Establishing an Online / Offline Connection

Nov 17, 2010

Elizabeth Canon

It would seem that the internet expands its reach on an almost daily basis. The online platform has become so influential that it presents a tremendous opportunity to brands; so much so that many now have digital marketing directors and departments tasked with determining the best ways to position the brand to a global and seemingly infinite base of potential customers. In a world that’s becoming increasingly digital, it’s even more important to establish offline connections with customers and potential customers.

As customers, we can now do so much online. We can browse through engines like ShopStyle, shop via ecommerce, style through sites like Polyvore, try on through technologies like Holition, and attend runway shows (Burberry, Gucci, MaxMara) all from our internet-enabled devices. Buyers can merchandise online using platforms like Mona Lisa Style, and now Pitti Immagine has released the ability to attend a tradeshow online with the e-Pitti platform.

While we at Fashion’s Collective are normally discussing how marketers should translate to online, today it feels equally important to discuss how to translate from online to offline.

Given that the American Express Publishing study has cited that the majority of luxury customers use the internet as a portal for browsing and research, it’s increasingly likely that a customer’s initial experience will start online. Though potential customers can become actual, and even repeat, customers online, fashion and luxury marketers need to understand that despite the internet (and in some cases because of it), customers may continue their search for products offline, wanting the tactile experience of knowing a product or brand before and after purchasing.

When that experience starts with online, it’s critical that the brand image be clearly communicated, the user be acknowledged, and have his or her interest piqued. This is achieved through top quality design, usability, functionality and content. However, when this carries through to offline, having a strong sense of synergy will help to reaffirm the brand and establish more meaningful connections. Now, it’s all about the customer’s choice in where they would like to experience the brand or product. Whatever choice they make, be it online, offline, or both, their experience on one platform should be enhanced and supplemented by the other.

Brands can do this by inserting offline components to online campaigns, as previously covered in the Catch a Choo campaign by Jimmy Choo, the Culture Club blog initiative by Club Monaco, and the Swarovski 22 Ways to Say Black event.

Alternately, brands can ensure that relevant campaigns have several touch points, all working in conjunction to convey a singular message. Interactive in-store elements, like Diesel’s fitting room kiosk that allowed customers to try on clothes and immediately post pictures of themselves to Facebook, getting instant feedback from their friends that potentially influenced purchase, or MaxMara stores recent in-store contest surrounding their iPhone Cube application, all help to connect online with offline.

It all comes down to structuring internal communications to ensure brand initiatives are executed on various levels and that teams, from the in-store staff to the corporate marketers, are involved in brand activations.

Photo Credits: Carol and Miker Werner

All articles are reviewed and edited by Gina Conforti