Unique goods, unique domain name

February 28, 2018

The way consumers shop is evolving, yet luxury brands remain one of the retail industries most hesitant about embracing the digital revolution. Analysts speak of the lingering myth that consumers will buy low- and medium-priced items online, but only purchase their high-end goods in person.

Perhaps it once was true, but times are changing. The success of websites such as Net-a-Porter selling luxury items is proof that people will happily spend larger sums online. More importantly, the online world has a quantifiable influence on whether a customer will make a purchase at all: 2014 McKinsey found that 45% of luxury purchases are influenced by the digital experience. For luxury brands, the internet presents another opportunity to communicate with customers, establish engagement with the brand and lay a clear path to purchase through whatever medium suits the buyer.

Brands have long been embracing digital marketing, whether through strategies for mobile engagement or smarter use of social media channels. For example, back in 2009, Burberry created a social media campaign around ‘The Art of the Trench’, encouraging users to submit pictures of themselves in Burberry trench coats for publication on a stand-alone site. The images could then be shared on social media or via email.

Within a year of the campaign launching, Burberry’s Facebook followers had grown to over one million and ecommerce sales were up by 50%. Brands have long shown proficiency in leveraging digital marketing creatively to drive engagement and sales – what can a brand do now to stand out online?

Online autonomy

Personalised domain names are a fairly new phenomenon, only becoming available for the first time in 2012 when applications for new generic top level domains (gTLDs) were opened by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Around 560 brands were successful in applying for their unique domain, with the list including banks such as Barclays and tech titans Google, as well as luxury car makers like Lamborghini and Bentley.

For the luxury goods market, a personalised domain name offers a rare and interesting opportunity to further develop the online space. A branded domain helps improve security of the site and can also grow consumer trust amid the rise of scammers – there can be no imitations with such a unique domain. Beyond the security element, brands will welcome the opportunity to explore new marketing and consumer engagement campaigns by using their branded domain names in creative ways.

At Chanel, the .chanel domain name is being used successfully in their campaign to build the mystique of founder Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. A website www.inside.chanel was established in 2013 and contains various animated videos to tell the life story of the eponymous designer. The domain was promoted in campaigns and provides a springboard for those considering making a purchase.

At Gucci, the main corporate site remains on a .com but new pages are gradually being migrated to the .gucci domain. This includes www.diventafornitore.gucci, a site offering advice for potential new suppliers. Work is also currently being done on www.customercare.gucci to offer customers ‘a new exciting and exclusive Gucci experience’ following their purchase. These additional ‘extras’ are a generous way of rewarding a customer for their investment in the brand and add supplementary value to the exchange, tempting return purchasers.

Not always smooth sailing

A different approach to branded domains was taken by L’Oréal, who eschewed .loreal for gTLDs that denote the brands within the company, such as .lancome and .maybelline. They also registered words associated with their industry, such as .beauty and .makeup. This facilitates spin-off projects, such as the site welove.makeup where social media influencers share their thoughts in videos. However, L’Oréal faced pressure from ICANN to make these generic, unbranded words publicly available. The .makeup domains are now being sold for over US$5,000.

For the unlucky few, a branded domain name is impossible to secure, as Coach discovered in the last round of applications. The word ‘coach’ was considered too generic to be given to a brand and was snapped up instead by registrar Donuts, who now markets these domains to coaching services.

Exclusivity is the watchword for luxury goods, so it’s easy to see why luxury brands are attracted to the concept of an exclusive piece of online real estate. If backed up by a creative and innovative digital marketing strategy and customer re-education campaign, a branded domain could help luxury brands reach further, boost sales and thwart imposters in the digital space. Complacency is no longer an option; the digital revolution must be embraced.

The next window for new applications to ICANN is expected to be in 2020. To learn more about getting a branded domain, visit our website.