Chanel: Experimenting with Luxury Online

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

Kimberly Castro, who writes the US News and World Report’s Luxe Life blog, recently shared an interesting insight from one of her friends about luxury companies moving online:

Luxury brands have been having a hard time on the Internet because ‘luxury’ is an experience. It’s something that you need to feel, taste, and touch with your own eyes and hands. It’s difficult to sell luxury goods online, i.e., a Louis Vuitton bag, because with that one-touch point, you’re missing out on the other variables involved in the ‘luxury’ experience. A luxury product is there for you to dream. It’s difficult to convey this ‘feeling’ online.

I agree with this sentiment–luxury is an experience that different individuals interpret differently, and companies can manage that experience to a great extent in-store. Still, I don’t think the fact that it’s more difficult to convey a brand proposition online should be an excuse for luxury companies to drag their feet in getting online. It probably will take some trial and error to find the right mix of exclusivity, access and service for an online audience.

One example of a company trying something new is Chanel–they have created an iPhone application that displays videos, photos, and news related to Chanel’s latest collections (link to application here, blog post on the application here). The app updates itself when new collections come out, and also includes a store locator. It’s an interesting way to engage with a technologically savvy, relatively young audience who may have more disposable income than the average person. I bet we’ll see other companies finding similarly unique ways to engage with audiences in 2009.

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