As discussed in prior posts, mobile is unique as a channel in a luxury retailers multi-channel mix not simply as a scaled-down version of a brand’s e-commerce presence for search, browse and buy but, ultimately, as a galvanizing force behind multi-channel unification. For today’s topic, I will discuss how mobile can be effectively leveraged in the boutique to create a compelling interactive brand “experience” with shoppers and how brands can build evolutionary “stories” for their legions of brand fanatics who turn to them as as a trusted source for style guidance, all while shopping in the boutique.
In September, Jones New York (JNY), a subsidiary of the newly-branded Jones Group, launched a creative mobile-focused campaign in partnership with Macy’s Herald’s Square store designed to engage shoppers in a heavily-video-driven campaign leveraging 2D bar code scanning to deliver rich product, brand and style guide content while they shop. The JNY campaign allowed shoppers to scan the 2D codes in embedded signage throughout the display and, in turn, engage with their shoppers via 25 unique videos, including a message from Jones New York’s’ “Empowering Your Confidence” Campaign Ambassador Dee Dee Myers; video quotes of inspirational women from the Jones New York Little Black Book of Career Advice; and style tips from the Jones New York Style Guy, Lloyd Boston. Consumers also had an opportunity to view the making of the “Jones New York Empowering Your Confidence” campaign shot by Annie Leibovitz in Grand Central Station through an exclusive behind the scenes documentary. As reported in TheStreet.com:
Jones New York created this space to reflect the company’s “Empowering Your Confidence” campaign, which is a broad national initiative celebrating the brand’s over 35 years of empowering women’s lives and successes through style. The Jones New York shop features an intuitive store design that guides shoppers to put together a working wardrobe.
This campaign, in support of the “Empowering Your Confidence” initiative at JNY has effectively elevated the brand’s market positioning away from from being simply an apparel retailer and, in turn, commemorates Jones New York’s 35-plus years of empowering women’s lives and careers through style. This shift in marketing and branding ideology illustrates a perfect representation of an ever-increasing trend among brands to focus on brand and product “storytelling” as opposed to pure product marketing whereby, in this example, a brand like JNY becomes the heralded advocate of professional women and the messenger celebrating the impact these women have made in driving economic progress in the United States.
In his November 17th article in his series “Building Your Luxury Brand Love Story,” Luxury Society contributor Philippe Mihailovich of HauteLuxe (www.hauteluxe.net) eloquently (and correctly) describes the market conditions and shopper mindset that are driving this strategic shift in this way:
… the brands can no longer control their brand messages in the way that they used to. There is too much information coming in, from blogs to traditional media to opinions of friends and the brand’s competitors. Luxury brands need to recognise that they have to engage with consumers on a more personal, emotional as well as functional level, in order to succeed in today’s marketplace because sooner or later they will move on and leave your brand behind. As with human relationships, you need to build shared experiences with the other, over time. It’s about building stories, not telling stories.
Creating a successful and enduring luxury marque is about forging a deep emotional bond with the consumer. The luxury brand must aim to become a soulmate. When you have a one-to-one relationship, you don’t need to ‘brand’ yourself, you already exist in the mind and hopefully, heart of the other. You are unique to your client and your client is unique to you … Every luxury ‘brand’ should aim to become a new soulmate.
The power of Mihailovich’s argument is that it speaks directly to the essence of what defines brands as “luxurious.” The deep, personal, exclusive customer experience of the luxury brand defines not only the brand, but the identity of the brand fanatics that share that personal relationship with it. In the case of JNY, they have provided not only utility and a unique mobile experience for their shoppers visiting the Macy’s Herald’s Square store, but have built a brand story as a brand who celebrates, supports, and dresses professional women.
This precise example of what I term “experience blurring,” where the lines of demarcation between the tactile, sensual boutique experience and the augmentative mobile offering are melded to present a differentiated shopper experience adds another effective variable to my mobile success equation for luxury brands: luxury + utility + effective “storybuilding” = brand loyalty.