Sephora, Macy's get mobile

16 January 2012

NEW YORK: Sephora, Nordstrom and Macy's are among the luxury brands making the most effective use of mobile to engage consumers, a study has found.

L2, the specialist think tank, assessed the activities of 100 "prestige" operators on this channel, covering their mobile sites and marketing, deployment of apps and overall innovation.

Sephora, the beauty retailer in LVMH's portfolio, headed the charts on 164 points, and was in a "class of its own", aided by a mobile site hosting "how-to" videos, a GPS-based store finder, order tracking and exclusive offers.

Its iPhone app added a "virtual hand" tool so users can adjust skin tones and test nail polish. The iPad equivalent also utilised the device's camera to create a digital mirror that can be seen on a split screen with instruction videos for putting on make-up.

Nordstrom, another retailer, was second on 156 points, not least thanks to a mobile app providing barcode scanning and in-store pick-up options, a calendar of events and a "style profile" section containing hints and tips.

Macy's, the department store chain, claimed third on 155 points, after exploiting a range of formats, from SMS and apps to QR Codes.

Net-a-Porter, the online fashion group, came next on 143 points, having leveraged apps to run localised promotions, offered store exclusives via mobile and pursued an extremely integrated approach.

The top four were the only brands fitting L2's "genius" criteria, meaning their use of mobile had substantively distinguished them from rivals.

A further ten players were "gifted", or moving in the same direction. Bloomingdale's, the high-end department store, led this cohort on 135 points, while L'Occitane and Tiffany & Co logged 133 points.

However, a total of 44 operators were seen as being "feeble", having under-invested in mobile to date, and therefore benefited from few of the potential opportunities.

At the holding company level, Estée Lauder's seven featured assets posted an average of 87 points, standing at 66 points for LVMH's nine brands and 63 points for Richemont's ten premium lines.

"Mobile competence may be a crystal ball for a brand's global prospects. Ground zero for growth in prestige exists among consumers who are increasingly turning to a small screen to learn about, and ultimately consummate, purchases from prestige brands," said Scott Galloway, L2's founder.

Data sourced from L2; additional content by Warc staff