As luxury brands embrace the intimidating yet imperative digital world, we check which 5 are doing it the best
By: Veronique Poles, Fashion & Luxury Consultant
Posted on: April 17, 2015
The digital culture took years to be part of the luxury world. But now, there are luxury brands that are teaching the world how digital can be employed to bring consumers closer. And in the process, luxury brands are becoming ‘fun’, as they come out from their stiff ambience and interact in a more meaningful way with a wide audience!
The digital is playing a growing role in the journey of luxury brands, while brands have tamed the digital space, embracing it as a vast field where technical innovations and inventiveness go hand to hand. The challenge was to synergise between the luxury and digital worlds, finding the right combination of digital levers to reach various categories of audiences whose behaviors are increasingly complex, to appeal to them, and at the same time, to fulfill their need of personalisation.
In the last few years, most of the luxury brands have dedicated time, efforts and budget on social media, where they continue to increase their presence. And it’s not just limited to one solitary profile. Different accounts cater to different audiences and geographies. Social media has become a tool to deliver exclusive content, develop a privileged dialogue with internet users, offer brand experiences and new services… Digital makes everything possible today!
In particular, Instagram has become an important platform for fashion brands. Some brands have revamped their website design. The ascendancy of smartphones and tablets has been transforming our life, our vision of the world, our relationship with others. Paying attention to the importance of mobile, many luxury brands have started offering a mobile site.
Incredibly, half of total sales are influenced by a consumer’s digital interaction. Some brands have successfully invested in both offline and online channels, while some are still working their way through it.
How have and how much have luxury brands invested in digital, what were their choices? We have studied 5 luxury brands, which made digital a priority, putting more investment in exploring the potential of digital, and reaching a strong digital positioning through an impeccable strategy and creative solutions.
The brand is universally acknowledged, and applauded, for being the largest digital power among luxury brands. Its strategic positioning, pioneering vision, and full digital ecosystem, confirms its innovative and inspiring image. Burberry, step by step, has mastered its digital strategy.
In 2010, Burberry became a pioneer in the fashion industry by live-streaming its London Fashion Week show live on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, allowing internet users to follow the brand from closer angles. Going a step further, in 2011, Burberry made it possible to order clothes directly from the show, allowing customers to get the order delivered four months earlier than usual. Many brands since then have been following this ‘click to buy’ strategy.
Burberry, sensing the power of social media, boosted its number of Facebook fans in December 2011 by proposing a free sample of its new perfume ‘Burberry Body’, and hence celebrated12millions fans in January 2012! It was in 2011 also that Burberry became the first one to open a Google+ account.
With its ultimate goal to focus on the customer experience, Burberry created the ‘Art of the Trench’ project, a digital platform focused on UGC (User General Content), where internet users all around the world clicked themselves wearing the iconic Burberry trench, and posted them on the special Art of the Trench site.
Burberry, like some other brands, has made the choice to advertise on large publishers’ websites, promoting their own website which combines e-commerce and an immersive atmosphere, creating a real community. Burberry has also setup a 24X7 after-sales service through a Twitter account, where customers are encouraged to ask any question!
Burberry has never been short of inspiration or ideas. Its offline strategies also combine with digital innovations to give it that edge. Burberry stores offer consumers a unique shopping experience with new technologies. In its flagship Regent Street store, interactive screens help customers get information on products by scanning the label on top. Understanding that personalization is essential in the luxury business, Burberry’s sales staff has customer records on their iPad, allowing them to deliver personalized recommendations.
Screens, Ipad, the internet relay the message that Burberry is everywhere.
Hermès has always been very protective of its brand image and very selective in its distribution. Nevertheless, the brand has definitely found its niche in the digital, becoming one of the most prolific digital marketers among luxury brands.
The prestigious French luxury house was quite audacious and an innovator when starting its presence on internet with an e–commerce site in 2002, for the US market, and in 2005 for the French market, before even launching its institutional site in 2008 (www.hermes.com).
The brand made the choice of using social media, digital videos and mobile applications to communicate with its consumers. Its unique app, Tie Break, was among the top apps released in 2014! The new mobile app was an interactive way to browse Hermes’ tie collection, providing a respite from work or commutes. To optimize the experience, Tie Break included arcade games, GIFs, cartoons and animated tie designs, a beneficial tie tying tutorial and a gallery of autumn/winter 2014 tie patterns.
The brand has showed imaginative and creative ways to display its products, bringing continuous surprises to their customers. All through 2014, Hermès offered a delicious and joyful digital culture, delighting its fans through various social videos, which employed humorous and light-hearted strategy to promote its novelties. From its iconic oranges boxes (personifying them to show us ‘what they do when the sun goes down’), to its range of bags (fairytale story of Prince and the frog as an inspiration to turn frogs into handbags), to its collection of scarves (comic book heroes Superman as an inspiration), the social videos were quite playful and funny, touching emotions with interactive content. The brand also extended its prints campaigns into the digital space to maintain brand cohesion.
A transitioning year for Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquière succeeded Marc Jacobs as the new creative director for Louis Vuitton in 2014. Throughout the year, Louis Vuitton kept consistent visibility across various channels, keeping a strong presence through print campaigns placed in key fashion publications… and being quite active online.
Louis Vuitton is among the top brands in online interactions through Facebook, Youtube subscribers and YouTube channel video views. The brand, becoming very active in the digital space, has explored the potential of making internet users travel through beautiful videos, transporting them each time to new mythical places.
The brand speaks about its DNA, focusing on its iconic travel objects, combining beauty and utility, taking up with the legendary ‘Spirit of Travel’ philosophy of Louis Vuitton. After the safari in the African savanna, for its spring/summer 2015 collection, Louis Vuitton heads to another exotic destination - Saint Barth – sprinkling it with ingredients of luxury, beauty, pleasure, dream, quality.
Gucci has been working on a multi-channel strategy for quite a while now. Understanding the increasing influence of mobile, Gucci has developed an appealing mobile site. The brand also has an e-commerce site, which allows in-store availability search to products pages.
Gucci advertises in prominent magazines and websites, and involves all its social media networks, running extended social campaigns. As an example, on March 2, 2015, Gucci started a worldwide digital media roll-out with a week dedicated to The Lady Web bag.
The brand’s strategy included the launch of Gucci’s digital short film, celebrating the Lady Web Bag, which was shared on all digital outlets of Gucci such as Facebook, Instagram, as well as Youtube, while a shorter version and excerpts were appearing on banner ad units on various fashion publications’ sites. Gucci’s new campaign video features Swedish pop singer-songwriter Lykke Li, sitting down at the piano to play and compose a song, chronicling her creative journey, featuring moments that inspire her to write in her notebook.
We are back in the 1970s as Lykke Li croons her popular song ‘Just like a Dream’, while in a very bohemian ambiance, she is carrying the Gucci Lady Web handbag with her in all of the different scenes. The video emphasizes on the brand’s roots and signature looks such as the green and red luggage strap handle, the snakeskin details and the embroidered coats…
Michael Kors’ digital efforts are pretty much out in the open, encouraging its fans (and they are in humungous numbers!) to communicate with the brand easily. Its most recent initiative, however, surpassed all that has been done by other brands till now. In February 2015, Michael Kors added Snapchat to its digital repertoire, and worked with the media-sharing application platform to cover their fashion show in New York in a more immediate way, providing fans with real-time, authentic content from the brand.
"We’re always looking to tell our brand story on platforms our fans are using and loving. Snapchat provided a unique opportunity to take our 'All Access Kors' strategy a step further – allowing us to share intimate, behind-the-scenes moments from our runway show with fans around the world," commented Lisa Pomerantz, senior vice-president of marketing at Michael Kors.
As part of the application’s ‘Our Stories’ feature, the New York Fashion week content was easily accessible to Snapchat users around the world for 24 hours, starting the morning of February 18, 2015. That day, Michael Kors provided exclusive snaps from the designer, the models, the backstage team, industry influencers and notable guests.
The ‘Our Stories ‘ feature allowed fans who were attending the event to contribute snaps to the larger public, creating a real-time stream for fans around the world. Previous ‘our stories’ include the Grammy Awards, the Golden Globes, New Years’s Eve around the world, Valentine’s day, Coachella, the Consumer Electronic show, and the Super Bowl.
The brand has also invested in mobile. Launched in 2014, one of Kors’ top remarked apps was ‘360’, which gave users an elaborate glimpse into the brand’s Jet Set Shanghai event. Concentrated on ‘services’, Michael Kors is also one of the few brands offering in-store returns for online purchases.
Staying ahead of the curve means embracing digital technology. It is an exciting and challenging period for marketers in the luxury sector as they find a conjunction between the world of technology and the world of fashion…
Veronique Poles is a freelance fashion and luxury consultant based inMumbai, with more than 15 years of extensive experience with luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Givenchy and Waterman/Gillete Pen Company just to mention a few. Bespoke creations, however, are her first love.