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The Top 10 Brands Using Digital Best

Natalie Yiassoumi

From user-friendly e-commerce platforms to winning social media campaigns, we spotlight the brands with digital savvy.

Digital innovation used to be a tool embraced by young, niche labels as a way of building their audiences and creating buzz in a less costly way. But as the reach and power of all things digital continue to grow, luxury giants need to sustain their empires by expanding their digital presence. They are now investing in user-friendly e-commerce websites, creating dedicated content for their social media platforms and engaging with the consumer through both online and offline events.

In L2’ “Digital IQ Index” – a report that evaluates the digital intelligence of luxury fashion labels – the top 10 spots are dominated by big luxury players, with Gucci leading the way. This highlights the shift in strategy within the luxury market, with big brands becoming less attached to the traditional ideas that luxury is about exclusivity, and instead, opening up their worlds, retelling their stories, and creating experiences through social platforms. Brands are also understanding the increasing importance of e-commerce which now accounts for $19 billion in revenue or 7 percent of sales in the luxury market.

Regardless of where the end purchase occurs, 60 percent of luxury goods purchases are influenced by digital touch points” – this is just one of the eye-opening takeaways derived from research in the digital IQ index.

Some of the criteria used in the ranking include the speediness of the website, search tool functions and customer service options, the frequency of online marketing initiatives, such as newsletters, mobile site compatibility, and the reach and engagement rates across its social platforms.

Kering’s Gucci has proven to be a leader across the board, ranking top of the scale as last year’s most digitally savvy brand. Gucci brought its e-commerce operations in-house, investing in a user-friendly website that offers seamless transactions. Its latest pre-fall video campaign could be viewed in 360 degrees through a partnership with Samsung, while on social media the love of Alessandro Michele’s magpie aesthetic has been shared, generating large amounts of buzz, through its playful imagery and collaborations with various artists — which are often sourced from the Instagram community.

Burberry, another brand which has been known to champion technology and has brought its e-commerce operations in-house, was ranked as the second most digitally-savvy luxury brand.

Technology has been one of the most vital tools in Burberry’s journey to revolutionize its identity beyond the classic check. The way it incorporates physical experiences into technology truly makes the brand stand out from the crowd. For instance, customers can order a customized perfume on the Burberry app with the option to pick up their purchase in-store minutes later. In addition, ahead of its see-now-buy-now catwalk shows, the brand creates anticipation through social media. The customers are then invited to experience the collection and inspiration at a series of events held at its show space.

The following five spots in the ranking are dominated by US’s fashion giants: Coach and Ralph Lauren share the third place, followed by Tory Burch, Coach-owned Kate Spade and Michael Kors.

Since the appointment of Stuart Vevers as creative director, the ailing Coach succeeded in revitalizing itself with a youthful collection, mid-priced accessories, and new retail locations — all promoted through a range of digital initiatives. The brand has been working towards engaging with the younger generation of consumers through digital campaigns with the likes of Selena Gomez – the most followed user on Instagram – and collaborations with a range of bloggers, such as Victoria McGrath of Inthefrow.com, to promote their entry level luxury products.

The brands under the Coach umbrella, including Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman, have been following a similar strategy ranking them at spots 6 and 10 respectively. In fact, it was their digital capabilities and continuous signs of growth in online sales that made both brands attractive acquisitions for Coach.

Kate Spade was among the first labels to host shoppable Facebook Live videos to showcase its new collections. Stuart Weitzman has further established a loyal fan base of its signature “Tieland” boots via blogger campaigns and an ambassadorship with model-of-the-moment Gigi Hadid, who went on to reveal exclusive campaigns and product collaborations on her social media, putting the brand on the radar of her wide following.

For Ralph Lauren, another American lifestyle label that ranked at the top third spot, embracing eCommerce early on meant having another layer to tell the brand’s story.

We don’t just sell clothes, we sell a lifestyle that is exciting,” said Mr Lauren.

That’s why incorporating editorial content, such as style guides, photography and videos, are as essential as a well-merchandised product offering for the Ralph Lauren brand. Its recent online runway show created 400 million impressions and 2 million video plays, according to the company.

Tory Burch and Michael Kors – ranked at numbers five and six respectively – also emphasize the lifestyle that surrounds their products through their online initiatives. Michael Kors is known to engage with his customers and make the most of user-generated content through campaigns such as “What’s in your Kors” or the brand’s recent Mother’s Day contest where users are encouraged to participate. Similarly, Burch maintains a sense of community and a direct dialogue with her audience through the Tory Blog, which promotes recent collections as well as topics such as female empowerment.

Louis Vuitton, which has also been undergoing a revamp under the creative direction of Nicholas Gheshquiere, has focused on communicating its new image through an increased focus on digital media, ranking the brand to number eight. Among its most significant digital moves was the investment in a state-of-the-art app which promotes both the latest collections as well as the “World of Louis Vuitton” – a digital library that narrates the brand’s heritage through moving images.

Tommy Hilfiger and Cole Haan rank at numbers nine and ten. Despite not being an early adopter like Ralph Lauren, Hilfiger has completely shifted the brand’s strategy to focus on digital and tapping into the younger consumers in the past year: a co-branded collection with Gigi Hadid, Instagram-friendly see-now-buy-now shows, and investment in a new app that allows customers to purchase products directly from Instagram have put the brand at the forefront of digital innovation.

On the other hand, Cole Haan – which favours less trend-led, more classic collections – has managed to build its own digital audience and sustain healthy online sales. The brand’s online campaigns focus on the timeless quality of its core items with simple shoppable images shared across its social platforms. The brand also ensures that different content is curated on each platform and has invested in optimizing each one.

All in all, as the online landscape gets increasingly competitive, the brands that are succeeding the most are the ones investing in creating seamless shopping experiences on their e-commerce platforms. They also go further when it comes to engaging with the consumer through creative and original social media campaigns.

Natalie Yiassoumi

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