How Ueber-Brands Have Used the Web to Their Advantage
Rethinking Prestige Branding Authors Wolfgang Schaefer and JP Kuehlwein Share Secrets of How Ueber Brands Have Used the Web to Their Advantage
This extract is from Rethinking Prestige Branding: Secrets of the Ueber Brands.
Finally, modern prestige brands have discovered that the ubiquity of the web isn’t the enemy they thought it was, but can actually be their best friend – because it allows them to be all over the place, yet technically still only in one spot. The web gives Ueber-Brands maximum reach without anybody seeing it. It lets them be omnipresent without ever seeming over-extended. Truly ‘growing without showing’, and even at a lower cost.
A highly selective brand like Bumble and Bumble, with its price premium, used to have only the option of distributing through salons and specialized, higher-end beauty stores if they wanted to preserve a level of brand credential. Not anymore. Now a small-town customer can bring a piece of the action and product to her home, without the brand needing to extend physically in ways that were un-economical and would dilute the sense of exclusivity. On top of this, B&B is able to provide her with tips, stories and experiences (albeit virtual) as if she was at their flagship salon in Manhattan, something that even higherend salon partners could hardly replicate. The hair Ueber-Brand gained more reach and more control at the same time. They’ve expanded their world and sharpened it simultaneously, at a fraction of the cost of expanding physically – never mind the saved margins and reduced diversion (www.bumbleandbumble.com).
As we’ve seen in the case of Nespresso Club (p. 165) this stealth way of growing can generate many billions of dollars in sales and category-leading consumption while the perception remains that of a sophisticated prestige brand. Consequently everybody is jumping on the web-wagon. Many go a step further, combining their interest in making money with their need for mythmaking, because our web-wide world has become a global showroom as much as it is a stage – thanks in no small part to shoppable videos:
- Gucci introduces new fashion and accessory collections in the kind of opulent environments you imagine their Ueber-Target to live in – yet only a click away from making it yours (Gucci, accessed January 2015).
- Burberry’s creative director Christopher Bailey talks to consumers on Youku (the Chinese YouTube) about the inspiration for his first perfume – and makes an almost ‘personal sale’ (Burberry Prorsum, accessed January 2015).
- Diane von Fuerstenberg (DVF) celebrates the 40th anniversary of her iconic wrap dress by sending it on a global relay to celebrity friends, who document their experiences and invite us to share the joy of owning a DVF dress – for a bit of money (DVF’s Journey of a Dress,2014).
- ‘Oscar PR girl’s’ hip blog explores the rich history of the venerable brand and its late founder Oscar de la Renta, reporting on his and the brand’s exquisite travel, events and social encounters – again allowing us to witness and ‘buy into’ this rarefied world right then and there (Oscarprgirl, accessed January 2015).
It’s actually amazing that it took the prestige world so long to figure this out, because it doesn’t get much better for Ueber-Brands. They can grow their cake while eating it, so to speak. They never have to worry about dilution as they rake in the profits – unless you of course think about the brand’s presence in the hands or on the bodies of all those internet shoppers. But then you can always use modern technology to rebuild the myth on the go and on every street as Ben & Jerry’s does with an augmented reality mobile app that shows pictures of its home state Vermont on every pint, even when you’re holding it in a supermercado in Cartagena or Krakow (Orsini, 2010).
To learn more secrets of the ueber brands, read Rethinking Prestige Branding.
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