Why apps are the future of luxury

You’ve heard it a thousand times: “apps are the future!”, “go mobile or go home”, “mobile first”. It’s true, and yet, a lot of brands are still ignoring it. Mobile usage is extending (both in time and in ways of usage), and luxury brands (among others) have started looking at mobile marketing as a new touchpoint with their customers.

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Mobile apps vs web apps

A mobile version of a website is not an app. It doesn’t serve the same purpose on the brand’s side (at least, it shouldn’t) and it doesn’t answer the same needs on the customer’s side.

Web apps” are accessible through a navigator. The customer types keywords on Google, let’s say, finds your web app, and checks it. It’s a punctual need (details about a product, quick online purchase, etc.). While they’re easy to access (no need to download the app), they don’t create any sense of loyalty and usually don’t attract returning visitors.

On the other hand, “mobile apps” are specifically designed to be an app, and usually have a different purpose than the website. They can serve m-commerce purposes but usually go beyond that. They tend to create loyalty thanks to new contents, and they enable brands to use push notifications. Also, the small icon on the phone’s homepage is a good reminder to return to the app.

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Mobile apps have their own purpose

Apps are not websites, so they shouldn’t merely be a mobile-optimized copy of those. Let’s look at some successful examples.

Hermès launched its Silk Knots app, as I mentioned in a previous article, to teach customers about different ways to knot scarves. Customers draw extra value out of the app: they learn something that is not limited to the brand since they can use the knotting techniques on any square scarf. The app simply improves the way they feel about the brand.

Dior launched the app Dior Mag. Dior Mag is actually something that exists on the brand’s website. The app delivers stories about the brand, interviews, news about the shows, etc. Dior invites customers to discover the story of the brand and to get to know the brand better. This is key to a stronger connection with the brand and to returning visitors.

Finally, Louis Vuitton tried to solve this awkward moment when a customer flips through a magazine, looks at the latest Louis Vuitton ad and wonders which bag is shown, what it’s made of, etc. On some ads, an icon reads “LV Pass” and the LV Pass app enables customers to scan the ad to get information about the products, making-ofs of the ad, etc. This app is an example of how a brand can extend the customer experience at home, starting with an ad that would be in magazines anyway.

Takeaways: what an app should do

  • Have a purpose of its own: it should have its own message
  • Be user-friendly
  • Embrace the brand’s DNA: an app should be an extension of the brand and its values
  • Link to other channels (website, social media, messaging apps, etc.)
  • Reinvent the brand: an app is an opportunity to post new contents regularly, explore new possibilities of experience, make the brand memorable. Luxury is associated with exclusivity and quality; customers can be provided with a little bit of luxury anywhere and anytime they want thanks to apps. Whether what it offers is unique, useful, fun, etc., differentiation will make a brand stand out.

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Cheers, and enjoy the weekend,

Constance

Takeaway lessons from Longchamp’s partnership with InStyle

Branded content is tricky. You want to build a stronger, closer connection with your customers while delivering content that is valuable to them. You want to stay away from simple advertising disguised as actual content but you also want your brand to be remembered and the content to fit your brand’s DNA.

Longchamp recently partnered with US magazine InStyle to feature a story on their website. With a video realized by InStyle Studio and an article written by the magazine’s staff, clearly mentioning the partnership with the brand, this operation shows efforts of transparency … This reinforces the impact of the sponsored content. Here are a few things Longchamp nailed with this article, released online on February 17th, 2015.

1. FIND THE RIGHT PARTNER

Knowing your audience is key to delivering the right, most catchy content to them. Longchamp is very successful in North America, hence it partnering with one of the most read American women’s magazine. InStyle’s website is dynamic and attracting lots of fashion-focused visitors. Longchamp can only benefit from such exposure on InStyle.com.

2. TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Longchamp didn’t just seize an opportunity for native advertising. The brand waited for a time when InStyle.com gets even more daily visits than usual: the New York Fashion Week (February 12 – February 19, 2015). This is a time when the website lives at its fullest, with articles posted everyday about fashion shows, street-styles, front rows, etc. Traffic is stronger than normally, which increases the likelihood of visitors reading the article about the brand, and thereby improve brand awareness. That is, if the article isn’t drowned by Fashion Week articles. Which is why it was smart to release the article at the end of the week, a little bit after the rush.

Video still from Longchamp x InStyle Studio

Video still from Longchamp x InStyle Studio

3. KEEP IT SIMPLE

Longchamp’s collaboration with InStyle embraces simplicity. There is one video, showing accessories worn in the streets of New York, throughout the character’s day. The emphasis is put on the items, which reminds us of Longchamp’s 2011 web-series “Heels” (in partnership with online magazine AuFeminin.com).

The article itself is simple as well: it’s short and clearly states that Longchamp purses are what you need to face your busy New Yorker life with style. This straightforwardness is just what the reader needs to be set in a positive mindset about what comes next.

4. EMBRACE CTAs

The article gives more space to the items than to words. Pictures speak for themselves and visitors are shown the accessories from the video to support the following point: Longchamp accessories are practical and stylish, therefore adapted to your lifestyle. Each item picture is followed by the item’s information (name and price) and a call-to-action button to shop directly on the company’s e-commerce site.

There you have it: 4 simple elements that helped Longchamp succeed with branded content.

Will you be my Valentine, or how brands helped lovers this year

Valentine’s day – this one day of the year drawing very mixed feelings: a lot of blaming for being a marketers’ trick to get to your wallet, a little beet of guilt as you still haven’t found a gift for your loved one, and happiness because it somehow appeals to your slightly romantic and cheesy side… No matter your point of view, you may have noticed this year that brands were trying hard to get to you! And so should they. Valentine’s Day is a perfect occasion for luxury brands to get closer to their consumers and advise them on gifts among their product lines. Still, just giving advice is not enough, especially for a romantic holiday. Brands must inspire consumers, make them feel that love is in the air and that brands love their customers. Therefore they were helping them with genuine advice extending beyond gifts. There you find a perfect occasion for branded content. Think articles on how to prep for Valentine’s Day, ideas about how to dress up, etc. Some brands did this, others merely promoted their products, but overall they tried to inspire positive feelings about themselves.

Let’s start with the obvious medium: social media. I don’t know if you follow brands as I do, but my Facebook newsfeed was invaded by brands’ posts about perfumes being great for a Valentine’s day gift,  makeup that would look great on you for your date night, outfits ideas for your candlelit dinner, and even little items you could get for your single self. Luxury brands took a chance to promote their more accessible (think cosmetics) products, as well as premium jewelry and watches, handbags, and all sorts of gift ideas that were just a click away from you. Efforts started as early as in January, and were reinforced the week before Valentine’s Day for the numerous late buyers. Dior for example, leveraged its new Miss Dior campaign to increase its sales. Let’s not forget about Instagram. Quite a paradise for marketers as it enables brands to promote visual contents (which are extremely powerful to bring out an emotion). Customers’ newsfeeds were filled with romantically-filtered photos of gifts, flowers, scenes of romantic gestures… Captions often included a direct link to a product’s e-commerce page, or information about a limited edition, online exclusives, special bundles in nice little boxes, etc. Other social media were used as well, including Pinterest, but Facebook and Instagram are the ones where it struck me the most.

Screenshot from The Cut x Tiffany & Co.'s Valentine's Day: Countdown Calendar

Screenshot from The Cut x Tiffany & Co.’s Valentine’s Day: Countdown Calendar

Brands also promoted their advice for gifts picking on their own channels, such as their e-store. Take Ferragamo. This fashion brand revisited its website with animated attractions setting the tone for a romantic Italy inspired holiday and jewelry-based gift giving. These animations were shared on social media with the hashtag #FerragamoValentine, linking them to a whole campaign. Finally, Tiffany & Co. had a pretty genius idea: a 14-day advent-inspired calendar in The Cut, a New York magazine. This Valentine’s Day: Countdown Calendar featured gift ideas such as Tiffany & Co. jewels, as well as other brands’ candles, spas, chocolates, etc. Starting February 1st, it offered a complete guide to Valentine’s Day’s spirit, and went on for 14 days. This operation leveraged both consumers’ curiosity and impatience. It was a great way to target the brand’s customers as well as the magazine’s readers with useful -yet branded- content.

I will not explore the web further to find millions of other examples as I believe you have by now understood that luxury brands can use many different ways to relate to their customers and help them in their struggles, including Valentine’s Day gift giving.

Let Chanel tell you its story

Inside Chanel (source: Chanel)

Chanel is one of those luxury houses enjoying a rich heritage, built on a brilliant founder and his/her vision. Gabrielle Chanel played a role in women’s emancipation, she dared to say what she thought and she embodied her brand to perfection. She also broke the rule in fashion, jewelry and perfumery and her audacity and vision of free women are now part of Chanel’s DNA.

To leverage this strong history, closely linked to a –literally– extraordinary founder, Chanel has long told its story through ads, product names (think of the Coco and Mademoiselle Coco perfumes, both echoing to Gabrielle’s nickname), and more recently, a website called Inside Chanel.

Inside Chanel is a platform dedicated to Chanel’s history. Quite a paradise for marketers who love a bit of storytelling. And this is a field where Chanel has always been great. With 12 videos, pictures, drawings, ad campaigns, and a chronology, the website immerse visitors into the brand’s universe.

N°5 on Inside Chanel (source: Chanel)

N°5 on Inside Chanel (source: Chanel)

Such a website is a strong tool for luxury brands to make customers feel closer to the brand. Here, Chanel tells different stories: from key products (N°5, the jacket, jewels) to the vision of the brand according to its artistic directors (Gabrielle, Karl Lagerfeld)… The contents are of high quality, and do tell a story, full of interesting and instructive facts. The brand shares a part of itself with demanding consumers who want to feel involved with the house. It extends the user experience with the brand from an in-store or online visit and purchase, to a moment of sharing. And this is something luxury brands should keep on exploiting as it is a key differentiating element between luxury houses. Every house is unique so they should insist on their unique history to build stronger relationships with consumers.