By Adam Broitman, Director of Emerging and Creative Strategy, Morpheus Media
There is no doubt that over the past 10 years the world of media has gotten a facelift. The question I have been asking myself is–while the world of media was changing–did the definition of luxury change?
The definition of luxury has always been centered on certain core attributes–elegance, refinement, indulgence, comfort, service, quality and extravagance (to name just a few). Technology may have changed the way that certain luxuries are experienced but there is no substitution for the aforementioned qualities. In a phrase; luxury is timeless.
Given that the core attributes of luxury are timeless it is imperative that brand marketers keep up with the changing media landscape in order to present their brands in a way that highlights these attributes; the alternative is the decimation of a brand’s image and the relegation of products associated with these brands to becoming toys of the hoi polloi.
Many luxury retailers are doing a good job of replicating in store experience in the online space. On the flip side, a disturbingly large percent of luxury brands are doing an inadequate job of replicating their luxury image online. The disconnect lies in the fact that many luxury brand marketers simply don’t understand what luxury means in an interactive world. Some brand marketers do well with the surface level presentation of their brand online but completely gloss over the idea that the medium is the message. If online communications are treated like a digital magazine, a brand message can be completely distorted.
Let’s step away from the notion of luxury for a moment and think about how people access and find information online. According to the research center at the Pew Internet and American Life project, search engine usage has become the second most prevalent activity online (second only to email). 49% of internet users interact with a search engine on a daily basis (this is up from about 33% of internet users in 2002). It should come as no surprise that in an age where “google” is used as a verb, searching is the second most important online activity. What may come as a surprise to some is that higher income households are more likely to use a search engine on a given day. 62% of Internet users with a HHI $75k+ (this highest HHI bracket in this study) interact with search engines on a typical day. In light of this information brand managers that are not paying close attention to how their brand is found online have some catching up to do.
If you do a search for “Prada” on Google, the first natural ranking is from Prada. While I have a lot to say about how Prada’s site is optimized for search on the term “Prada”, I will save that for another time (or you can download the presentation I gave at the Luxury Interactive conference this year where I explore this topic further). If you do another, more focused search for “Prada sunglasses” you get the following results:
Paid Search Result Number One (paid search varies)
According to a study done by iProspect 68% of searchers will click on a result on the first page. Prada is nowhere to be found on the first page of results for the term “Prada sunglasses”. Furthermore, 39% of search users equate a company’s prominence with their position in a search engine. The sites that show up on SERP’s (search engine results pages) for the term “prada sunglasses” are not reflective of the way that most people think of the brand, and I imagine brand managers at Prada would not be happy with some of the associations that are being made through the sites found in these search results.
The new media landscape is more complex than ever before. In an era where you are how you are found, luxury brand marketers really need to take stock of how their brand is being presented to consumers. While search engine marketing may not seem like the most luxurious practice, one things is certain—findability is luxury.
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