December 2, 2010
Lancome and Aveda are the high-end beauty brands with the strongest digital marketing strategies thanks in large part to their focus on social media and video, according to a report by L2 Think Tank.
The brands were at the top of the class because their Web sites are interactive and user friendly, and they have a strong YouTube and Facebook following. They also put a lot of effort into marketing through email and have a prominent presence in the mobile market.
“Luxury brands can’t get customers the ways that they used to anymore,” said Maureen Mullen, Director of Research and Advisory Services at L2 Think Tank, New York. “The rise of media networks like Facebook spurred innovations and forced brands to get creative about marketing.”
“Brands have almost been engaged in an arms race in trying to earn media recognition and increasing likes on Facebook.”
L2's Digital IQ scores were based 40 percent on the brand's Web site, 30 percent on other effort in online marketing, 20 percent on presence and prominence in social media and 10 percent on mobile performance.
Inside of a site
Twenty-five percent of a brand's Web site score is based on brand translation elements and the other 75 percent reflects user interface, technology incorporation and transaction orientation.
The second highest luxury brand on the list, Aveda, was rated fourth overall and scored points for its Web site. The highly interactive site offers live chat and many beauty advisory features.
On the contrary, Christian Dior's site was completely shut down in anticipation of a relaunch and scored much lower.
"Most sites are innovating in increments every two to three years," Ms. Mullen said. "They are trying to make sure that they are up to par with the newest technology."
Digital marketing specifics
The second category monitored email, traffic, search options, presence on blogs and display and integration.
The highest-ranking luxury brand, Lancome, was considered one of the top email marketers. The brand sent out an average of 3.8 emails a week. Aveda also maintains a strong email presence.
Creative social marketing
Another aspect of the study was social media, which includes activity on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The biggest surprise was the role that Facebook has in promoting a brand. In Ms. Mullen’s opinion, it’s among the best marketing platforms.
“It was a tremendous pickup from just a year ago,” Ms. Mullen said. “Facebook is going to be the de facto aspect and if brands don’t have a page, they’re going to be left behind.”
Fifty percent of brands put down the social networking site as one of their top 8 sources of traffic last year. The number jumped to 73 percent of brands this year.
Furthermore, the amount of traffic on a brand’s Web site generated through Facebook traffic grew from 3.5 percent last year to 7.3 percent in the past 12 months.
Brands such as La Mer that ranked among the lowest do not have Facebook pages.
Another huge social media tool is YouTube. Lancome has received more than 3 million views on several videos with makeup tips from brand ambassador, Michelle Phan.
Michelle Phan's makeup tutorial for Lancome has reached 3.8 million views
L'Oreal Paris' "Destination Beauty" YouTube channel offers tips from gurus using both L'Oreal Paris and other brands. One video featuring Beyonce ranked eighth out of the ten most popular YouTube videos for brands in this study.
The mobile role
Another digital market with a promising future is the mobile world.
“Mobile is only going to increase in marketing luxury brands, and it’s only wise to invest in that strategy if a brand is going to succeed,” Ms. Mullen said.
L2's study highlighted luxury brands Lancome and Estee Lauder and commended them on their vibrant, easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing mobile sites.
Ms. Mullen also added that most of the mobile sites are iPhone or iPad applications, and that there are not a lot of mcommerce sites.
"Mobile has the ability to be the highest marketer, even higher than the Internet," Ms. Mullen said. "It's small now but has amazing potential to grow."
Ms. Mullen said that there is no sure indicator which digital marketing strategy is the most effective because each brand can use different channels to its own advantage. Most brands that scored the highest did so because they did well in all of the sections of social media.
"Brands need to find its target audience and then use digital marketing to figure out how to best connect with it."
Rachel Lamb, editorial assistant at Luxury Daily, New York