Much the way a photographer controls light using the aperture on a camera, this blog will serve as a filter which, through a combination of images, opinions and shared content, will reveal our focal point.
This is what happened this week in the luxury and tech industries:
Apple has most brand value: Millward Brown
Millward Brown released its 8th annual Global Brand Value list, with Apple leading the pack at No. 1 Other luxury brands such as BMW, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci and Prada made it into the top 100, with the latter two making their first appearance. The list serves as a metric for how much brands are valued in a year based on consumer reaction to brands, financial data analysis, market valuations, analyst reports and risk profiles. Some brands increased in value this year; Prada’s brand value went up 63 percent and Gucci increased 43 percent. However, although Louis Vuitton was the most-valued luxury fashion brand, its value decreased 12 percent, according to Luxury Daily.
Yahoo to buy Tumblr for $1.1B
The board of Yahoo, the faded Web pioneer, agreed on Sunday to buy the popular blogging service Tumblr for about $1.1 billion in cash, the companies announced Monday, a signal of how the company plans to reposition itself as the technology industry makes a headlong rush into social media, according to the New York Times.
Neiman Marcus reworks China strategy
Neiman Marcus Group is rethinking its China strategy. The company plans to downsize its team there and ship from its U.S. based inventories rather than holding inventory in Chinese warehouses, according to Women’s Wear Daily.
The New York Times reinvents the boring banner ad
Like all of publishing, the Times is feeling the pinch of the display advertising market, where pricing has been squeezed by automated buying and clickthrough rates have fallen to a fraction of a percent, giving rise to a swell in theoretically more engaging branded content. But in the Times’ case, it’s trying to breathe new life into the banner ad rather than abandon it, according to Ad Week.
Saks stock spikes on Goldman rumor
Shares of Saks Inc. jumped 18.1 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday on speculation that it had hired a banker to explore strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the company. The retailer’s shares already had climbed 11.3 percent to close at $13.67 Tuesday after Saks said it is speeding up the launch of its outlet e-commerce site. They rose to $16.18 in after-market trading on the banker rumors, per Women’s Wear Daily.
Twitter adds cards to help brands register emails
Twitter just took another step towards helping brands generate revenues from the social network. The company announced a new feature on Wednesday called the Lead Generation card, which gives businesses a way to register users and their emails for promotions or memberships directly within a tweet. When you click to expand the tweet, you’ll see an option to sign up with your Twitter handle and connected email already filled out, according to Mashable.
It’s not exactly a secret that mainstream brands have a little more flexibility when it comes to marketing on any platform, not just digitally. However, since online and mobile media are a little newer, it is taking luxury brands a little time to catch on. According to an expert from Pod1, luxury brands are well on their way to getting it, but they could still use some help.
That said, the biggest problem for luxury brands on digital is trying to create an experience that is similar to print or in-store, without diluting brand presence by marketing to a mass audience. Because of this fear, most brands make sure that their websites are very beautiful, but forget about the whole “functional” aspect that should be the centerpiece of a digital strategy. And, now that almost all brands are on mobile, luxury brands now have to ensure a seamless experience on all channels, including those that are portable.
In this installment of Three Questions, Fadi Shuman, the CEO and cofounder of Pod1, discusses what challenges luxury brands face and the biggest mistakes they are making.
What advantages do mainstream brands have that high-end brands do not when it comes to digital marketing?
Lower cost mainstream brands allow the majority of the buying public to be spontaneous.
This spontaneity is served well online through paid search, banners, one-day sales and so on. It has been proven again and again that these tactics are effective. Luxury brands are not able to benefit from these trigger-happy customers as their price point doesn’t allow it.
What are some of the biggest mistakes they are making?
Luxury brands continue to be strong at social media but a huge Facebook following doesn’t mean a strong turnout at your ecommerce store.
There is a serious lack of investment in CRM and looking after their existing customers online. Today, for the most part, purchasing an item from a luxury brand online versus a mainstream brand is the same experience. They usually follow up emails about shipping, etc. but really, that’s it. Surely your $1000 plus purchase deserves a little more love?
All in all, do you think luxury brands “get” digital marketing yet?
Yes, absolutely, but there’s still a way to go for them to be as immersed in it as some of the other verticals.
The challenge luxury brands have is that mainstream digital marketing isn’t as effective as it is with non-luxury brands.
The primary reason for this is that luxury inherently implies a big-ticket item and therefore for the most part, a considered purchase, which means customers may not ultimately make the purchase decision within the same lifecycle as expected and may take their purchase offline.
The inability to measure this adds to the lack of confidence in digital marketing.
You may have seen these beauties all over the New York Times homepage over the past few weeks, but they are some of the most mesmerizing videos Tiffany & Co. has put out to date. The products, from Tiffany’s new collection inspired by “The Great Gatsby” and actual Tiffany archive pieces, star in these videos. What’s notable is that each entire video focuses on what it’s supposed to be focusing on: the products.
Tiffany has made a name for itself by not only marketing its products, but the idea of true love itself. It especially uses its videos to portray couples in love and interviews with real-life men and women (who, “coincidentally,” happen to be brand advocates and wearers of Tiffany’s rings). This approach is different because instead of hard-selling products, Tiffany tends to sell emotion with discrete product placement. Some may argue that emotive marketing is Tiffany’s forte, and I tend to agree; many marketers have tried to go Tiffany’s route, but I actually believe that if any brand could “own” the emotion of love, it would be Tiffany.
However, these particular products are not engagement rings. They may not even be products that are supposed to be gifted, but bought to be enjoyed by the buyer. They are fun, edgy pieces whose personalities are shown through the kaleidoscopic videos and supplemented with captivating music. I think it’s clear that the only thing I’m supposed to be in love with is that blue sapphire ring.
New York is physically celebrating the digital world through Internet Week, an annual event designed to dissect a city “where technology, business and culture meet.” This year’s theme explores how technology has revolutionized all businesses, from food and fashion to healthcare and education.
The festival comprises more than 250 events and is expected to attract approximately 45,000 Internet professionals. The events take over the entire city, but attendees are expected to reconvene at the event’s central hub at the Metropolitan Pavilion for celebrity keynotes, panel discussions, workshops and tutorials.
I know, this is far from the only digital-themed event in New York. But what makes this event interesting is that it is not just lecture series or networking – Internet Week effectively combines the work-and-play atmospheres together to give attendees hands-on experience on the content matter. Since the events range from food to fashion to start-ups, everyone can learn something new.
Check out the website for a full list of events and to sign up.
Barneys New York creative director Simon Doonan paid tribute to Broadway using Nexxus Salon Hair Care products in a window display at the Duane Reade drugstore across from the Radio City Music Hall in New York.
The hair care brand is an official partner of Broadway’s Tony Awards. Mr. Doonan, known for his eccentric and creative personality, said that “this project has been a blast because I get to do what I love – design creative over-the-top window designs – and celebrate my passion for Broadway, but with a new twist.”
The display depicts a glamorous woman on-stage presenting a Tony Award. Her hair is made of hair care bottles while her dress is made of Tony Awards posters, which encourage passers-by to tune in Jun 9 for the awards.
Prior to Mr. Doonan’s design unveil, Nexxus generated excitement and conversation through trivia questions about the installation including location, type of venue and identity of the celebrity partner through its Facebook page. It also collected a $25,000 donation to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.
Nexxus will continue its marketing on its Facebook page through behind-the-scenes photos and video, sketches from Simon and tips from Nexxus creative director Kevin Mancuso.
The design will be on display through June 16 at Duane Reade.
Luxury hotel brands have been investing in various technology aspects for their properties, hanging on to the thought that consumers are evolving and need digital interaction to improve their stay. Interesting and modern technology can be a great addition to luxury hotel brands, but only if the technology works with the experience, and is not just tech for tech’s sake.
High-end hotels are using technology most notably in the form of mobile apps which can be used before, during or after a stay. For example, Fontainebleau’s app helps you find towels when you’re at the pool, and many hotels from the St. Regis to SLS to the Ritz-Carlton have apps where you can order room service, call the front desk and check out places to go nearby.
However, with so many companies pushing hotel brands onto mobile, it could be confusing if brands do not have a clear strategy. Unfortunately, that confusion shows.
“Utilizing emerging technologies to remove the restraints of time and space from consideration allows the brand to be ever present, delivering that level of high touch service and expertise on demand whenever, wherever and however its guests require it,” said Scott Forshay, senior strategist of mobile and emerging technologies at Mutual Mobile. “Brands must be cognizant of the primary principle of mobility engagement; the goal is not to replace the experience, but to be additive to the experience.”
A first step that many brands are taking is the use of in-room iPads. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a luxury hotel without some kind of in-room mobile device. But, that’s the problem: it’s already been done. And, to be honest, most travelers probably already have their iPads with them. So, to not put too fine a point on it: who cares anymore?
Another common use of technology are QR codes on napkins, menus, in-room, etc., to get consumers to download an app or bring them to the property or brand’s Facebook page. Brands are also using blogs and other forms of digital media pre-stay to either encourage consumers to come to their hotels or to give guests an idea of what they can do. These all encourage consumers to talk to members of the hotel staff or at least find something out on their own that they could not have found out otherwise. However, there are other ways to target “moving target” customers, i.e. those who are not actively looking for a hotel.
“Certainly extending heightened degrees of concierge level service to the room via tablet applications, for example the ability to schedule spa services, order room service, book theatre tickets, or schedule restaurant reservations are additive to the experience with the brand. However, these strategies are primarily focused on an audience of stationary targets,” Mr. Forshay said. ““How does the brand leverage mobility when the audience is a moving target?”
The first rule of technology is, obviously, convenience. If the user interface is not easy to navigate, if the app keeps shutting down or if the experience adds exactly no value, then brands are doing it wrong.
Take Mandarin Oriental, for example. It released both a mobile app and developed a mobile-optimized site because it did its homework and understood what its guests wanted and where they wanted it.
“It’s all about what your customers are using,” said Taylor Rains, account coordinator at Rawle Murdy Associates.
The Mandarin Oriental site is used primarily as a transactional tool while the app is used for engagement. The brand figured out that most of its bookings come from consumers trying to find a place to stay while they are in their limos on their way from the airport.
Since affluent consumers probably do not have time, or the desire, to download an app, a mobile site is key if Mandarin strives for mobile transactions. Simply having this marketing tool heightens the Mandarin Oriental Experience.
Also, Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ Preferred Guest Program released an app that updates itself based on whether the user is planning, en route or already checked-in to a specific hotel. The “My Stay” interface allows fully-integrated booking, member information, hotel searches, travel details FaceTime customer service and social media.
Consumers can choose to interact with the hotel staff for their needs, or they can request or learn through the app – whatever is more convenient for the consumer. The app is techy enough to show that the brand is up on modern technology, but does not sway from the core customer service tactics, as concierges and other hotel personnel are still always on-call.
“If executed properly, engagement strategies specifically through tablet applications have shown early signs of strengthening the connection between brand and guest. Mobilizing traditional luxury hotel differentiated functions like concierge services heightens the connection by extending services beyond the concierge desk,” Mr. Forshay said.
“The essence of any coveted brand is the story and lifestyle it conveys. The luxury hotel experience conveys is highly consultative and intensely service-oriented, with the brand not only serving as the experts concerning all things on location, but experts on destinations, events and entertainment that are in-line with the expectations of its affluent guest audience,” he said.
The name of the game is convenience. Affluent consumers expect brands to be one step ahead of them, and to have everything they desire when they ask for it. Furthermore, if brands are using technology as a way to further interaction with consumers, brands had better know how to use that technology, and use it well.
“My one piece of advice would be to listen to the consumer. Adoption of something new shouldn’t take place simply because it’s new,” Mr. Rains said.
“It should be a natural response to a consumer need and desire. If brands find that their customers are increasingly demanding deeper connection, then by all means they should give it a try,” he said.