This article was originally written for, and appeared in, Fashion’s Collective (www.fashionscollective.com)
Much debate was sparked throughout the latter half of 2010 as to whether, when formulating an initial go-to-market mobile strategy, the more effective approach for fashion marketers is mobile web or a branded rich application. While a variety of treatises have been penned on this topic, the underlying tenet required to effectively address the question has been fundamentally ignored – what is the brand attempting to accomplish with its mobile strategy? This is neither an elemental debate, nor an ethereal one…it is a practical one. Without a well-formulated strategy founded on how best to provide utility and consistent connectivity for the shopper, all else will undoubtedly miss the mark.
To define a correct course of action, it is essential to understand the distinctions in personas between the prototypical mobile web and rich application customer. The mobile web shopper is utilitarian in nature. She desires immediacy; engaging with the brand on her mobile device in limited time intervals, she requires the mobile site to be fast and easy to navigate with a purchase path devoid of unnecessary steps. The nature of the mobile web offering is characterized by the elegance of its simplicity.
On the contrary, the rich application consumer seeks deeper interaction with the brand. She is a supporter and proactively seeks the opportunity to associate with the label. As such, the cornerstone of any successful rich application strategy needs to be positioned with nurture at the forefront of consideration. The application must be equipped with precision touch points designed to nurture your legion of loyalists through exclusivity, expertise, and intimacy.
With these differences in mind, we revisit the fundamental question – what is the brand attempting to accomplish with its mobile strategy? Is the tactic to provide constant accessibility, allowing on-device commerce capabilities for shoppers on the go, or is it to provide a more intimate and exclusive interaction with the brand? Or is it both?
Admirable examples abound on both sides of the mobile nature versus nurture debate. A portrayal that adequately works from a palette of ubiquitous accessibility, without sacrificing brand aesthetic, is the Tory Burch mobile web offering. For a heavily lifestyle-driven label, with Ms. Burch’s view of the fashion landscape at the core of the brand experience, the mobile site allows customers instantaneous access to the brand’s “current trends” guidance, as well as the ability to purchase any product in the catalog through a rich and rapid encounter.
Ever at the forefront of digital fashion marketing, Ralph Lauren’s Collection iPhone application provides gorgeous runway video content and a visually intoxicating view into the brand’s look book, coupled with trend insights and behind the scenes access to the brand. This is a superior representation of the nurture model of the rich application, designed to provide its masses of supporters with expertise and quality, while allowing special accessibility to the brand anywhere, anytime.
Doubtless variant philosophies will continue to disseminate from both aisles of the mobile nature versus nurture debate. However, profitable strategies will always be born of a deep understanding of the brand’s target customer persona, and careful consideration of how best to cater to that customer in a manner consistent with the brand experience and unique to the mobile medium.