How to transform a “dusty” old-fashioned luxury brand into a pioneer of the digital world?
There are not many things that could be considered more cult than the trench; the British fashion house’s trademark coat with the characteristic tartan pattern. For most people, Burberry is the ultimate synonym to tradition and heritage. However, since 2009, with the guidance of its former CEO Angela Ahrendts who has now –not surprisingly- moved to Apple as retail chief, the luxury brand has managed to walk and not fall from the runway towards the digital kingdom. Burberry, through its innovative, as far as luxury brands is concerned, approach has managed to relate to the younger generation.
The first step was the realization that brand owners apart from just offering value, they co-create value with inputs and influence from customers and other parties to achieve value sought in terms of exclusivity, recognition, access to privileged information and prestige (Tynan, McKechnie and Chhuon, 2010). But how did Burberry manage to do it a reality? Mainly, by taking advantage of the opportunities that the online marketing offers. With their most popular item, the now iconic, trench coat as the central point and the brand’s website as the vehicle, Burberry applied two well-known techniques; mass-customization and crowdsourcing.
Art of The Trench
As a shopper myself, I have to admit that most people like to show off, especially the luxury brand devoted fans. Burberry decided to benefit from that consumer attitude by introducing the Art of the Trench, a website (http://artofthetrench.com/); now also in Tueblr (http://burberry.tumblr.com/) , where there are photos from everyday people wearing different variations of the Burberry trench coats. Both professional photographers and the trench coat owners can submit their photos. The best photos are uploaded and visitors of the website, after having created a profile through their Facebook account, can comment on a photo, “like” it or share it. Through this platform, an online community, with the trench coat as the central focus, was created. By exploiting the inner yearning of many luxury shoppers to exhibit their style and by engaging them to these activities, Burberry has managed to spread awareness for the brand and its products.
In a rare move for a luxury fashion house, Burberry was one of the first designer brands that gave the chance to the online shoppers to design their own trench coats in an attempt at “mass-customization”. The visitor can customize the trench coat by selecting within a variety of styles, fabrics, buttons, colors etc. which results to a huge variety of options and possible outcomes. Undoubtedly, Burberry’s main aim is to increase customer satisfaction as it can deliver a product which is precisely what the customer dreams.
Indeed, Burberry has been developed to a “guru” of the online customer engaging activities for designer fashion houses and it seems that more are to come in the future. However, someone may wonder when it comes to a luxury brand; how much is too much?
Tynan, C., McKechnie, S., and Chhuon, C., (2010). Co-creating value for luxury brands, Journal of Business Research, 63, 1156–1163