Index measures digital competence of luxury brands

By Katie Nichol

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Luxury brands

Despite the increased number of luxury brands that are embracing e-commerce and using social media to market their products, many are failing to exploit the internet’s potential, according to a recent study by NYU Stern School of Business.

Only 33 per cent of luxury brands were selling online a year ago, revealed the study, viewing the internet as too mainstream and preferring instead to maintain their exclusivity through selling in selected retail outlets.

As a consequence of the recession, however, more than two-thirds of luxury brands have some sort of online presence today.

The NYU report, entitled the digital IQ index, rated the digital competence of 109 luxury brands, 11 of which were from the Beauty and Skincare category.

Genius to feeble

The ratings, which ranged from ‘genius’ to ‘feeble’ focused on four criteria; search engine optimization, brand translation, leveraging the media, and social media.

With a digital IQ of 109, luxury cosmetics brand, Clinique, was found to be one of the best digital performers. The brand’s facebook page has 55,000 fans, and provides users with updates on special offers and events.

The report noted that Clinique “is the only brand in the Beauty & Skincare category with the confidence to include user reviews on product pages.”

Of Lancôme, it was observed that “beauty’s social media giant engages users on all three social media platforms,” ​which referred to its presence on facebook, YouTube and twitter.

The brand has recently launched an iphone application, available in both English and Chinese, for their autumn/winter ’09 make-up collection that allows users to try out key looks and email them to friends.

Some brands struggle with e-commerce

Although some brands are keen to innovate in the digital realm, with facebook fan pages, twitter feeds and iphone applications, it was revealed that other brands struggle with simple e-commerce.

“Their visually stunning sites pay little attention to communicating product information, catalyzing a transaction or developing a relationship with the consumer,”​ said the report

Make-up brand Stila was the worst performer in its category. The report cited static website content and a lack of social media messaging in rating the brand as ‘feeble’.

However, with the recent launch of its own online make-up channel that aims to rival the many make-up lessons posted on YouTube, it would appear that the brand has reviewed its approach to online marketing.

The digital index was created by Scott Galloway, clinical associate professor at NYU Stern, and was aimed at diagnosing digital strengths and weaknesses to help companies achieve a greater return on incremental investment.

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