Luxury apps fall short

21 February 2013

NEW YORK: More than a quarter of luxury brands that have launched mobile apps subsequently fail to develop and update these tools, new research has revealed.

A report from L2, a think tank for digital innovation, found that 27% of luxury brands had gone to the effort and expense of developing an app but had not then dealt with any subsequent problems, such as fixing bugs, or integrating newer and more efficient technology to ensure compatibility with new devices.

Even simple corrections based on consumer feedback had not been implemented, it discovered.

L2 looked at 238 apps released by 100 brands over the past five years in the sectors of fashion, beauty, hospitality, retail, watches and jewellery, and determined that the average app had been in an app store for 17 months, and was thus "digitally stale".

It concluded that the luxury industry as a whole "hasn't quite figured out how to maximise app performance and utility".

But some sectors were more adept than others. Retail brands, for example, released fewer but better apps, and then updated them regularly with improved functionality.

Similarly, some 89% of brands in the watches & jewellery sector had an iPad-optimised app.

L2 noted this was an area of positive development, with more than half of all new apps launched in the past year being optimised for the iPhone or iPad. But even here there was significant churn, with 94 new apps being introduced on the iOS platform, of which 52 were later withdrawn.

Members of the fashion sector were the most likely to release an app and never update it, as 40% of their apps fell into this category.

And while 58% of American beauty brands' apps were targeted specifically for Asia Pacific markets, 45% had failed to gain a user rating.

The hospitality sector was the busiest, with 45% of hotel operators having developed an app in the past year, often devoting them to a specific property.

Separately, Carol Banks Setter of Band Digital described the app efforts of luxury hoteliers as an "adolescent phase, lacking a mature offering".

Writing in Luxury Daily, she highlighted common errors, including a failure to feature unique differentiations, a lack of user cues, a mobile experience that is not self-contained and a lack of co-ordination between the app and website audiences.

Data sourced from L2/Luxury Daily; additional content by Warc staff