This is a question we’ve asked ourselves many times as we’ve dabbled with drag and drop templates and a host of website builders. The answer is, like Shopify, they have their place. However, for brands whose reputations rely on creativity and exclusivity there is no substitute for a bespoke website with a unique user experience.
Lockdown has accelerated the inexorable rise of digital direct to the consumer (DTC), with home delivery and click and collect now a table stakes expectation for every brand, from supermarkets to fashion and luxury. But it isn’t social media that’s driving these revenues, it’s good old websites and apps, with Bain reporting e-commerce doubling its share of personal luxury goods in 2020 and forecasting more than 30% of all luxury sales will be online by 2025.
Is social media working for luxury brands?
Meanwhile, social media, especially for luxury brands, has disappointed. Forbes reported a recent survey of 500 luxury brand executives with only 30% saying Instagram was “very effective” and it was steeply downhill into single figures from there for the other platforms. Overall, relentless social media has overpromised and significantly underperformed expectations. This may or may not be the reason behind Bottega Veneta’s abrupt decision in January to take a sabbatical - or was it a divorce? – from social media. Will others follow?
Instead of bloating the social media budget, to overcommunicate with largely shallow messages, we think luxury brands should invest more in their websites to create unique, elegantly immersive digital experiences, where every single detail is crafted as well as their physical products. After all, the data shows that this is where interest is converted into profit.
In the shallow social media-driven marketplace, where everyone is saying similar things in templated formats that dilute individuality, it will be those brands that focus on turning their creativity into digital substance that will stand out, particularly if they deliver a frictionless website shopping experience.
Bespoke websites for luxury travel brands
We see this applying equally to pandemic-hit luxury travel brands, whose product is entirely digital until you arrive at the destination, hopefully, to take home a lasting memory.
It's a true test of individuality to cover the brand mark on the top navigation bar, and see if you can tell the difference between one 5-star hotel brand annd another. Many look as if they are using templates from Wix with images and videos that could be from any exotic resort, yet the room rates start at $1000 per night. Where's the extra finesse, the brand personality, the sense that this website is engineered like a swiss watch?
You will only achieve this level of user engagement with a bespoke website design.
Timeless quality is the key
If Professor Maria Eugenia Girón, head of the Luxury Brand Management Executive Management Programme at IE Business School in Madrid, is right and “the real meaning of luxury is a product made to last forever”, then luxury brands should be allocating much more effort and investment in their websites, to create unique brand experiences with a sense of permanence; websites that reflect the innate, timeless quality of a product made to last forever. Or a travel experience which will deliver a lasting memory.
Nucleus founder and CEO