Surina Sayal

Conde; Nast India dialogue: Reaching the affluent Indian online

Various speakers discussed the potential of online and how the platform can be leveraged to target the affluent online audience effectively.

In May 2010, Condé Nast India announced plans to launch digital editions of its titles including Vogue India, GQ India and the then yet-to-be launched Condé Nast Traveller. Since then, the company has been successful in rolling these out. On November 25, Condé Nast India held a conference, titled Condé Nast India Digital Day, in Mumbai, which had various speakers discussing the subject 'Reaching the affluent Indian online'.

Alex Kuruvilla, managing director, Condé Nast India shared an opening address discussing why the Condé Nast India Group is focussing on digital in India, one of the only markets where print is growing. This, he said, was because the group wants to go where its audience is going.

Conde; Nast India dialogue: Reaching the affluent Indian online
With the Internet, smart phones and tablet devices, digital has picked up pace and Condé Nast is present across all three platforms. All three magazines present in India - Vogue India, GQ India and Condé Nast Traveller - have iPad apps and presences on Facebook and Twitter.

"Internationally, Condé Nast has about 15 years of experience in the digital space. and launched a year before MSN did and three years before Google did," shared Kuruvilla.

Kuruvilla handed the discussion over to James Bilefield, president, Condé Nast International Digital, who discussed international digital trends in the luxury segment.

Bilefield showed the audience a picture of a fashion week where, in the front row, Anna Wintour, the American editor of Vogue, was seated next to the editor of the Italian edition of Vogue, Franca Sozzani, while both were busy on their BlackBerry and iPhone, sending out information to their teams right from the venue. "That says a lot about how much digital has grown today," said Bilefield.

"Luxury brands focus a lot on investing in big stores, bigger launches, velvet rope events and much more - but how does a luxury brand do this online?" he quizzed, adding that luxury brands need to be very selective when it comes to online in order to achieve their business goals and reach consumers in the right manner.

In fact, Bernard Arnault, founder, chairperson and chief executive officer, LVMH, the large luxury goods conglomerate that operates Louis Vuitton, wanted LVMH to be the biggest luxury digital brand and it has succeeded in being one of the biggest luxury stores online, with one million friends on Facebook. Some of the other big luxury brands on Facebook include Lacoste, Burberry, Gucci, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, Coach, Armani and Calvin Klein. However, only two-three of these are as big on Twitter.

Conde; Nast India dialogue: Reaching the affluent Indian online
He also shared how brands can measure success in social media. "Measure referral traffic that comes to your website - also important is what sort of content on social media drives traffic to your site. Therefore, one has to determine where to focus the efforts. A third factor is 'key influencers', so friends of a brand that are promoting the brand via word-of-mouth should be gratified - give them gifts, call them into your store for a special exclusive shopping experience," he added.

An example of a luxury brand using digital media successfully is Burberry, which unveiled its 'Retail Theatre' concept. Burberry, in September, broadcast its 2011 summer/spring collection from the London Fashion Week show to 25 flagship stores worldwide, heightening the in-store experience for invited guests, including some of its top clients and buyers. After the show, they were handed iPads from where they could look at all the clothes that they had just seen on the runway and could order it right then and there.

Jordan Khoo, regional director, APAC, MediaMind Technologies discussed digital innovations and shared case studies of luxury brands.

He started off by saying, "Many brands tend to build big cool websites but don't know how to drive traffic there. When you build a large store for Porsche in the middle of the desert, people will still come but the Internet is not like that. You have to reach people where they are - out in social media."

Also, when it comes to measurement, he urges advertisers to measure the right thing, not everything. Audiences spend 30 per cent of their time on digital but the marketing spends on it are less than 5 per cent - this is uneven. When MediaMind researched this, it found that the biggest barrier for brands, 52 per cent of all the companies researched, was stated as "insufficient metrics".

"10 years ago, while digital was only measured by clicks and click-through rates, today this is insufficient. There are many different ways to measure audience engagement and much more," said Khoo.

"For example, if a person is surfing the GQ site, the content is so sticky that he may not want to go to another page via your ad - therefore, you have to engage with him right there. Thus, the click through rate may not be high, but he has still engaged with your ad and absorbed the message," he explained.

Conde; Nast India dialogue: Reaching the affluent Indian online
He shared that a brand should decide on a metric depending on a campaign objective. For example, a Mercedes Benz car ad may allow interaction where a person could view different angles and details of the car. From here, he has gathered a lot of information about the car and therefore, may not be tempted to click on it and actually go to the car brand's site. On the other hand, a person may need to click on an ad for an airline like Qantas to find out about fares and bookings.

That is where 'Dwell Time' comes in. Dwell Time, which has come into existence only in the past six-nine months, is turning out to be a good metric that allows companies to see for how many seconds a user engages with an ad, depending on the movement and placement of the cursor on the ad.

Khoo also shared a very interesting interactive digital campaign by Volkswagen, where it associated with Twitter. The campaign was for its range of cars. Here, a person could key in his Twitter name and it would run a search on the Twitter account to see what kind of subjects he/she has tweeted about and in turn, display the car that it thinks would suit him/her the most.

Maya Hari, director, digital, Condé Nast India shed light on digital trends and strategies. Sharing what makes digital tick, she said that the key factors were immediacy, interactivity and ubiquitous access.

Hari went on to share examples of how big brands smartly leveraged the digital medium.

Fashion brand FCUK launched 'YouTique', its YouTube channel featuring a series of stylist videos giving users expert advice on such topics as 'How to look cool on Casual Friday' and 'How to sparkle at a wedding', using items and accessories from the retailer's latest collection.

Another great idea was by top brand Coach, maker of luxury lifestyle handbags and accessories, which launched the 'Poppy Project' where people could install the widget on their blogs. The user whose readers had most interaction with the poppies won a grand prize - and if they spotted a Coach bag, then they received a gift.

Hari also suggested that brands should ask themselves 'What's my DQ or digital quotient?'. This can be answered with subsequent questions like, 'Do you have a website?', 'Are you digitally marketing?', 'Are you present on social media?' and lastly, 'What is your mobile strategy?'.

Taking off from mobile, Annie Matthew, head of alliances, India, Research In Motion (RIM), the parent company of BlackBerry, went on to share some mobile trends.

Matthew said that BlackBerry has 46 million subscribers globally. It is the 14th most valuable brand in the world, as per an October 2010 study by Milward Brown.

About 22 per cent of its business comes from outside the US and this figure is growing rapidly. "While the brand was launched in 1999 and recently, in May, shipped its 100 millionth device, half of this figure was sold in the last one and a half years - that was the growth curve," said Matthew.

Till some years ago, BlackBerry's users were more skewed towards men than women, with a 70:30 ratio, while today this has changed to 52 per cent male and 48 per cent female users.

She also shared that BlackBerry Playbook will be launched in the first quarter of 2011 in the US, followed by the launch in India in March or April.

Discussing BBM or BlackBerry Messenger service, she said that people are forming groups - such as housewives and CEOs of Chennai who enjoy golf, among others, but are not using this to share recipes or discuss work. In fact, they are using the social platform of BBM to lighten the day and their moods.

Sharing an example of a BlackBerry campaign carried out in Asia, she said, "Indonesia is BlackBerry crazy, where most people own two-three BlackBerrys each." Here, a BMW campaign was carried out on BlackBerry, where a BMW theme was sent to 5,000 men in the age group of 35-55 years. They could use the theme and they also received a notification for a test drive. The sales target via this campaign was 30. However, 98 per cent of the target group signed up for the test drive and 50 per cent purchased the car - that is 2,450 purchases of the car!

A panel discussion on the impact of social media and e-commerce on the luxury industry in India was also held. The panel consisted of speakers Dinesh Dayal, chief operating officer, L'Oreal India; Hari Krishnan, country head, LinkedIn India; Radha Chadha, author, 'The cult of the luxury brand'; and Bilefield of Condé Nast, while it was moderated by Anant Rangaswami, editor, Campaign India.

The panel discussed how digital is still new to India compared to other countries, and so are luxury brands and their usage. Therefore, the two are growing up together. There will have to be brave experimentation but there are also a lot of great opportunities.

Chadha opined that not only will brands have to set aside a digital budget, they will, in fact, have to create their own 'digital identity', which will be inevitable.

Krishna said that consumers are already discussing brands online via social media, whether a brand wants to pull up a chair to that table or not is a decision it has to make.

Discussing e-commerce, Krishna said that while credit card transactions are safer on the Internet than in restaurants or petrol pumps, it isn't like consumers aren't open to transacting online. "There already are consumers wanting to buy online, but it is the payment options that act as a glitch. That is the crux, payment, where consumers are just hesitant about 'how to'," he said.

Bilefield made a prediction that in India, too, e-commerce stores for luxury brands will become the biggest stores for those brands following international trends taking place the world over.

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