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Is the luxury market finally switching on?

Anxieties about digital in the luxury sector are starting to lift as brands innovate online.

Burberry has always been seen as the front runner in the luxury sector digital domain, pushing boundaries with marketing campaigns, in-store initiatives and catwalk innovations. The rest of the luxury market, generally speaking, has been slow to embrace digital, often holding on to the misconception that high-priced product will never be bought online.

Once brands began to see the success of sites such as Net-A-Porter it became apparent that customers would in fact be happy to shop digitally. But the market still seemed reluctant to embrace ecommerce, with many citing that
it would damage their brand’s reputation. However, the past six months has brought about a change in thinking and a number of luxury houses have started to experiment with online technologies.

Amanda Squires, head of retail and luxury at customer experience company Seren, says of this transition: “Luxury is all about product and service, these brands see digital as a vehicle and they are being innovative in how they see its use in the modern retail economy.”

One example of this is Giorgio Armani teaming up with social video platform VideofyMe for its new campaign Frames of Life. This encourages users to upload videos of themselves using the VideofyMe app and overlay them with the Giorgio Armani in-app filter, which recreates the atmosphere and aesthetic of Armani’s campaign. They can then share them on their social media accounts using the tag #Framesforyou. Armani is uploading the films to a dedicated Tumblr page and the three best videos each week will be showcased on Framesoflife.com. Since it launched on August 1, 15,830 videos have been uploaded using the Armani filter.

In August, Mulberry relaunched its site to include responsive design so that it looks slick and functions on different devices. It has also introduced one-page checkout. When thinking about the digital experience, Mulberry wanted to ensure that product knowledge, attention to detail and first-class service replicated its in-store offer.

This month has seen Gucci join Google’s Business Photos project (a new feature using Google’s Street View technology) to launch an indoor view of the Gucci store on Google Maps, allowing users to take a virtual tour
of the store.

Burberry is still at the cutting edge and has reinvigorated its famous online Art of the Trench campaign (which to date has generated 20.2 million page views) by partnering with Paris shopping destination Printemps. Art of the Trench Paris imagery is featured across screens at the Burberry pop-up store in Printemps as well as in a dedicated window and on digital platforms. Printemps customers also have the opportunity to be photographed for Art of the Trench Paris with their own images featured across the store.

While the luxury sector does seem to be moving forward digitally, there are still some brands such as Chanel and Hermès that appear adamant that they will not be launching an ecommerce offering (except in the case of cosmetics)any time soon. This might help them retain an air of exclusivity, but in the long term it could have a hugely detrimental impact on the business. Shopping habits have changed, shoppers’ expectations have changed and brands that fail to recognise this will be caught out.

Inside Burberry

● YouTube channel - 22.9 million visitors globally
Facebook - 15.8 million fans
Google+ - 2.6 million followers
Twitter - 2.1 million followers
Instagram - 897,000 followers
Pinterest - 54,000 followers
Vine - 28,000 followers

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