Monday, October 26, 2009

Social 'Media-mania', Let's Break it down!

Twitter, Face Book, YouTube, MySpace, Blogs, ASmallWorld, Second Life, Qzone and every innovative and collaborative online social media platform that has emerged in the last few years have transformed the way we communicate online - and in real life - forever. We just cannot ignore this anymore.

They provide new ways of interacting and sharing experiences on every subject imaginable including luxury and have moved the client from the bottom to the top of the relationship with luxury brands. For the first time, the real people behind the purchases that have made luxury companies wealthy have the clout and power to influence thousands of others with just a few clicks.

On the other side of the wall, these tools have brought unexpected challenges for luxury brands and have raised the question of how luxury should present itself online. While brands have been used to brand image projection through 'high-gloss images' splattered in controlled PR, marketing and advertising environments, they currently have to speak in the language of 'words' to evoke the same desired feelings that are suppossed to make clients dream. Luxury brands are also currently required to 'converse with' rather than 'dictate to' clients. The days of the luxury brand as the king of the show seem to be destined to disappear.

But what is really happening in luxury land in the face of these issues? Confusion!

Some brands have joined the bandwagon on Twitter and Facebook while others have gone the way of blogging and nearly all luxury brands have YouTube accounts. Although these actions are in response to opportunities presented by technology, many have been adopted without assimilation, strategic thinking and the right execution. At Luxe Corp, we feel that it's time for this confusion to be addressed.

Following the analysis already presented in Luxury Online, several news reports and analysis by forward-thinking digital citizens, we are organising a Breakfast Seminar on the platform of Club e-Luxe, the executive club we manage for luxury e-business practitioners, on 8th January 2010 at the Four Seasons George V Hotel, Paris. Through the voices of experts, thought leaders, analysts, practioners and strategists, this ever challenging and exciting issue that luxury brands have been so apprehensive about will be addressed and hopefully lead to the emergence of best practices.

Join us to break this relevant topic down. Places are limited to 40 luxury professionals so reserve early to avoid disappointment. Email for full brochure and looking forward to seeing you!

In the meantime you may also watch a video clip of the last Club e-Luxe International Summit held last June at the Ritz Hotel, Paris.

Friday, October 23, 2009

La Maison de Twitter - Sense or Sensless for Luxury?

"What is this Twitter madness all about?"

This was the question thrown open to 25 people - mainly luxury and media pofessionals, at a recent dinner.


Then one bold answer came, "I think it's senseless. How can people spend so much time 'web-texting' messages and links that no one really cares about? I mean who really cares to receive a text if Chloé has launched this season's new handbag or if the new Yves Saint Laurent perfume was featued in Elle? I don't get it, these tweets come every five seconds and then you're saturated and you don't bother looking at them anymore?"
Silence ... then all eyes on Chloé ...

Another answer, "I think it's useful to keep people connected with the brand or the person tweeting. It's really for in-the-moment news and updates"

"Yes, but Tweeter's main question is 'What are you doing?' and not 'How many press features or Press Releases can you dump on people every two minutes?'

"No, but it's purpose is to keep people informed in real time and I think everyone can choose what this information should be and how they're linked or not"

And the debate began. In no time all of the 25 people were speaking excitedly.

This often happens when Twitter is discussed these days particularly in the context of luxury. People wonder if it makes sense to tweet and link every thought or piece of news that comes our way or every single breath that a luxury brand takes in a bid to drive traffic to the website. But it doesn't really have much to do with the content of the tweet itself, right? Is it not more about the visibility, the buzz, the followers, the following and just the plain satisfaction of being in the moment?

Most tweets are boring anyway and the links are oftentimes irrelevant. The sheer rate of tweeting is also appalling - I've received 6 from the NYT and 8 from WWD since I began writing this post! And I bet you that it won't be long before YSL, Chloé and others come calling with their press features and tinyurls.

My question is "does it make sense to say something just to say something 100 times per day or should we say something only when we really have something to say?" Luxury brands, let's take a moment to think about this.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oh Alexander!

One of the beautiful things about Paris Fashion Week is that it is a time when creativity is let loose, inhibitions abandoned and spirits soar. At fashion shows and events, on the streets and in the salons, all cares are cast aside and there seems to be more positive energy (or the perception of it) in the air. This may be the reason that it seems to be a time to sit back and enjoy the creativity and innovation that could appear in the fashion horizon from any angle.

Watch the Alexander McQueen show

This season it came from two designers, first from Alexander McQueen who demonstrated yet again that he's pro-innovation and that he understands that technology is the best means of ensuring that the spice of originality is maintained in a luxury brand.

Presenting his colourful, jellyfish (and yes, wearable) collection on models dressed as futuristic personas that glided and floated (rather than strutted) through the catwalk, the techno-set was completed with two live robot cameras that also glided on the stage while transmitting images to a giant background screen and also live to the internet. As you may have already guessed 29,000 hits in one second led the server to crash but the show went on and the intrigue outlived the performance. By the end of the show the audience were spellbound and I think it really hit home to the roomful crowd that technology is already changing the face of fashion forever.

Manish Arora surrounded by models after his show at the Crazy Horse in Paris
(Photo from the IHT / New York Times)

My second wow moment during this week of shows that somewhat spelt 'sameness' and lots of 'deja vu' moments was when I saw Manish Arora's collection at Crazy Horse. Yes, Manish Arora the Indian designer who has broken the mould into Paris Fashion Week! Not only was his collection what I would call simply 'sublime' in terms of marrying creative attention, sophistication and comfort but the presentation on the mini-stage was also well thought out and perfectly used innovation and technology to maximize mimium resources. In the place of the now passé models strutting down endless runways, Manish had his models pose in trios as static mannequins on stage while a pre-programmed motor gradually spinned them around ensuring that each piece was viewed in 3-D. It may sound simple enough but guess who thought about it first? Watch out for the bandwagon effect that is so common in luxury and fashion.

No brand moved me this fashion season like Alexander McQueen and Manish Arora and their boldness in using the tools provided by technology to reinforce their creativity is sending a bell ringing in luxury land, I hope.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hello, Luxury!

Doug Larson was right when he said that, "Utility is when you have one telephone, luxury is when you have two, opulence is when you have three - and paradise is when you have none".

In our current crazily hyper-connected world, it's unthinkable to exist without a mobile phone, or worse still, to function for 30 straight minutes without fidding with our phones in the name of emailing, texing, tweeting, photographing or just touching the keyboards as an uncounscious symptom of the "mobile phone virus" that has gripped our generation! We're all infected and we've chosen the path of 'anti-paradise' if we're to believe Doug Larson. But luxury brands have also understood that clients don't have to be far from paradise because of the mobile phone madness, alas the inroad of luxury into the mobile phone area.

Some brands have taken the path of creating the mobile phone devise through co-branding (think Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Armani); others went the way of the single brand (Dior, Tag Heuer), yet others went for extreme exclusivity (Boucheron). On the other hand several other brands have chosen the path of the mobile phone content (Chloé, Chanel, Van Cleef & Arpels, etc) albeit through a single mobile phone brand - Apple. The latter seeems to be the where the bug has bitten most luxury brands lately. Everywhere I turn these days I seem to run into yet anotehr iPhone application by a luxury brand featuring more or less the same catlogue-style content that we can find online.

Should the mobile phone application be the same as the online content? It could be, but I don't think this is where the story should end. I think that the enormous potential of the mobile phone as a complementary tool and the strongest relationship enhancer is still untapped by luxury brands. Of course the key is having rich content but the content is only enriched when its focus is on a one-to-one personlized level. As the most personal of all the communications media existing today, why can't be mobile content be used to fulfil the reason that it exists in the first place - personalized interaction? Find our more on this topic in Luxury Online...