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Dolce & Gabbana dresses marketing strategy with mobile

Luxury fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana is using mobile as a direct communication channel between the company and its customers.

The "D&G Fashion Channel" application is available in the iPhone App Store and its concept is to provide a new way of interaction with the D&G audience. The company is using mobile as a means of "following users in their real life."

"If you think about the experience of going to a Dolce & Gabbana store, or Gucci or Prada or whatever, it's very personal and one-on-one," said Matt Silk, senior vice president of Waterfall Mobile. "The shopper gets an attentive, targeted service and is shown exactly what they want to see. In turn, customers pay a premium both for the service and for the high quality of the products.

"Mobile is uniquely suited to this market because it too is personal, precise and customized," he said. "If you get a text about a super-exclusive handbag sale at Louis Vuitton, happening only for repeat customers and only at the store where you made your last purchase, that is a hugely impactful message.

"And the cost of mobile has to look very reasonable to companies that spend millions on fashion shows and celebrity endorsement deals."

The D&G application is divided into three main sections: Lifestyle, World and Stores.

The Lifestyle section provides a selection of content about the D&G world and products. The section contains video highlights from the D&G Man and Woman Winter 2010 catwalk shows.

Direct from the D&G ad campaign, users can also save images as wall paper and send via email to friends. There is a wide variety of shots from D&G's latest ad campaign.

"Luxury brands thrive in large part because of often-times-unmatched loyalty from their customers," said Eric Harber, president and chief operating officer of HipCricket, Kirkland, WA. "These companies need to exceed expectations.

"Mobile marketing provides the personalization that high-end consumers demand," he said. "Using the iPhone as part of an integrated strategy is smart - if you have an iPhone, there's a sense of belonging to an elite but growing club. Luxury brands foster these same feelings."

The World section of the app provides information about specific D&G products for men and women. The section also has images of 2010 winter products.

Time, Jewels and Eyewear is showcased in the World section.

The Stores section allows the user to find the nearest D&G stores. Each store is provided with detailed contact information and can be geolocated on an interactive map.

Mobile no longer luxury
This isn't D&G's first foray into mobile.

The brand proved that mobile advertising is effective as well as fashionable last year when it ran a mobile campaign on the Nokia Media Network.

The mobile campaign demonstrated that brands that have relied upon traditional forms of media are now benefiting from the targeting and high response rates mobile offers. The D&G campaign promoted the brand's teen-focused fashion catalog, while increasing awareness during the Men's Fashion Show in Milan, Italy in June (see story).

But luxury brands may seem like they are behind when it comes to jumping onto the mobile bandwagon.

"Mobile marketing is a tiny portion of even online budgets, which in turn comprises a dinky 2 percent of budgets overall," said Brennan Hayden, vice president of WirelessDeveloper Agency. "The result is, the slightest force can create what looks in relative terms like a big move.

"So what is happening may not be a sustained trend," he said. "Second, luxury advertisers had not fully integrated online advertising strategy when the most recent recession hit. As the first glimmers of recovery are happening, there is a matter-of-fact belief in many quarters that mobile must be scooped into these ongoing online efforts at full-speed. It isn't optional.

"So what you are seeing may simply be the naturally occurring mobile portion of larger campaigns brought on by the nascent recovery, led by the last segment to decline, and therefore the first to return."

Mr. Hayden also said that though many mobile environments may seem, like the PC, less prestigious on their own and therefore anathema to luxury brands, the iPhone clearly does not suffer from that problem.

"It is seen as very prestigious, and frankly, lifts the entire industry in the eyes of these brands," Mr. Hayden said. "Thank you, Apple."

Clearly mobile is becoming more fashionable as other luxury brands have made their way to the channel.

Preppy retailer Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. launched an iPhone-optimized site for, the site for its sporty line of Ralph Lauren Rugby apparel.

Like the existing WAP site that is optimized for all other mobile devices, the iPhone site lets consumers browse and buy all products that are available on (see story).

Additionally, international fashion house Chloé launched an iPhone-optimized Web site and an app to let fashion-savvy consumers stay connected with the luxury apparel and accessories brand even while on the go.

The mobile site features the latest ready-to-wear collections and Chloe bags and accessories. IPhone users just need to type into their browser window (see story).

"The iPhone has gotten everyone's attention," said Neil Strother, Seattle-based analyst at Forrester Research. "Right now it's sort of like a ?me too' mentality. Brands see their competitors getting into the app stores and so they are jumping on board.

"The important thing with apps is that they provide something that benefits the end user as well as the brand," Mr. Strother said. "Brands are using apps as a means of communicating to their customers and to raise awareness, but need to remember that the user experience is key for all of that."