Luxury brands are realizing, slowly but surely, the strategic importance of the web world for their business. Initially they were rather reluctant to accept the net as a medium appropriate for them. But the evolving technology and changes in the way people prefer to communicate today has made them change their opinion. Earlier they felt that they should advertise only in magazines like Vogue, Esquire and Architectural Digest and were eager to get mentioned in the editorial pages as well. But the communication strategies are changing now. Even companies like Richemont are reaching out directly to consumers.
In a major strategic move, Richemont acquired control of Net-A-Porter, the ten year old online luxury fashion retailer founded by the British magazine editor Natalie Massenet for over half a billion dollars, making it one of the most expensive purchases of a consumer publisher. Today it is the largest fashion portal featuring products from 3,000 high end designers and has four million visitors a month. It has proved that the digital format is the future both for fashion as well as publishing and the brands are realizing this. Burberry live-streamed its menswear show from Milan allowing the viewer to click and buy anything he liked.
The luxury brand LVMH has a Web site called Nowness that features all manner of daily specials. The Gilt Groupe is now adding editorial elements every day and watching visitors spend more and more time there. Thrillist sends out e-mails to subscribers with a curated list of local entertainment and retail options. One Kings Lane, an e-commerce company that sells designer home décor and furnishings, just acquired Helicopter, the hotshot design firm that does work for mainstream publishers like The Wall Street Journal, Hachette, Time Inc. and Hearst. Brands, especially those centered on lifestyle interests or luxury, are increasingly becoming media companies and content is being fused with commerce and fashion.