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Creating a Prestige Experience in the Digital Age

By: Michael Tarquinio
Posted: March 22, 2013, from the May 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • The popularity of the Internet and e-commerce has forever changed the way consumers interact with brands, meaning brands have to find new ways to make and develop connections with consumers.
  • This transition can be particularly difficult for the prestige segment, as much of that world is built around in-person and in-store experiences.
  • Video is a distinct connection opportunity for prestige e-retailing.
  • Creating this type of ability to connect via e-commerce is important as brands follow their fans and consumers into new generations and realms.

As technology continues to evolve and consumers continue to get more digitally savvy, products that are used—and create their consumer connections—in the physical world are finding the need to translate their usual connection points into the more ethereal space of the digital realm. Beauty products fall distinctly into this category, and prestige consumers—currently a significant market for the beauty industry—are among those quickly evolving in how they shop, work and live both online and offline.

In 2013, prestige brands are going to have to take on a lot of online interactive changes and challenges all at once. Brands need to first define who they are and then evaluate how they can take that information and translate it across many different mediums.

They also need to realize that prestige brand consumers use the Web differently than other consumers and decide how they can adjust in order to cater to prestige consumers’ needs. It is extremely important for prestige brand marketers to understand how to reach their target consumer group through different interactive channels, especially video. This has become a critical component for translating the prestige experience online.

What Defines the Prestige Experience

Most prestige brands are defined by their heritage, artistry and craftsmanship. This makes the transition of these brands from traditional mediums such as print and television to online very challenging. If done the right way, they will have a defined edge over their closest competitors. However, to do so, brands need to find an agency capable and experienced enough to understand the brand’s history and how to convert that to the new medium.

It is known that prestige brand shoppers need a complete story when they are shopping online. It is not just about a product—they are motivated by the uniqueness, quality and durability of the product, as well as the lifestyle that surrounds the brand. The brand is forced to tell its users a story. Thus, marketers need to answer questions that range from how the product made to who made the product and who currently uses the product.

Prestige brand shoppers also are likely to consume content from fashion bloggers who keep them up to speed on the newest trends, as well as magazines that show products in the larger context of people, places and events.

For a meaningful online experience, it is extremely important that the content supplied by brands caters to this segment of the consumers’ experience with rich informational options and unique functionality to separate them from competition.

Prestige consumers want to feel as though they are part of an exclusive club, but they also want to be able to showcase and display their purchases in their social circles. Beauty marketers should take advantage of this benefit. The social sites these consumers use are very beneficial to the brand itself, as it helps promote the distribution of content across the Internet so that prospective customers can similarly discover products.

In a Digital World

Many prestige brands have been slow to move to evolving interactive channels for fear of diluting their existing brand cachet or in-store experience, but recent successes from some top prestige brands are starting to prove these fears wrong.

All consumers, especially those in the prestige market, are using laptops, tablets and mobile phones to do their shopping and their shopping research. Convenience has taken precedence over personal touches.

In order to be most successful, it is crucial to understand and identify the core audience when exploring new marketing channels. Once the target audience is identified, it is easier to customize the look and feel, as well as functionality, of the brand’s presence and offerings in order to appeal to each consumer’s hierarchy of needs. This type of approach will likely lead to stronger, deeper brand/consumer connections.

Video has become one of the most powerful channels to translate the prestige experience online. This type of digital channel gives prestige brands the opportunity to tell a more comprehensive story about the brand and its products. By engaging the consumers’ senses through video, the brand can convert its unique perspective into their desire to be part of that brand’s worldview.

Also, in addition to the passive consumption of the video, beauty brands and retailers should also find opportunities to create interactive experiences utilizing “shoppable” video.

Coming of Age

As the world of digital interaction continues to change and evolve, prestige brand marketing must go with it in order to continue catering to prestige consumers. Although most iconic prestige brands will stand as timepieces in the world of retail, the story behind the brand and marketing around them needs to change its delivery in order to stay relevant to the next generation of loyal consumers—and convenient to the existing generation.

Currently the vice president of operations with Double Prime, Michael Tarquinio has more than 10 years of project management experience and also has spent 14 years working in the Internet and e-commerce space. In his current role, he oversees the day-to-day management of Double Prime, which includes overseeing the programs and project managers who are assigned to various accounts and projects as well as any personnel issues for the entire team of 100 employees spread out over 22 states. Tarquinio also works with business development and strategic partnerships, and has been a project manager for many high-profile websites and e-commerce projects, including the first launch of GuitarCenter.com as an e-commerce site. He’s also worked on projects for Musician’s Friend, M&M Mars Drinks, Burberry, Levis, Palm, Maurices, Spanx, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bath & Body Works and Ace Hardware, among others.