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With the launch of The Art of the trench, Burberry certainly became the first truly digital luxury brand. The first luxury brand to really understand and adopt digital behaviours to conceive and support its brand online communications. There are many reasons why it became a clear success and digital is certainly one piece of a bigger picture.
However, I’d like to share some thoughts with you on what they’ve done rights and where they might go. All comments are welcomed!
Why Burberry gets it? The first truly digital luxury brandAll images belong to Burberry. Crafted by @DigitalPlanner. London. May 2011.
Case in point.Burberry created its own community inspired from its coreproduct: the trench coat.The company describes the site ‘Art of the Trench’ as ‘a livingdocument of the trench coat and the people who wear it’.Impact on awareness? Between its launch in November 2009and mid-2010 the site had already notched up more than7Mvisits. On facebook, it took a year to have 1M fans, 6 mth todouble that figure and today they reach out to 6.4M fans, tookthem 2 years to get there.Value creation? Brand growth: 86%. It’s ranked 4th in fastestgrowing brands by MillWardBrown. Revenues in the secondhalf of this year had risen by 30% to £860m (sce: Guardian).
Why is this exceptional?For a luxury brand the web is a very tricky environment.The nature of the medium itself contradicts all the vocabulary ofa luxury brand is trying to express itself with:- It is not exclusive. Anyone can enjoy the same experience.- The brand cannot fully control how the final experienced ispackaged.- The consumer decides on how he wants to interact: he can pickthe device, the browser, he’s in full control with the product etc.- Any online brand could benefit from the same onlineexperience. Contrary to the retail environement where you couldecide to have only one store on the Champs-Élysées.
“We could not have been more wrong in our expectations of the internet” - Alex Bolen.Chief executive Oscar de la Renta, quoted in The Economist, on the news that the brand hadreceived an online order for an $80,000 sable coat from a new customer
No.1. The Sartorialist.Art of the Trench showcases images from professionalfashion photographers, Magnum photographers and thepublic.One of the key ingredient is that Burberry leveraged a trendthat was already successult among its target audience. Theexperience includes contributions from celebrated fashionphoto-blogger Scott Schuman, better known as TheSartorialist. He was already a recognized authority andinfluencer among this target market.By doing so, they earned instant credibility in this highlyselective online audience.
No.2. They acknowledged.As IWC recently did with their new website, they took intoconsideration their target audience. They offered an experiencethat matches the digital knowledge and habits of theiraudiences.Outside of the Art of the Trench platform, the website alsoprovides end-users with a great only shopping experience.Flow, options, images have been treated a well as the offlinemerchandising would be, which is not something common inthat industry.
No.3. Digitally savvy.Every images post is ready to be connected and shared throughthe internet. Original content is created and spread onlinesupporting the awareness of the brand online.Like’, ‘Comment’, ‘Share’ all functions making it possible forone to: 1- get the word out online and 2- borrow from theBurberry brand and reflect back on your online status assomeone who has great taste, fashion-sense etc
No.4. Fuelled by love.Burberry based its online communications strategy on sending outone single message that aligns with the brand DNA (British roots)and the product (trench coat). They embedded it in a digitalenvironement using its code and vocabulary properly, all steps beingthere for the brand to succeed. With such a digital statement thebuzz was there day 1 (Nov. 9, 2009) with 1.5M results in Googlewhen searching for ‘art of the trench’.Oh, and of course fans were there too because at the end of the daywhat fuels all this is a true passion for one of the most inspiringfashion brand.
No.5. They embraced it.The unique democratic positioning of the brand allowed it toarticulate a digital vocabulary that is unique and consistant atevery touchpoint.We’ve briefly surfed through the social media initiative, but thisis true for many other initiatives: the brand launched its ownedYoutuve channel in 2005, they orchestrated livestream fashionshows with 3D, they offer an incredibely enriched website. Notonly the communications are digital but the wat the companyoperates is truly digital.
“Attracting the Millennial customer toluxury started two years ago — I said that we can either get crushed or ride the greatest wave of our life” - Ms. Angela Ahrendts - CEO Burberry
Take-awaysAs a luxury brand, Burberry showed the industry that luxurybrands can engage with their audiences online. The days of bigflash story-telling websites might be gone as new venues arecatching-up the attention of the digital savvy luxury consumer:http://www.net-a-porter.com/ for instance.Through its digital commintment, the brand delivered on its‘PRORSUM’ statement.The more niche your community is, the more successful it willbe. Social media is a great tool to reach out to like-mindedcrowds that can posivetly impact your online presence.Brand, culture and consumers are brought together aroundthe same value.
The next Monocle?"Burberry is no longer just a fashion company - today theyare a thriving media enterprise. It is successful not justbecause it makes great clothes but because it understandsthe importance of sparking interest in the community andusing social media to engage and delight their consumers." - J. Shields, VP at Facebook
About the beauty line?The recent launch of the cosmetic line is very interesting,very little luxury brands have succeeded in retailing theircosmetics line online.How Burberry is going to express its uniqueness in thedigital world outside of the key product - trench coat?
Getting mobileBurberry has a huge potential through the mobile world viathe Instagrams world.The Creative Class is currently taking over some mobiletime, could Burberry leverage this trend?Platforms like Instagram could help it go a step further andmove The Art of The Trench to a new mobile stage.
Thank you.Crafted by Isabelle Quevilly. @DigitalPlannerImage credits: Google Images, Burberry fans, Burberry/Testino.London. June 2011.