If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard from me, I’ve just got back from a ten-week trip around the globe. And if I’m honest, I would probably describe it as an ‘extended vacation’ as I’ve spent more time on the beach than on my Mac.
However, one of the projects I have been working on is to help put together the digital marketing strategy for a luxury retailer. What they were looking for was an insight into what everyone else is doing in 2012 to generate sales online and my thoughts on whether they should adopt the same approach themselves.
My observations might be useful for other brands, so I’ll share a selection with you:
1. Brand Collaborations are everywhere
Collaborations with guest designers, presented as Limited Editions are selling well and giving a youthful edge to older brands. You’ve probably seen the “Designer x (loves) Brand messages everywhere. Examples of this include:
Yoshida x Maison Kitsune
Andre Saraiva (Mr. A) for Globe-Trotter
and even Disneyland x Colette!
2. Retail goes editorial
If you look at who has been really successful in 2012, consider the approach adopted by some of the independent retailers. You’ll see Colette from Paris and 10CorseComo from Milan starting to blur the lines between fashion magazine and fashion store. They’re now becoming known as style leader- inspiring their visitors with music, books and other media. Not just about clothing and accessories…
I mustn’t forget Coggles in York as a great example of what an independent high street retailer can achieve online.
3. Advertorial partnerships with fashion publications are changing.
With the magazines trying to find their new home now fashion bloggers are encroaching on their traditional territory, they have started to change the way promotions are organized. This year, I’ve seen some very effective competitions in some of the old establishment magazines, supporting an online retailer with strong editorial copy too. I predict we’ll see much more of this next year as an effective use of publishers to drive new customers to younger e-retailers.
4. Online malls are selling luxury too.
Websites such as farfetch.com and Moda Operandi are now responsible for a major percentage of sales for a luxury brand. I can only see this growing further as consumers enjoy being able to see many collections in one place.
5. Sale stock is moving elsewhere.
Rather than look like you’re permanently on sale, discounted stock can be sold separately and discretely to your best customers. I really like John Smedley’s execution of the private sale through their Outlet site.
6. Bloggers continue to grow in influence.
Last year, bloggers to make a difference to site traffic for even some of the most established luxury brands. This year, I’ve seen bloggers actually driving sales. This is especially relevant when the limited edition brand collaborations are launched, such as the recent Star Wars collection for Comme des Garcons:
7. Luxury brands customers are getting older.
This is one of the challenges that is keeping me busy.
8. New luxury consumers are less loyal to premium brands.
This is keeping me busy too! It can’t simply be down to more choice but perhaps a change in shopping behavior. Luxury brands have to work harder to win their customers back for a second visit. This makes me think about that classic photo of Joan Collins with her luggage. Sadly that level of brand loyalty is increasingly in the past, especially in the digital world.
9. Mobile customers are growing
It’s an obvious point really; more customers are shopping from their smartphones. However, what is perhaps not so obvious is that when a luxury brand launches a mobile friendly site, it doesn’t have a huge impact on sales. Even some of the most complex sites to navigate on a mobile phone are not detracting customers from shopping.
Lanvin’s mobile site is a good example of what can be achieved.
10. Tune in to Net a Porter
Finally, this isn’t news for 2012, but simply a reminder. Net a Porter is owned by the mighty Richemont. It now has over half a million active customers and they have over two thousand staff . If something is going to make a difference in the digital retail space, there is a good chance that Net a Porter have tried it already.
11. Customer Service is more closely watched.
Finally, if you’re shopping on eBay, a regular trader with a good approval rating is more likely to receive your business than a eBay user, isn’t he? I predict with varying levels of customer service from luxury retailers, the same will start to become more important for growing their digital business too. Independent reviews of customer service by organisations such as StellaService and the proud display of their seal on a site will begin to increase conversion levels.
Some brands should be very afraid!