In the opening scene of Episode 401 of Mad Men, Don Draper, Senior Partner and Creative Director for Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce, is asked by a reporter from Advertising Age what was the genesis of his idea for the Glo-Coat floor wax ad that, ultimately, earns him a CLIO. His response strikes at the essence of where, I believe, the opportunity for mobile applications to truly add value to the luxury retail segment begin to take form.
I wanted it (the ad) to be indistinguishable from the movies. I wanted people to ask, “what’s happening in the story now? … oh, it’s something else.” It’s not an ad. At least not the first thirty seconds.
What I find particularly relevant in this quote is the concept of blurring the lines between the attraction and advertisement. This concept represents the opportunity for mobile in luxury retail. Blurring the lines between the true attraction of luxury brands – the opulence of the in-store experience – and the augmentative engagement capabilities possible with mobile rich applications is at the core of Mobile 2.0. Making it difficult to comprehend where one experience ends and another begins in a seamlessly interconnected clienteling effort is the most clear and present opportunity for mobile to make a positive impact on the luxury shopper’s experience with the brand.
This practice of blurring the lines between the very tactile, sensual in-store shopping experience and the shopper’s experience with the brand on their mobile device serves to effectively bridge the chasm that e-commerce has been unable to construct and maintain for luxury brands. The inherent disconnection from the essence of the physical brand experience in a tethered e-commerce environment has always been at the core of luxury brands’ reluctance to venture into its realm. Mobile, by contrast, is far more than simply a one-to-one representation of retailers’ e-commerce presence (if they even have one). Mobile is, instead, the galvanizing medium for multi-channel unification, providing efficiencies in a time-starved world and adding value to the lives of luxury shoppers.
In their April 2010 Trends Briefing, trendwatching.com re-introduced the concept of Brand Butlers as an emerging trend in retail defined by the simple tagline “Serving is the New Selling:”
With pragmatic, convenience-loving consumers enjoying instant access to an ever-growing number of supporting services and tools (both offline and online), brands urgently need to hone their ‘butlering skills’*, focusing on assisting consumers to make the most of their daily lives, versus the old model of selling them a lifestyle if not identity.
The retail revolution currently underway is certainly far more powerful than any tool designed to facilitate its movement. The real heart of this revolution is shift from traditional B2C go-to-market strategies to a C2B model where consumers are armed with more information resources, access to social shopping applications, and technologies than ever before in the history of retail. To address this, Luxury Retailers who take a proactive, strategic approach to providing applications that enhance the in-store experience for shoppers, including:
- barcode/QR code scanning to access to exclusive content and product/brand stories from print, in-store signage, etc.
- location-based check-in to drive loyalty program participation, integrated private label video “lookbook” content, exclusive access to pre-release product available only through the app
- “virtual closet” capabilities allowing for the assembly of “wish lists” to be forwarded to the boutique, picked and arranged in the dressing room before arrival
… will be at the forefront of this new revolution in retailing.
The overarching point here being – mobile is not e-commerce on a four inch screen. It’s implications on the in-store clienteling initiatives for luxury retailers are extraordinarily powerful.
I want the app to be indistinguishable from the store. Where one ends, the other begins and, in the midst, complete synergy that stays true to the essence of the brand experience and the experience we provide to our customers.
Ok, I’m not Don Draper but, hell, who is … ?