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Neiman Marcus bolsters Christmas catalog via mobile touch points

October 10, 2012


Retailer Neiman Marcus is letting consumers interact with its 2012 Christmas Book through a mobile application that reads digital watermarks on the fantasy gifts pages and reveals additional content.

Holiday catalogs from luxury retailers are one form of print marketing that is not likely to disappear in favor of digital efforts. Therefore, retailers that link to mobile content through the print medium could keep young, savvy consumers engaged on a traditional marketing channel.

"Neiman Marcus' effort recognizes that luxury buyers have mobile devices and expect an emotive and immersive experience whether they are in-store or just reading print," said Scott Delea, managing partner at Inflexion Interactive, Hoboken, NJ.

"Customers still enjoy browsing a catalog, but now have a way to access additional content that makes the products come alive in video," he said. "Luxury shoppers who use an iPad tend to spend more, so it makes sense to provide apps and content to appeal to these customers."

Mr. Delea is not affiliated with Neiman Marcus, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Neiman Marcus did not respond before press deadline.

Digimarc created the digital watermarks for the retailer.

No holiday from mobile

Neiman Marcus is asking consumers to download the NM Action app to view additional content related to its fantasy gifts. The app is available for free for the iPhone and iPad in the App Store.

Towards the beginning of the Christmas Book, the retailer shows its butterfly-shaped QR code mark and explains that wherever it is featured, consumers can access more content via the app.

The NM Action app uses the device’s camera to take an image of a fantasy gift page. The image instantly comes to life through video or offers additional information, per the retailer.

Meanwhile, the digital flip book version of the catalog contains the butterfly-shaped marks, but instead of using the app, consumers can simply click on the icon to view additional content.

For instance, the page featuring a $30,000 walk-on role in "Annie: The Musical" connects to a video that shows interviews with the show’s stars.

Catalog page

Also, the page showing the $99,500 JetLev R200 links to a demonstration video of the water-propelled jet pack.

Catalog page 

Make way for watermarks

Digital watermarks are an alternative to QR codes that luxury marketers can use to link to digital content.

While digital watermarks can maintain the aesthetics of print materials, marketers need to be sure that consumers are aware of the mobile connectivity.

Neiman Marcus is not the only marketer using this technology to enhance print materials.

For example, Fairchild Fashion Media’s Footwear News released a special print and digital issue with watermarked pages where consumers can watch exclusive videos from brands such as Jimmy Choo, Brian Atwood and Christian Dior.

Consumers must scan the pages that are marked with the app symbol to see the models in the ads come to life (see story).

In addition, marketers including Alexander McQueen, Fendi, Rebecca Taylor and Furla took advantage of watermarked print ads that encouraged mobile commerce in Condé Nast’s W magazine Trends supplement .

When consumers downloaded the Digimarc app, they could look on each page to see which items they can scan (see story).

Also, marketers including De Beers, Waterford and Clarisonic used watermarked print ads in the May issue of Brides magazine to allow brides-to-be access to mobile-optimized content and the opportunity to participate in a contest based on the title’s re-launch.

Normally, readers can reach mobile ad content by scanning these pages with the Digimarc app. In this case, the We Love It app contained the ability to scan the watermarks (see story).

"Nothing sells like a video," Mr. Delea said. "Neiman Marcus has created some great videos to bring its 2012 fantasy gifts to life.

"This effort attempts to provide Neiman Marcus customers who own an iPhone or iPad with the ability to experience the product in a way that only video and great story-telling can do in the palm of their hand."

Final Take
Tricia Carr, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York