‘African luxury market has benefitted immensely from the rise of e-commerce’
Born in Lagos and raised in California, USA, Abisola Kola-Daisi is the founder and CEO of FH Luxury. An astute entrepreneur, she earned her first degree in Finance from California State University, Northridge in Los Angeles. Her work experience has spanned the banking, oil and gas, and shipping industries before deciding to follow her passion for fashion and founded FH Luxury 2012, one of Nigeria’s leading luxury retailer brands. In this interview with TOBI AWODIPE, Abisola, who is positioning her outfit to be Africa’s foremost luxury brand, spoke on Nigeria’s emerging luxury market and how young people are driving the trend.
How would you describe luxury?
I WILL define it as an experience that focuses on the legacy, heritage and excellent quality of a brand that is conveyed through its unique craftsmanship.
There is a misconception about luxury only being associated with fashion, but it is very much a concept that crosses over a range of industries such as art, beauty and lifestyle.
At Florence H Luxury, we want people to understand that although luxury is an aspirational concept, it can be attainable.
It is not a concept that is solely associated with Western culture, it exists within Africa, and in order to accurately communicate this, we need to reorient people’s mindsets and redefine perception of luxury in Africa
As an emerging market, what are some of the challenges luxury brands face in Africa and what can be done to overcome them?
Although it is an emerging industry, there’s been so much growth.
Besides the cognitive dissonance people seem to have with the concept of African luxury, there are other hindrances in the industry like sourcing quality materials, infrastructural weaknesses and shortage of skilled and professional workers.
Nevertheless, there is a lot of potential in the market and the challenges present exciting opportunities for us to make a real impact.
We are creating awareness for African luxury brands and telling our story in a way that is starting to resonate with our growing customer base.
For example, we host a quarterly to bi-annual event called The Luxury Lifestyle Market, where we curate international and African luxury brands.
We have seen tremendous growth in the number of vendors and consumers who are interested in the African luxury industry.
We are also very committed to transferring knowledge through capacity building, mentorship and training programs.
I think that we can take it a step further by partnering with corporate sponsors who offer luxury services to help tell our story.
How are you dealing with the usual negative stereotypes about Africa?
Africa unfortunately is still viewed as an underdeveloped continent and we can help counteract this negative narrative with awareness.
By doing so, we have the opportunity to showcase African luxury as competitive with its international counterparts and we hope this will translate into more patronage from foreign customers.
The inflow of foreign capital would be a good thing for African businesses.
There is an emerging younger demographic that are interested in purchasing luxury brands and goods. How are you catering to them?
The younger demographic is very aware of what makes a good or service ‘luxury’. I recently read a report that forecasted millennial spending power superseding older generations.
This is great for us, as it pushes us to make sure we are providing the best service possible. We curate and supply luxury products and strive to provide an unforgettable experience for our customers.
Millennial consumers are gifted with a heightened sense of awareness about what they want to spend their money on.
At a conference I attended recently, panellists discussed the millennial desire for brands that reflect their identity.
Millennials aren’t just interested in the end product, but the lifestyle and ethos that the brand represents. For example, millennials in Europe are becoming more aware and involved in sustainability issues.
Therefore, for some, sustainability choices are influencing their purchasing behaviours.
I think more than ever, the luxury consumer is looking for an excellent and unique experience. They don’t want the same shopping experience they’ve seen before; they want one-of-a-kind products, emerging brands to identify with and the ultimate shopping experience.
Has the African luxury market benefitted from the rise in e-commerce?
The African luxury market has benefited immensely from the rise of e-commerce.
For starters, the rise of social media has given customers direct access to some of their favourite brands.
We have been at the forefront of e-commerce since 2015 with a fully operational website where all items are displayed and ready for purchase; luxury brands have to evolve with the times.
The growing power of the digital space is undeniable and luxury brands must think about their digital presence as most consumers own a smartphone and do their research online even before they visit physical spaces.
Social media has changed how consumers shop, and designers are creating a strong online presence because of this.
Technology has allowed easy access to luxury goods by creating apps such as Shopify, where consumers purchase items with a click.
Designers also recognise the power that influencers hold and are utilising this as a marketing tool to attract new clients. Social media is global, and luxury African brands can also adopt these methods to spread awareness.
Do you think there is a danger of luxury brands becoming ‘too digital’?
We recognise the importance of catering to our clientele through digital platforms to drive them to our traditional outlets.
Nothing compares to the unique experience from walking into a boutique, trying on the clothes and being surrounded by beautiful pieces.
Our digital platforms use exciting content such as “styling diaries” and the “Florence H Luxury editorial” to give exciting ideas that engage the customer with styling tips and inspirations.
We do not see a danger in becoming ‘too digital,’ but rather view this as a unique opportunity to reach a wider audience.
There has been tremendous growth in the fashion industry in recent years, why do you think the luxury market In Nigeria has been slower?
It’s been slower due to infrastructure challenges such as electricity, security, manpower, and sourcing materials.
Despite these challenges, African luxury brands have been innovative and creative in overcoming them.
In addition to this, there is a misconception about the attainability of luxury goods in Africa. However, brands such as ours have been instrumental to redefining this narrative.
How have you crafted a business model that ensures that brands you stock sell?
In the last six years, we have studied our clientele and cater to the brands that suit their lifestyle and preferences.
This component of our business model ensures that we’re abreast of client’s needs and ensure we are curating the best brands.