Lessons in luxury, brand experience and purpose from digital brand strategist Marissa Vosper of Wolff Olins.
Fashion Night Out (FNO) is more than a successful publicity stunt with corresponding t-shirts and celebutantes — it is a reminder of what great retail can, and should be: Social. Experimental. Interactive. Cross-Category. And most importantly, fun. Something about the event manages to get people away from their screens and out into the streets. It is a reminder of why brick and mortar stores still matter and why shopping, live, is irreplaceable.
For the luxury sector, expressing an offline allure is the ultimate challenge in a digital world. Without the ability to touch and feel, for example, how does a luxury retail brand signal high quality and craftsmanship? In a completely open medium, how can a luxury retailer maintain an air of exclusivity?
Part of the trick is having a thoughtful and cohesive brand strategy that can guide decision-making both online and off: from dressing rooms to zoom capabilities and Instagram posts. The capability (and hence the typical customer interaction) on a web or mobile site is completely different from that of a store. So the strategic design of those experiences should be well, quite different as well. This presents an opportunity, but also requires more effort. The exploding influence of digital makes it all the more critical for brands to get their teams across platforms whether web, mobile or in-store completely and obsessively focused on a unified brand purpose.
This is not to say that the online experience ought to mimic the offline experience. Rather, many brands are falling into the digital reflection trap, using online space to simply duplicate a physical space in a web 1.0 shopping cart mentality. Some digitally behind luxury brands that come to mind (and accordingly rank low on the L2 Digital IQ Index include Zac Posen, St. John, Mikimoto, Manolo Blahnik, Moschino, Givenchy.
A strong brand brings all of the pieces together. Its purpose clearly comes to life through various platforms while also being able to adapt how it expresses itself to those different contexts. The result is to compliment, not cannibalize, as they drive customers in-store, online, and always back for more.