Ever the elegant and graceful social media star and fashion blogger we have grown to admire, Sarah Langa Mackay has recently made some power moves to ensure the growth her life has seen also permeates her brand. Part of the growth we’re referring to has been witnessing the Wits student’s nuptials to the love of her life, the re-launch of her refreshed website named “Influenced by Sarah Langa” on www.sarahlanga.com and now, the birth of her baby, Luvant.
From working with brands such as Rimmel London, Woolworths, LaMer, Hugo Boss and Cartier to mention but a few to her luxurious and enviable travels, it’s no surprise that the leggy blogger has decided to turn her passion into a viable business. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sarah Langa to hear all about her new luxury online boutique, Luvant.
Part of starting any business entails identifying a problem and designing solutions that will address them accordingly, while generating revenue. What gaps did you identify that led to the birth of Luvant?
Finding a gap in the market was the easiest part of getting Luvant started. First we identified the characteristics of our marketplace: We noticed that South African’s are drawn to clothing brands that are fashionable, on trend, status driven and rich in quality. Like most emerging markets individuals within these societies tend to carry their class in the form of material possessions to display their position in society. These possessions vary from cars, timepieces, shoes and even clothing. This is why the ability to access certain brands in these markets is so important. As much as this might serve as an advantage for some well known luxury brands, most brands don’t find it worthwhile to emerge in these markets due to logistical risks and the fact that the market is not big enough for them to put in the proper infrastructure for retail. Rarely individuals within the higher LSM bracket prefer to travel to different shopping destinations and catch the shopping bug that comes with that kind of travelling. While most times there is a large percentage of middle class individuals that can afford these brands and mostly tend to shop locally due to the fact that they can’t afford the casual vacation paired with the accessibility to these brands so their needs are never met. However the demand is still there and that is the gap Luvant is supposed to fill, providing quality luxury goods from well known international brands such as Hermes, Kenzo, Miu Miu, Jimmy Choo, etc… at market related prices or even below the market prices, from previous seasons, new and pre-owned.
The second gap we identified was the link that the mid LSM consumer has with the higher LSM consumer. Most individuals within the higher LSM bracket that can afford the annual shopping trips and have access to all international brands at any price tend to fall into the traditional trap of buying products they do not need and want. On the other hand the mid LSM consumer is more money conscious, makes more informative decisions and doesn’t mind saving money by consuming quality luxury pre owned products at very good prices. These two factors give rise to the supply of quality pre-owned luxury goods in the market place and the demand of the accessibility of luxury brands at reasonable prices. This is the service that LUVANT serves to its consumers in the market.
What is the inspiration behind the name Luvant?
LUVANT originates from the words “LUxury AVANT-garde”, we chose these two words because they compliment each other very well, they have a semiotic relationship and they represent what LUVANT stands for. “LUXURY” is all about elegance, comfort, desire, royalty, quality and inspiration which is what drives our society and individuals. “AVANT-GARDE” represents people and ideas that are ahead of their time and cutting-edge, this is also so appropriate and reflective of our target market. We are speaking to people that are reaching for things beyond their boarders, hard working individuals, that are informed, elite and want to be different. Luxury Avant-garde refers to the brand we are building and all the plans we have lined up in the future for the brand. We are taking luxury and innovating within luxury, we are introducing luxury to new people in a way that is unique to them and making luxury available and affordable to people that were never able to access luxury in this way.
Who would you say is your core target audience?
We are targeting the elite working class market and the emerging class. Anyone within the ages of 25 to 65 that resides in developing countries such as South Africa and individuals that understand and appreciate luxury, fashion, status and quality.
What does it take to build a luxury brand?
Research, customer service, quality control, promoting and packaging is so important when working with luxury. Of course consumers will find every reason to NOT shop from us and it is our job as a luxury brand to give them reasons why they HAVE TO SHOP at Luvant. This is why we focus on providing a service that is worth every cent that our customer puts in. From the packaging, brand positioning, innovations, customer experience and the overall marketing; every single aspect is well thought out.
Research is important, so that you know your products and so that you are aware of how your competitors differentiate themselves from your brand. This gives you the ability to improve your product or service while anchoring your unique competitive advantage in the marketplace. Research will also assist in training yourself and your staff in your company to allow the customer to experience a more product specific, specialised, ensuring quality service and for your staff to be able to communicate and educate the consumers according to the consumers needs in the best interest of the company.
Where do you see Luvant in the next 5 years?
LUVANT in the next 5 years should be expanding into bigger markets, hopefully the whole of Africa and other developing countries outside of Africa. With the presence of actual physical retail stores and not only e-commerce stores, we should be able to focus on providing a premium service that is relevant to different consumers, we are hoping to achieve this by introducing a consumer centred, customised service and a product selection that is unique to the different markets, cultures and societies across all developing countries unlike the traditional, westernised, universally segmented service that is associated with most brands.
After all, the “intimidating store assistant” technique may sell products in other countries, but here in Africa we want to spend our money not only on quality products but also on a welcoming experience that is warm, friendly and unique. Service that is TAILOR MADE!
If there’s one person I trust to sell me luxury, it’s Sarah Langa. Check out Sarah’s new online boutique, Luvant on www.luvant.co.za @luvant_sa on Instagram.