. That’s because we have some of the most business-friendly regulations, and many financial and tax incentives aimed at new businesses.

Furthermore, Singapore has one of the largest populations of high net worth individuals, as compared to cities like New York, Paris, Zurich, Sao Paulo, Beijing, Seoul, and Taipei.

Singapore is also a small enough market that brands can use as a test bed to assess product acceptance rates, before they begin expanding to other countries across Southeast Asia.

You mentioned regional expansion. What are some things brands should take note of before venturing outside of Singapore?

In general, I believe it is important for brands wanting to enter a new market to first obtain extensive market research on their targeted customer segment, and to keep abreast of the latest media and social trends of that market.

Having an extensive local network and good local knowledge of the markets you are entering are also vital. For example, even before coming to Singapore, it would be useful for companies to accumulate a good contact database, and to leverage networking platforms.

This is where The Luxury Network (TLN) can assist. At TLN, we facilitate unique partnerships between luxury brands and high-end service providers who share a common goal of accessing each other’s pre-qualified high net worth clients.

Why is partnership so important today?

Partnership between brands and cross-marketing is a vital commercial and brand strategy. There are many benefits. Luxury brands can leverage on each other’s strengths, while at the same time provide a complementary but non-competing experience for their customers.

It is important to partner through TLN because we act as the middle person to ensure that the partnership is win-win. As we are the ones who approach other partners on your behalf, this also ensures that all partners on board are on equal footing.

Changing course, how do you view the digital threat that luxury brands are facing on the e-commerce front?

Online luxury sales will account for 19% of all sales by 2025, reaching about €74 billion (S$113 billion). The shift in luxury consumption habits of Millennials and Generation Z will pose quite a challenge to all luxury retailers, as they are digital natives. But in my opinion, digitalisation also offers a great deal of opportunities for luxury brands to create seamless, consistent, and unique purchasing experiences.

What, then, will be the future of traditional retail?

In view of future retail and physical experience, luxury brands definitely have to be adaptive and fast to change. This is how TLN comes into play – we help our luxury members better allocate their resources, and achieve high ROI by staying relevant.

You also head up the Diplomatic Council in Singapore. Can you share with us more about the organisation?

The Diplomatic Council is a unique organisation with consultative status to the United Nations, that combines a global think tank, a world-leading business network, and a charitable foundation.

It is a network that is also relevant to luxury companies, which was why we organised the inaugural “Luxury meets Diplomacy” event last year. We were able to get luxury brand representatives to meet with ambassadors from different countries.

The embassies could potentially be a brand’s customers, and on the flipside, the brands could potentially be partners or sponsors of the embassies’ events.

So it’s a win-win for all.

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