In a previous article we covered the background, agenda and overall experience of Firenze4Ever, a twice annual event hosted by the Italian retailer, Luisa via Roma. Today, we turn our focus to analyzing the business-side of the event. Let’s assess:
To start, Firenze4Ever is attended by roughly 35 international bloggers. For some, costs including travel and accommodation are covered, while others foot the bill themselves.
Lost revenue has to be factored into the overall costs, as the store is closed for business for three full days (over a weekend, no less). However, the retailer’s ecommerce remains open, and bloggers are able to implement an affiliate model if they choose, making their posts shoppable and earning money based on directly resulting sales (a benefit to all parties).
Sponsors are brought on board. This year KARL by Karl Lagerfeld, Mercedes, Makeup Forever, and Aveda were amongst this year’s sponsors.
Then there are the upfront costs of the event, including staffing, hiring photographers and models, all day bartenders and buffet style gourmet food at the store, concert tickets for Madonna, and the full elaborate meal for nearly 300, just to name a few. While nearly the entire staff at Luisa via Roma works on the event, the time of at least five full-time staffers is spent specifically on Firenze4Ever. And with each biannual installment taking 4-6 months to orchestrate, there is always a Firenze4Ever to plan.
While the actual costs are not disclosed by the store, this is an extravagant and costly event, so it must come with a high upside. For Luisa via Roma, brand exposure is the main objective. Here are a few of the many reasons that this event is successful:
Upside for Bloggers:
-As the number of bloggers is relatively small, there is a certain exclusivity to attending and being amongst peers.
-Due to the highly social nature of the event (dinners, concerts, etc.) you don’t only meet peers, you establish friendships with them, extending the event a certain fondness amongst those who have attended in the past.
-Bloggers get high-quality content and are completely free to post at their own discretion.
-Bloggers are provided the ability to be stylists and build their portfolio by working with the newest merchandise, as well as professional hair, makeup and photography talent.
Upside for the brand:
-Luisa via Roma becomes more widely and internationally recognized though they are independent and small, with just one singular retail outpost.
-Luisa via Roma gains exposure to international audiences they wouldn’t otherwise have access to and can benefit from through their ecommerce site. For example, this year’s bloggers included many from Australia and Asia.
-Traditional PR and advertising are replaced with a more exclusive, authentic and notable form of outreach through the event and the cache it brings.
-The event allows Luisa via Roma to build relationships with relevant brands through sponsorship collaboration. For example, this year the KARL by Karl Lagerfeld collection was a focus through sponsorship, and the store now has the exclusive on the label’s menswear collection for the first season.
In short, this event strikes a powerful balance between fulfilling (and often exceeding) needs and expectations of the bloggers with the business’ objectives. The fact that the event is orchestrated in such a way that the brand and the bloggers can mutually benefit while remaining authentic is key to why it is gaining international notoriety and currently planning for it’s next, 6th edition in January of 2013.
The full list of attending bloggers, June 2012 can be found here.