QRcodes give advertisers the opportunities to be creative in the ‘noise’ through minimising the data enclosed (for instance using a URL shortener) and careful positioning of the data within the square.
Swiss luxury watch brand Jaeger LeCoultre uses some carefully placed watch components in their QRcode and the complexity of QRcodes to human eyes (rather like the visual complexity of a watch movement). It was a subtle understated modification of a QRcode that fitted right in with the brand.
Want to build a creative QRcode? QArt Coder is a good place to start
The decline of the middle in terms of brands has mirrored a global decline in the middle class. This has prompted brands to move up the food chain. We have seen this in Japan as the country moved over the past two decades from consuming a lot of luxury goods by the likes of Louis Vuitton to homegrown companies providing the best of everything from Michelin-star restaurants and gourmet coffee shops to meticulously constructed street wear.
Interbrand defines meta-luxury as
luxury after luxury
Or as Venessa Friedman distilled it down:
focus+artisan-ship+ history+ rarity = meta-luxury
The key attribute here is one of focus. It doesn’t really surprise me when you think about how luxury brands like Armani have grown from tailoring to:
Whilst former football hooligan favourite Burberry gets a lot of kudos for its work using Facebook for brand engagement, I think that there are other fashion and luxury brands doing possibly smarter, and certainly more targeted narrowcast social media work. Here are five of them:
Whilst Louis Vuitton’s adverts make me feel queasy with their odd positioning with the likes of Bono, Mikael Gorbachev and Angelina Jolie with the gaudy holdall woven into awkward-looking photo-shoots, LV have been much smarter in their use of location services; notably Foursquare and Chinese counterpart Jiepang. Louis Vuitton uses it very carefully to curate a Louis Vuitton life and encourage store engagement. Recommendations for London include the Southbank Centre, Connaught Hotel and the Fifth Floor restaurant at Harvey Nichols. This is also likely to filter out all about the most ardent hangers on
Comptoir des Cotonniers (CDC) have a blog with a distinctly homespun look and feel that talks about brand news coverage and the kind of things that influence them. There is a playlist module of saccharin soul on the left-hand side of the page. Even if you can’t use Google Translate to get a feel of what the French language content is about you, can tell by the kind of imagery that accompanies the posts
In a similar vein, Sir Paul Smith has a personal blog that acts as the voice for his fashion brand. It doesn’t give you a sense of their collection but does give a strong sense of who or what Paul Smith the brand actually is. He has a good eye for curating interesting and eclectic imagery and the site feels like it wasn’t pulled together by an intern
At the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of production values is Dunhill; despite the site using Amazon Web Services as a content delivery network this can be a beast to load down anything but the fattest broadband pipe. Their Day 8 section of the site sits somewhere between a magazine and a blog and is stuffed with a range of quality thought-provoking content. Interestingly it hasn’t been updated in the past 80 days. They do publish Day 8 as an iPad application, but it would have been nice if there was an RSS feed for the content, being a busy person I don’t have time to fanny around. If I was the publisher of Esquire magazine I would have a good look at Day 8; as this is what quality men’s interest content feels like
Whilst lots of different fashion houses have used live video to extend the audience of their runway shows (primarily spurred on by trying to crack the massive Chinese market) most of them require you to watch the show from in front of your computer. If you are getting hold of the kind of money it takes to shop with these brands; time in front of your computer is likely to be time wasted. Menswear fashion brand Ermenegildo Zegna put it on an iPhone application so you can follow the show whilst waiting for a flight or traveling to a business meeting in a taxi; if you like what you see you can even buy some of the items in-application. Previously this kind of mobile content | m-commerce integration had only been seen in more mainstream brands like Tokyo Girls Collection. Rather than create their own social content on the Zegna site they have started to have fashion bloggers create their own Zegna looks and ‘guest post’ on the Zegna site. Again no RSS though
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about how Nike and Footlocker maximised revenue from the Jordan franchise through careful timing of limited product releases.
Contrast this with The North Face. Below is a Korean blog post that compares North Face winter coats with different types of high school students as the brand has become so ubiquitous in South Korean school yards and on the backs of consumers during the winter months.
The bottom of the blog post goes on to compare The North Face with the duffle coats worn by previous generation of school children in a mocking way.
it is as much the winter uniform of the Korean salary man as his tie.
The North Face sees itself as a technical brand rather than a true luxury brand, but the vast majority of its jackets don’t see the mountains and ski slopes for which they were originally designed. It has begun to treat itself as a premium brand with its purple label retro designs and different fabrics like Harris Tweed – currently exclusive to the Japanese market. But how can this be maintained if the brand becomes this overexposed?
It is not a corner that it can easily get out of and technical innovation in the clothing design will be of limited use.
Belgian luxury goods brand Delvaux teamed up with designer Bruno Pieters to come up with a slim brief case ideal for a laptop and a small amount of paper work. The bag has a soft leather interior to ensure it doesn’t scratch your laptop or tablet and comes with a zip that opens wide enough to fit in everything without a struggle. The two straps running down the side of the bag function not only as a weight distribution device but also as a retainer for inflight reading like a folded newspaper or doubled up magazine. More information here.
When I read the press release about Audi’s forthcoming A1 Quattro, it was a bit like back to the future. The car goes back to the high performance original Quattro.
The short wheelbase, and white alloys resembling competition Speedline alloys reminded me of the Audi Quattro S1 which was their Group B rally car. And like the Sport Quattro, on which the S1 was based, this will be an extremely limited edition: in this case to 333 cars only.
If I was 14 again, I would have a poster of the A1 Quattro on my bedroom wall. More information here.
Why does someone who spends his working day thinking about the future and all things digital care about a mechanical watch movement? A modern quartz movement watch can be more accurate. An analogue watch has some advantages over a digital display in terms of legibility and the ability to see how much time one has until an appointment, but that can have quartz movement behind it.
I like a mechanical watch movement because:
The movement of a good mechanical watch is an object of beauty in itself. The great watch companies take as much pride in making the insides look as beautiful as the watch exterior. It is rare to see that detail in the design of modern products outside those designed by Apple
You have a lifelong relationship with a mechanical watch. Companies like Rolex will service your watch for you every few years or so and will even refurbish it if necessary. Patek Philippe have used the same strapline in their advertisements for years: You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation. Good quality design is products that you will want to own until you wear them out, or they wear you out. It is also a good way towards creating more environmentally friendly products and I haven’t even got on to challenge of battery disposal…
Finally, I like to be able to know the time all the time. I wear my watch in bed, in the shower, in fact it only comes off if I find it getting in the way typing. Part of this comes from having done scuba diving when I was younger; your watch became part of you. I had a quartz watch and moisture got in stopping the watch dead. A friend had an automatic watch movement in a Seiko which had a little damp in but kept on going. Both of use eventually invested in good quality Swiss watches
IWC’s 59210 is a marvel of the watchmakers art. It holds up to eight days power when fully wound up and runs at 28,800 beats per hour which is a marvel for a mechanical device that small.
The movement goes into the Portofino watches which have a case that is not as technical as the style of watches that I like, but make a nice dress watch if you like that kind of thing.
adidas have posted a video of their Jeremy Scott collection for spring and summer 2012 on YouTube. As is usual with Scott’s work the men’s line isn’t as good as the women’s line and has hackneyed design touches.
Waterproof coat brand Mackintosh have released a really interesting project where they have interviewed a hundred taste-makers about the brand. The focus of this campaign seems to be the Japanese market. Tyler Brûlé kicks it off with a video that talks about the authenticity of the brand its role in the community where it was founded.
Mackintosh by its example shows up other heritage luxury brands, who get their authenticity from their marketing departments and their product lines half-a-world away. Or have global supply chains that ship product or factory workers half-way around the world for token finishing touches in the home country as a fig leave to authenticity.
The video is on YouTube which may not be accessible by all readers.
CIC who provide the IWOM set of tools (think Sysomos, Radian6 or Adobe SocialAnalytics for the mainland Chinese internet eco-system) have come up with an interesting report on online conversations around the Chinese luxury market.
They are motivated to buy luxury goods as a way to ‘show-off’ and most of the online conversations are around this subject
The distribution system is complex with overseas purchasing and purchasing agents (presumably to avoid China’s luxury goods tax and for more choice) also a popular subject. For luxury brands it means that Chinese expansion needs to be tapped by also having presence in places like Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Paris – France and the major cities of the US
Real-time reporting of runway shows initiated by the brands doing webcasts has been extended by netizens to their own platforms. Much of the commentary is similar to the social television interactions you used to see on early video platform Joost; and on Twitter during shows like The Apprentice or The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE)
Counterfeit – there was a significant group that own both counterfeit and authentic versions of a product because it is ‘interesting to mix and match usage between real and fake’. This is a really interesting brand interaction and raises the question: what if authentic isn’t authentic enough in terms of brand experience? This is something that I could see impacting the likes of Louis Vuitton. Gucci, Chanel and Hermes as they become over-exposed in the marketplace
Conspicuous consumption in Hong Kong is nothing terribly surprising if you have visited the territory’s luxury handbag exchanges a la Milan Station; but the South China Morning Post had interesting research about how this had progressed since 1997.
Consumption amongst the affluent has grown steadly through boom and bust; in particular, financial products, luxury watches and televisions.
The degree of China’s dominance as the luxury consumer moving forward
The importance of international stores to Chinese luxury purchases. It doesn’t seem to be just about Chinese tax regimes but is as much experiential. Many Chinese people have a real love of the idea of European cities like Paris and London, these purchases in these markets are part of that experience