Digital Marketing Meets Luxury: Return on Interaction is the New ROI

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As digital marketing meets luxury brands, every interaction informs the next customer engagement.

“The luxury industry is at a turning point,” said Chris Moody, creative director at Wolff Olins, to an audience hosted by The Guardian in association with Harrods Media.

Representatives from Guardian Media Network, Harrods and Jaguar Land Rover participated in the event, and digital technology was center stage, as audience members submitted questions to the industry experts using iPads.

Laura Schwab, marketing director, Jaguar Land Rover, summed up the current luxury car conundrum: “The amount of times people actually go to a car dealership has diminished. By the time they get to the door, all they really want to do is test drive. All the research, everything, happens online.”

“We don’t do a lot of print,” she added. “For Land Rover it is close to zero, and for Jaguar a small percentage of our budget. We do no big bulk emails. We have moved away from newsletters and into personalised content.”[more]

Schwab shared how Land Rover’s #Hibernot (the opposite of “hibernate”) campaign started socially, promoting the notion that Land Rover owners “embrace winter in the UK, get out and enjoy it,” rather than being depressed or shut-in by the cold, which “really rings true to the core values of Land Rover.”

Guy Cheston, media sales director at Harrods Media, agreed that while “print and other media have still got high circulations… that point will tip soon, particularly with the younger generation who haven’t grown up reading a glossy magazine every month.”

That’s why Harrods created a game app, Stiletto Wars, to promote its Shoe Heaven.

“It is quite challenging to reach that younger female customer, which was the aim of our campaign. The only way that you could get the game was by downloading the Harrods app, so for us it was a fantastic success.”

Cheston referenced Nike and Burberry for creative digital marketing savvy. “They seem to have got it so much earlier than everybody else. It is very powerful. In terms of retail sales we can see how effective that can be in a Nike or a Burberry promotion compared with another brand which is less dynamic.”

Harrods Stiletto Wars app

Cheston also shared that Harrods has been experimenting with beacons—small devices embedded in signs or displays that can push information to nearby smartphones. He also indicated the company was interested in interactivity between fixed digital signage and mobile devices. “Can we get both talking to each other as people go through the store?”

The panelists agreed that “digital marketing means a change of mind-set and not just a change of medium,” which means measuring return on interaction rather than traditional ROI.

“You are building a relationship with people who may continue to use your product for the next 25 years,” said Moody. “Those interactions, particularly through social streams that you can get through digital, are super valuable. It would be a shame not to invest in that.”

But once invested, brands must be willing to step up. “You can’t decide ‘Oh, but we are a little tired and it’s Sunday,’” said Schwab.

The bottom-line on new technologies relative to customer engagement, “It comes back to being human,” said Moody. “You need to engage with people as you would want to be engaged with yourself.”

Like any messaging, digital marketing and smart technology must be transparent enough to let the humanity show through.

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