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Sephora is most competent in mobile among prestige brands: study

January 12, 2012

Sephora's mobile strategy includes an iPad app

Sephora leads in mobile competence on a new ranking from digital innovation think tank L2 of 100 prestige brands.

Brands across several industries were reviewed and measured based on their mobile Web sites, mobile apps, mobile marketing as well as innovation and integration. Retail brands dominate the top portion of the list, with half of the brands classified as either Gifted or Genius being retailers.

“Retail brands were among the earliest investors in mobile apps and sites,” said Jon Weinberg, associate consultant at L2, New York.

“Unlike other prestige brands, retail brands’ efforts across mobile platforms are more comprehensive and less siloed, appearing on as many platforms as possible with their mobile sites, mobile apps, mobile marketing, and cross-platform mobile promotion all complementing one another,” he said.

“The best example of this type of superior performance comes from the Index leader, Sephora, which seems to have invested equally across its site, apps, and mobile marketing.”

Mobile integration
Brands were picked from five industries: beauty and skincare, fashion, hospitality, retail as well as watches and jewelry. They were ranked and assigned a classification of either Genius, meaning mobile is integrated across a wide footprint; Gifted, indicating mobile is implemented more narrowly; Average, reflecting a siloed, inconsistent mobile strategy; Challenged, meaning the investment in mobile is limited, and Feeble, meaning the investment does not match the opportunity.

The top ten ranked brands in terms of mobile competence are Sephora, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Net-a-Porter, Bloomingdale’s, L’Occitane en Provence, Tiffany & Co., Neiman Marcus, Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts and Estee Lauder.

Overall, the results reveal significant, widespread underinvestment in mobile, with 44 percent of the brands designated as Feeble.

The brands at the bottom of the list include Balenciaga, Oscar de la Renta, Baccarat, Movado and Patek Philippe.

“The big news for brands is that since mobile sales are predicted to quintuple over the next five years – at a CAGR of 39 percent YoY – and since prestige brands in particular over-index on mobile search – now is the time to allocate resources to developing robust, commerce-enabled mobile properties and mobile-optimized marketing tactics,” Mr. Weinberg said.

“Those brands that fail to create and maintain a comprehensive mobile presence do so at their own peril, sacrificing their potential to reach millions of new customers at home and abroad,” he said.

Mobile a crystal ball
Other findings include that 70 percent of prestige brands have a mobile app, 66 percent a mobile site, 52 percent have both and 16 percent have neither.

Additionally, the report found that fewer than 20 percent of brands have created unique app content for the iPad and other tablets. With tablets registering high usage among affluent consumers, this is a missed opportunity for these brands.

“Brands should not hesitate to allocate resources towards the world’s fastest growing digital platform,” Mr. Weinberg said.

“Mobile competence may be a crystal ball not just for future domestic sales, but for a brand’s global prospects as well. Ground zero for growth in prestige exists in emerging markets among a burgeoning middle class who are increasingly turning to a small screen to learn about and ultimately purchase prestige brands’ products.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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