Van Cleef & Arpels’ Luxury App for the iPhone

Isaac Mostovicz writes that Van Cleef & Arpels has provided a walk to remember...

More and more luxury companies are creating mobile phone applications to sell their wares and expose their brand–Tiffany & Co. just released their engagement ring finder iPhone app earlier this month, joining Chanel, Net-a-Porter, and many others. Van Cleef & Arpels has also joined the fray, but their app is different from other apps I’ve seen.

Their app, A Day in Paris (the newest version of which just came out this week), doesn’t directly sell Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery — it provides users with “a variety of poetic strolls to guide you in Paris … revealing the most poetic places chosen by the private Van Cleef & Arpels’ blogger community”. The app also has “a new thematic menu to browse the categories of poetic places: arts & culture, gastronomy, shopping, poetic places” and encourages users  “to discover [Paris’s] selective and poetic places and share those magical places with their Foursquare contacts and of course on Facebook if they so choose.”

Providing a positive experience affiliated with the brand (but not directly selling to consumers) is an interesting strategy, and I believe that it sets Van Cleef & Arpels apart. Have a look at the app in action here:

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Luxury in Net-a-Porter’s iPhone App

Isaac Mostovicz writes that luxury in the hand can be accessed anywhere...


Brand loyalty can be created by offering consumers luxury on their schedule. Now that many people have smartphones, luxury houses and retailers are reaching out to these users with smartphone applications so that people can experience luxury brands wherever they are.

It’s an interesting and engaging marketing strategy — people actively choose to install and engage with these applications, and the companes that offer them hope (and expect) that they’ll lead to eventual sales. Earlier this year we saw Chanel begin to offer an iPhone app to show off its newest collections. Now a luxury retailer, Net-a-Porter, has created an iPhone application that allows customers to browse their catalog of luxury items and even make purchases from their iPhones. Alison Loehnis, the vice president of sales and marketing at Net-a-Porter, called this sort of application “the new shop window,” saying that people are ready to move beyond making online purchases from their computers.

I think people may be slightly uncomfortable with making large purchases over their phones initially, but this will decrease as people realize the benefits of being able to purchase what they want from anywhere. One potential benefit: someone might be able to purchase a limited edition luxury good right when it goes on sale while she’s out and about, rather than having to wait at a computer (or miss the opportunity to purchase because she couldn’t get to a computer fast enough). Being exceptional and doing what you want when you want is more of a Lambda characteristic — I believe that they will be the ones to embrace mobile luxury purchases first.

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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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Isaac Mostovicz writes...

The new trend of renting designer items instead of buying them seems bound to extend into the jewellery arena sooner or later….

I would like to discuss this trend from the point of view that the role of luxury is to enhance person’s self esteem.

Today, people seem attached to their “things” as a defensive tactic. However, on its face, it seems as if by renting a “thing” for a day would not do the trick as the temporality of the action will not allow for the needed emotional attachment.

In the ‘old days’ brands that lasted forever, as the London shoe designer that promised that his shoes will exist even after their owner will die, were built around this idea of building a lasting relationship with their owner.

However, with fashion statements that keep on changing every six weeks, luxury brands have had to change their strategy. Good brands have ‘a look’ and then create new incarnations of that look to maintain freshness and exlusivity. For example, my mother in law liked to buy Celine whereas my wife finds this line unsuitable for her. In other words, people start to be identified with certain brands and even when fashion changed, “their” brand supplied them with their needed look and feeling part of a stable fashion.

Nevertheless, we can see people who are able to establish their own brand or statement. In this case, the brand that they use does not have a real meaning in that we talk about a “Chanel” woman as in such a case, it is the woman who decides on what fits her.

Thus, we can see two trends that derive from the development of luxury brands. The older trend is a message of security and power where the woman can make her own statement, regardless to the message that the brand is interested in.

The newer trend is one of instability and temporality when a woman is looking for her own identity. With mounting costs of luxury and designer’s items this identity-seeking exercise became exorbitantly expensive.

Thus, these women will look for more economic solutions and will prefer to test their look before committing to purchase or even not buy at all as they lack security.

If they are from the latter group, they do not need to purchase as they can create their own contemporary look.

A luxury marketers what we need to check is whether this trend announces a change in the market in that the luxury market will not grow per se, but change its patterns…
or does this trend open more opportunities that will bring into the market people that otherwise would not be part of it.

We should not think, for one minute that this trend will not change internal patterns, though.

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