Friday, April 22, 2011

Culture, Tradition, Modernism, Luxury Brands and Perfumery - The NEW ERA CONT

Continuing our journey through luxury brands and their history, we finally arrived to our present times. In this final part of the article, we will reflect on the changes and major challenge companies are facing to pace up with the velocity of the digital era, and how marketing strategies are developed in this new context.

Lovely EDP by SJP - the website

The beginning of an era:
Once most Luxury brands understood that launching a website did not drove them away from the image of elegance and exclusiveness, that ads in magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire and Elle wasn't just going to be enough to bring consumers attention to their brands, and once they understood that fast and continued accessibility was the key to survive in the present times, they ran to hire web and graphic designers to launch their digital luxury space. The challenge was how to bring the elements of tradition and high quality standards to their website. As we mentioned previously, French brand Hermés cleverly presents hand made illustrations, bringing online, the concept of handcraft tradition. Names like Marc Jacobs launched fragrance campaigns offering to his customers one web site that reveals an experience. He invited his public to share ideas and to even grow virtual daisies of their own (campaign for his Fifi award winner, Daisy EDP). Thierry Mugler went to the same direction by asking people all over the world to help him build a mosaic of images for his newest launch, Womanity. Samples of future launches began to be distributed before the perfumes reached the counters. In 2005 Sarah Jessica Parker invited all her fans to join her Lovely website to receive samples of the fragrance.
Web sites also brought a different way to purchase. On line boutiques sell virtually what was once sold personally. The relationship sales person-consumer was broken, and instead consumers began to explore the sales experience via Internet.

Moving forward:
As brand's website and on line shops were established and successfully reaching consumers, luxury brands learned that they were still one step behind consumers' behavior in the internet. For a long period of time they turned their back to social medias and blogging. They did not realize that the more we advance into the digital era, the more we go back to the simple one-to-one way of communication. 

As blogs about perfume began to pop up in 2005, people were exchanging their preferences and impressions about fragrances on line for the first time . Soon brands realized that some of these blogs were a great space to advertise their products and began to send their samples to be reviewed, risking in the beginning, to get also a lot of criticism. The next step was to sponsor them. On line shops also looked for new places to advertise their links. In one hand, this sponsoring took a lot of blogger's independence to give a truthful opinion about the products they were sampling. In another hand, it also gave them more income to acquire more fragrances to try and write about. (before anyone jumps now, I am not here to judge anyone, just to mention how things are developing. Each perfume blog knows how to manage their own business and consumers know who to trust or not). 
Perfumers and Fragrance House were several times giving statements that they didn't care about what was said in these blogs, or that they had no influence on sales... Little did they know! Today, perfumers and fragrance houses took one step down of their pedestal and they do give interviews to blog writers, and they DO monitor what is said on line. Sometimes they even link to these comments in their websites under "press release".
But back to luxury brands... most recently luxury brands had to face the real challenge: how to introduce this type of channel of communication to their brands? In the fashion industry it was easy to manage blogs. They had runaways to promote, trends to talk about, press releases to link to, etc... But what about fragrances? Is it easy to manage a corporate blog about fragrances? As we know, image is everything for luxury brands. 
Another key word for this market is PASSION. Creating a blog  estimates the passion people has for the brand. It gives to their most passionate fans opportunity to celebrate it on line. Their voice is now heard and published. They feel they became a part of the brand by writing in the brands blog. They live the brand through their postings. In the other hand, the challenge is to remain exclusive. 
How to balance the accessibility with exclusiveness? How to jiggle desirability with full disclosure and the element of surprise? Many questions brands have to ask today.

The internet expands one-to-one communication - The new era of social medias:
As we move forward into digital history, getting social is a huge challenge to luxury brands. Most of them are still trying to understand how to build a social media strategy. The think is, if you don't talk about your brand on line, other people will do the talking about you in your place! That is the first rule on Twitter! (come to my TWITER by clicking HERE)
Communication is personal, less formal, less "snobby", but crucial. When fans create their own page to talk about a luxury brand, the brand itself looses the control of what is published. To make things worst, Twitter gave the possibility to spread the word globally, in seconds. Brands have to run fast and bring good strategist who knows how to deal with compliments, but mostly, the ones who knows how to cope and answer to criticism.  Social media comments are also great thermometers of the market. A good digital marketing team knows how to profit from it. Brand have to monitor their websites and social medias.

So, pages in facebook and Twitter were created and people began to chat and comment the posts. But do they all offer original content? Brands are still baby walking in terms of content production. Some luxury brands are still delivering non stop commercial messages, such as their sales and promotions. Which is crucial info for shoppers by the way, but very very boring, and easy to decide to stop following. Consumers are now in a stage that they want inspiration, they want to feel amused, to connect to the brand.
Some brands have created sharable artifacts, such as applications for Iphone, Ipads etc..., special gifts, wallpapers or pictures for downloading, etc...
As they are still figuring out what to exhibit in their blogs, facebook became what is call today a micro blog. Fragrance groups in facebook were created to share experiences and preferences. I is hard to follow us!! They will need to speed up indeed before we move to the next thing! (Come to PERFUME TALKS - my group in facebook where we discuss fragrances, by clicking HERE).

The future is here:

With the creation of internet gadgets, such as Ipads, iPods etc... luxury brands also saw an opportunity to launch new luxury products such as Chanel's Ipad leather case displayed above, or Louis Vuitton's cell phone case.
The same market has to be explored in terms of applications and technologies, as cell phones are the next trend. Everything we do online will be concentrated in one mobile device: the cell phone. Knowing that Givaudan has already teamed up with Osmoz to launch an Iphone application which fragrance passionates can have info about launches, their favorite brands, info about the nearest perfumery shop with an geolocator etc... The application offers an advisor too.

So we are back to where we started. Influencing and passing  the  traditions, cultural values, trends, preferences, likes and dislikes in a  one-to-one/mouth-to-mouth. The difference now is that we are doing this GLOBALLY and ON LINE. ;-) 

1 comment: said...

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