luxury iPhone apps

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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Tiffany launches iPhone App

Isaac Mostovicz writes that finding an engagement ring can now be done anywhere...

Last year I wrote about Chanel and Net-a-Porter apps making it to the iPhone. Since then, more luxury companies are expanding their marketing efforts and finally embracing the online sphere. Today Tiffany launched a new iPhone app that allows people (I’d imagine primarily men) to easily browse Tiffany’s range of engagement rings.

While one can’t purchase rings directly from within the app, it does offer a decent amount of utility. Users can scroll through all of Tiffany’s different cuts, fixtures and collections for engagement rings — 44 combinations in all. You can also figure out what size you need by placing an existing ring on screen and matching it to a digital sizer. And if you need more help, you can call or set up a meeting with a representative from Tiffany from within the app.

The app doesn’t do anything more than what Tiffany already offers on its website, but by offering an app, I believe Tiffany will expose its rings to a larger number of (predominantly younger) luxury consumers who have iPhones. These consumers are discerning and like their luxury on demand–they should appreciate the ability to browse rings wherever they are. People can even design rings and then share them via email and Facebook. These sharing functionalities will appeal to Theta personalities who will want their ‘marrying friends’ to know that they fit in and are getting rings. That it’s still possible to design a very unique ring within the app will help it appeal to Lambda personalities.

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Luxury in Net-a-Porter’s iPhone App

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

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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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