How Luxury Brands Tell Their Stories Through Digital Technology
The Do & Don’ts of Marketing Your Luxury or Prestige Brand Through Interactive Media
Guest Post By Amalia Agathou
Fashion and technology always look in the same direction: Forward. Knowing this, what happens when two of the most fast paced industries race side by side to the future?
While fashion seemed to be going at a slower pace than technology a few years ago, now fashion is catching up and is actually making waves. The landscape of fashion 2.0 is only starting to take form, but it looks like brands are finally understanding the need for a presence on the Internet. Furthermore, from what I gathered at the recent Luxury Interactive conference by WBR in London, it seems like brands are also eager to unleash their creative forces online.
So in a world in which reviews by friends are weighed equally, if not more, to a nod of approval by Anna Wintour, what are the Dos and Don’ts of fashion online?
DO go for cohesive! Shenan Reed from Morpheus Media, the agency responsible for the Marc Jacobs/Foursquare partnership, talked at Luxury Interactive about Transmedia – storytelling across multiple forms of media (TV, PC, mobile, etc.). The stories in each medium are unique and independent elements that work together like different pieces of the same puzzle, thus broadening your impact and enticing the viewer/user to get into your world. Aim to make your online store, Facebook page, magazine campaign and physical store a cohesive, compelling shopping experience.
DON’T panic! There are so many ways to connect with people that sometimes it can be overwhelming. Connecting is easy, but connecting with the right audience can be tricky. You don’t need to be everywhere, just be where your clients are.
Take time to figure out where conversations happen before you join them so you can see how your clients “move” online. Each brand should choose the platforms they see best fit their clients and their values. For instance, Patrón Tequila chose to build its own social network to enhance the sense of exclusivity, while Fabergé has built a fancy custom made site with IBM to simulate a real world guided shopping experience. Many fashion brands, however, choose to keep their focus on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget that the focus is still the same no matter what platform you use: The people, not the tools you use.
DO mingle! Brands are in doubt as to who to trust in the tech world. Big brands trust big brands because that’s what they know and are used to. On the other hand, maybe working with a way more flexible start up can inspire better creative vision and innovation, and you can accomplish more that way. Matchmake and talk to people who are different than you.
DO Know your people! Discover and nurture the ambassadors who are fans of your brand, and work hand in hand with bloggers, YouTubers and other creators on the web. Ronit Weinberg, Vice President of Ecommerce and Online Advertising at Diane von Furstenberg, referred to the DVF experiment, the Tavi phenomenon and crowdsourcing as examples of how brands and online fans can work together. Collaboration can also provide valuable insight. The NikeiD app is one such example, and in this app, you can create your own shoe and give the company valuable info about the colors and designs that come first in preference among their customers. Build relationships by building products.
DON’T ignore mobile! Mobile is hot, and the announcement of iPhone4 and iAds just made it hotter. Don’t create an app just for the sake of having an app, though. Get creative, and combine the emotion of storytelling with the interactivity of the web. Mobile is key to mixing the off and online brand experiences, which Ronit Weinberg refers to as the non-line world.
DO iPad shopping apps. iPad is intuitive to use and is easy to use even to people who never went online before. For someone who finds the Internet intimidating, it is way more easy to trust branded apps than web addresses. On top of that, iPad loves images, making it ideal for the world of fashion. Welcome the iPadorians!
DON’T be a control freak! Luxury brands fear that being too accessible may cheapen them. On the other hand, they find it difficult to hold back themselves when they see their business grow online. “Narrative is no longer owned by the brands, for every pompous video you upload on YouTube, 10 parodies will be up in 2-3 days,” said Ian Jindal, Editor in Chief at Internet Retailing. Maybe you should face your business the same way as do your closet: Stick to your personal style, but be playful. Embrace your network!
DO show your love! Don’t save the VIP treatment for Lady Gaga alone. Offer your customers an extraordinary shopping experience on and off line. “Think relational not transactional! The transaction is the result of everything else not the aim,” pointed out Fabrice Paget, Chief Marketing Officer of Fabergé. Brand values, service values and the right personnel are keys to a successful CRM, but don’t rely on “gurus”. “In great companies the system is the star not the individual,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute.
DON’T make your brand a museum As Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute, wisely observed: “If you don’t cultivate the younger generation, you will turn your brand into a museum”.
DO look East! The Chinese and Japanese are top customers. Because the economies of Europe and America are still shaky, brands are setting their eyes (and investments) on the East. The challenge lies in understanding Asia and their uses of technology in order to unlock a powerful market. Steven Davisby GSI Commerce mentioned that for a leading Japanese fashion site, 35% of sales are via mobile phone.
Do let go! In the words of Carmen Busquets, founder Couture Labs, founding investor of Net-A-Porter: “In order to scale you need to let go as a founder.” Don’t fall too deep in love with your idea, take in criticism and adapt to change when necessary.
You can also read the recap of London Luxury Interactive conference in an article I wrote for The Next Web. If you are interested, the Luxury Interactive Conference will take place in New York on June 28 to 29 ,and you can always follow Luxury Interactive on Twitter.