Platforms like Gowalla, Foursquare, Booyah, Loopt, and Whrrl, or their French counterpart Dismoiou, that mix location, real-time and social characteristics focus less on conversations and more on creating a new and valuable location-based products. The key challenge for brands is to find ways to use these services to, not only engage customers, but also enhance their overall experience.
Big brands have been using these applications to drive customers to stores by offering free items or discounts as a reward for multiple check-ins. Although Oscar de la Renta (Foursquare), Cynthia Rowley (Foursquare) and Betsey Johnson (Facebook Places) have run similar campaigns, this type of mass-market move does not add value to customer perceptions of a luxury brand.
So the question arises, how can luxury brands ‘check-in?’ Here we suggest 5 possible ways:
1. Build brand personality
Luxury brands and the designers at their helm are often considered to be culture experts and taste makers. Offering recommendations, tips and to-do lists, or a curated list of favorite cafes, restaurants, or bars near a specific location can convey this unique personality in an engaging way.
Marc Jacobs was one of the first luxury fashion brands to create a branded experience on Foursquare, offering users an opportunity to explore cities with recommendations from the brand, unlock a Marc Jacobs badge, and read tips and reviews from other users.
Perhaps we could also experience Stefano Gabbana’s Milan or Paris according to Chanel?
2. Promote special events
Brands can announce special events at their bricks-and-mortar locations. Louis Vuitton promoted its store launch in London recently by incorporating branded tips on what to do in London created by LV staff – in line with the brand’s City Guides sold in LV boutiques and online. For example,
“Stroll London. Shop at Louis Vuitton. Visit new exhibitions and try on new shoes. Stop for a cappuccino break. Talk about the next fashion show with your friends and learn about London’s cultural activities. It’s all waiting for you when you befriend the new Louis Vuitton Maison.”
Similarly, brands can create a buzz for sales events and drive additional customers in-store during these periods.
3. Promote accessible product lines:
Most luxury brands offer entry price point lines enabling customers to experience the brand without having to spend a fortune.
The Jimmy Choo @CatchAChoo campaign generated buzz for the launch of a new line of sneakers. The brand organized a real-time scavenger hunt around London via Foursquare. Followers could see where the sneakers had checked-in and if they managed to get to the venue in time they would win the Choos. Sales of sneakers in-store reportedly increased by 33%.
A similar geo-location tactic could be used to promote Hermes’ J’Aime Mon Carré campaign in a fun and engaging way.
4. Extend the reach of your service:
The Four Seasons luxury hotel brand took their concierge service beyond the four walls of the hotel with the launch of a service called “Best of California”. In partnership with Gowalla the hotel offers their guests concierge recommendations while traveling around the state, while also allowing them to earn hotel credits.
5. Integrate check-ins with customer loyalty programs:
Add another dimension to your loyalty programs by activating a check-in each time a purchase is made. This can allow you to offer customers extra rewards for geo-location check-ins that are communicated to their social graph, creating the connection between customers’ social media behavior and their in-store behavior.
A key value offered by geo-location applications is a new opportunity to build relationships and better understand customers. A brand can learn a lot about its customers by reading tips, listening to feedback, and identifying where they like to go. If a user must check into a location manually, they’re either doing so for convenience (e.g. to locate friends or offers nearby) or as self-expression. The latter provides an interesting opportunity for a brand to engage, increase preference and build a loyal high-quality relationship.