American Marketer


European brands lagging behind US in digital prowess: L2 Think Tank

November 21, 2011


European fashion brands such as Céline, Eres and Brioni are falling to the wayside of U.S. brands when it comes to the digital frontier and consumer engagement, according to findings from a study by L2 Think Tank.

Not a single European brand received a “genius” ranking in this year’s European Niche Fashion Digital IQ Index by L2 Think Tank. The study found that while many brands are entirely missing on the social media front, a majority are also disregarding basic digital techniques such as paid search and email.

“A subset of European brands have made competent yet still undifferentiated forays on digital platforms, while many have largely ignored the digital phenomenon,” said Veronique Valcu, New York-based research lead at L2 Think Tank. “The jump to digital requires a large shift in organizational thinking, structure and process.

“However, taking this risk is becoming an inescapable reality as the majority of their consumers, not to mention their own competitors, are shifting their time, wallets and media consumption towards digital,” she said.

“If brands continue to hesitate developing their digital presence, they run the risk of becoming irrelevant.”

The L2 Think Tank year’s European Niche Fashion Digital IQ Index took into account factors such as Web site, digital marketing, social media and mobile marketing to rank 49 prestigious European fashion brands.

Based on a points system, the ranking titles included genius, gifted, average, challenged and feeble in descending order.

Making moves

Luxury brands such as Agent Provocateur, Stella McCartney, Moncler, Moschino, Lanvin, Emilio Pucci, Jean Paul Gaultier and La Perla fared far better than some of their European counterparts and were ranked in the top 10.

Lingerie brand Agent Provocateur was lauded for its strong, consistently-racy voice across channels and had the strongest mobile presence of any brand examined.

Indeed, video helped boost the brand to the top. Agent Provocateur’s YouTube channel has approximately 1.3 million upload views, which is more than 10 times the average for European niche fashion brands, according to L2 Think Tank.

Coming in third, British label Stella McCartney has the fastest growing Twitter community and was considered to be setting the bar for social media in Europe.

Following close behind was French outerwear brand Moncler. Its recent site relaunch and social media push were the winning factors.

A fashionable Web site and iPad optimization (see story) brought Italian marketer Moschino up to No. 4, while French brand Lanvin’s viral video of models, bloggers and customers dancing helped the label obtain fifth place.

While not as flashy, sixth place’s Italian brand Emilio Pucci was applauded for its strongly commerce-centric Web site and mobile experience.

Coming in ninth, French label Jean Paul Gaultier was celebrated for its Twitter strategy, which includes personal tweets from the namesake designer.

French lingerie label La Perla was the last brand to receive a gifted status and rounded out the top 10, though it was stated that a mobile presence would help boost the brand’s ranking.

“The top branded sites excelled through delivering an interactive, shareable and commerce-oriented experience that facilitated regional customization,” Ms. Valcu said.

Losing the race
Unfortunately, not every luxury brand is on the right track. Céline, Eres, Brioni and Balmain were all ranked in the feeble category.

French fashion house Balmain was scolded for completely ignoring Facebook as a marketing platform, and fellow French label Céline was bashed for not maintaining any social media presence to communicate with consumers.

Meanwhile lingerie brand Eres received 38th place due to its lack of international ecommerce -- the brand’s online store is only available in French.

Italian menswear label Brioni was ranked 42nd and rebuked for its complete disregard for social media and mobile marketing.

Overall, the European brands received much lower point averages than those in the global L2 Think Tank Digital IQ: Fashion Index that was released earlier this Fall (see story).

Within the European study, French and Italian brands were lagging the most when it came to digital competence.

All hope is not lost, though. Luxury brands that wish to increase their online presence can start with a few simple steps, per Ms. Valcu.

“Many of the brands included in this index lost points because they were omitting or avoiding key elements of their digital strategy,” Ms. Valcu said.

“European niche fashion brands should focus on strengthening the core elements of their digital foundation [such as] Web site, social media and email marketing,” she said.

Final Take
Kayla Hutzler, editorial assistant at Luxury Daily, New York