Luxury brands go digital

Posted in Uncategorized by Abhinaya Chandrasekhar on October 4, 2009

One flagship store at Madison avenue.

One ad in Vogue featuring a supermodel sporting the latest collection.

Another ad in GQ. The rest will be done by the gliterrati.

This was the scene with Luxury brands  till 2004. Luxury brands once believed that minimal advertising is the key to maintaining their truly luxury status. They were sought after and did not do much to reach out to people. An ad in Vogue or GQ served the purpose. Publicity did the trick. The past few years has witnessed a huge change in their style of communicating with the audience.

Luxury brands go digital!

Its true. They are everywhere now. Trying to employ the available cutting edge technology to reach out to more people. Ralph Lauren began the trend by selling online. This yielded good results. Now, we can see other high-end jewellery, electronics, automobile brands go online!

Ralph Lauren introduced their first iPhone application last year. One kick-ass idea! It showcases the collection, features video highlights of the latest runway shows and also gives a peek into the upcoming collection. They have recently released another application – “Make your own rugby” where users are allowed to personalize the rugby/polo shirts and also virtually try them on. Estee Lauder released a similar application where users can upload their pictures and virtually try out the products.

Why become digi-savvy?

For a long long time, the luxury brands did well with their business model of maintaining the uniqueness  by allowing for users to come to them. They were rich and had to be approached. But with increasing consumer  interaction online, they have realised the importance of going digital. Increase in communities online and burst of social media hit them hard. This is the age where companies are fighting for the consumer’s attention. Competition coupled with recession has forced the luxury marketers to look for other options from the traditional business model.

Pros & Cons

The advantage with going digital is that it helps in easier data-mining and targeting. We know where the potential target audience of these brands hang out. Also, a lot of the fashionistas are becoming increasingly tech-savvy. It always helps to be on the lookout.

But, it can also lead to losing the luxury status if rubbed the wrong way.
I think this is an extremely crucial period for these brands. The transition from the traditional business model to something dynamic is a big step. This has to be done very intelligently. Going digital and participating in social media while maintaining the luxury stamp is not easy. We might see a lot of niche brands lose their sheen and up-market status by taking wrong steps.

In fact, a lot of brands are generally not digi-savvy. They are finding it tough to blend in. They do not consider moving online as a natural extension. I think if they have not yet made efforts to move online, they are far behind in the curve. It will be fun to see how many luxury brands optimize the tech world.