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Can Luxury Survive Online?
By: Kaitlin T. Gallucci
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Traditionally, luxury brands have been somewhat slower than others to adopt an online strategy. It’s not for a lack of ability, but “for fear of compromising a prestigious brand image.” Of course, with the evolution of cross-channel marketing and retail, consumers expect a brand to be available both on and offline, and having a presence across channels has become essentially prerequisite for modern business. So, though slowly, the luxury retailers are coming online.
Some luxury brands have established innovative and brand-appropriate online initiatives, such as Burberry, Ralph Lauren, and Oscar de la Renta. That appropriateness is what’s so difficult to achieve in such a user-controlled channel. As Kelly Hushin explains, “The idea of making everything so available and transparent to everyone turns some luxury brands off. If this couture gown is available to the masses, what makes it special?” How can luxury remain luxury online?

Online marketing strategies need to remain true to the brand’s values, and this certainly applies to all brands, luxury or otherwise. For those brands with such an established luxury reputation, online engagement needs to “respect” that reputation. Some of the most successful luxury brands are accomplishing this with online content, like Tiffany's What Makes Love True, LVMH’s NOWNESS, and Burberry’s Art of the Trench and Acoustic. If a brand is seen as an “icon” or an “authority” in the luxury realm, producing relevant online content can support that.
Still, with runway shows now streaming live online (sometimes on Facebook), it is a challenge to maintain a sense of exclusivity. Will luxury brands lose their exclusivity in the age of e-commerce?

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About the Author
Kaitlin T. Gallucci is a New York based direct and digital marketing strategist. She tweets here.
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