This Skater Bro Turned Apple Music Mogul Has Big Plans For LVMH – Fast Company
In some ways, Rogers isn’t the most obvious person to reimagine LVMH for the modern shopper. While the 45 year old spends his workdays in the plush, beautifully furnished Paris offices of the world’s largest luxury conglomerate–which counts Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Givenchy among its 70 brands–he often thinks back to humbler times. He spent his teenage years in Goshen, Indiana, crisscrossing the concrete on his skateboard, wearing baggy Carhartt and Dickie’s clothes purchased from Walmart. “We were literally dressed like janitors,” Rogers recalls.
But what Rogers lacks in haute couture experience, he makes up with a proven talent for helping industries transition from the analog world to a digital one. For 21 years, he worked in the music industry, helping to shape how people accessed artists and bands online. Along those same lines, he’s now tasked with translating the in-store luxury shopping experience for the internet.
For months Rogers has been working on a top-secret project, known only by the code name Babylon. Today, LVMH is revealing the fruits of his labor with the launch of 24 Sèvres, an online version of the high-end 180-year-old Parisian department store Le Bon Marché. This new e-commerce operation will be LVMH’s opportunity to experiment with new approaches to selling luxury to the digital shopper. Le Bon Marché is owned by LVMH, so this will be the only place that some brands within the portfolio, such as Dior and Vuitton, will be sold by a multi-brand online store. But 24 Sèvres will also include many brands that are not owned by LVMH. While Rogers has been helping strategize how this site will unfold, he’s been working closely with Eric Goguey, the site’s CEO, who runs its day-to-day operations.
LVMH’s CEO, Bernard Arnault, brought Rogers on because there is a feeling at the company that the $1.2 trillion luxury fashion industry is on the verge of major disruption. At present, 98% of luxury purchases happen in brick-and-mortar stores, and 40% of luxury brands don’t sell their products online at all. But consumer behavior appears to be shifting. Between 2003 and 2016, online luxury sales grew 20-fold. And the pace of change is quickening: In 2016 alone, the online luxury goods market grew by 13%, far outpacing the rest of the luxury goods market, which only grew by 4%. “Retail is about to change fundamentally, in much the same way that music changed,” Rogers says.
He would know. For 21 years, he helped make it easier for music fans to access their favorite artists, transitioning from CDs to MP3s to streaming services. Each twist changed the way consumers discovered music and how much they were willing to pay for it. He ran the Beastie Boys website right out of computer science grad school, then moved onto Yahoo Music, then Beats Music, which was acquired by Apple for $3 billion. Before joining LVMH, he was a senior director at Apple Music. “The way that that music is discovered and consumed is 100% different than it was 20 years ago,” Rogers says. “Retail is going to go through exactly the same thing.”
Luxury Love Is A Tricky Thing
It’s clear that a segment of luxury shoppers–particularly younger ones–want to buy products online. But luxury brands have struggled to figure out exactly how to translate the brick-and-mortar luxury experience online. At stores, shoppers receive personalized attention from well-trained staff and they can touch products to examine how well-crafted they are. The same level of intimacy, personalization, and service is not easy to replicate in an e-commerce experience.
Case in point: In 2009, LVMH launched a website called e-Luxury that was a spectacular failure. Customers found the site boring and the service subpar, and international shoppers were annoyed by the fact that the company wouldn’t ship outside the U.S. Other luxury e-commerce sites, like Net-a-Porter and FarFetch, quickly stepped in to fill the gap, taking an editorial approach to presenting brands and collections. Every week on Net-A-Porter, for instance, clothes and accessories are presented in an online magazine called The Edit with written commentary about how to style each item, alongside celebrity interviews and lifestyle content like information about detox retreats.