McArthurGlen gets all wired up at luxury conference – 15/11/07

Luxury look: McArthurGlen, the speciality developer which recently heralded its Collezioni luxury retail concept at airports, introduced its upscale branding at yesterday’s 2007 Luxury Briefing Conference in London

UK. McArthurGlen, the speciality developer which recently announced its Collezioni luxury retail concept at airports, unveiled its own new-look branding as the sponsor of yesterday’s 2007 Luxury Briefing Conference in London.

The event’s theme, which posed the question “Web 2.0 – Are you on board?”, centred on luxury brands and their usage of the web.

The highly regarded speaker line-up included Tyler Brûlé, founder and Editor-in-Chief of Monocle, Jonathan Towle, Marketing Director of Paul Smith, Dee Salomon, Senior Vice President of Condé and Natalie Massenet, the founder of Net-à

Massenet, who started her luxury online store Net-à in 2000 and has built the business to around £40 million in annual sales, had five key words of advice for those venturing onto the web: “Don’t delay, do it today”.

She urged luxury brands and retailers to cast aside notions of geographical boundaries and to put customer service first, explaining that Net-à offers worldwide delivery and returns on its products for a reason. “Some websites say they are testing their deliveries in the USA or Germany or wherever but this is frustrating for the customer. It’s the same customer who wants your products wherever they are in the world,” she said.

Massenet believes brands can extend their service hours by using the web effectively as a 24-hour experience, allowing customers to shop or to contact you at any time. She also spoke of the importance of communicating with your audience – if you can’t respond to them immediately, tell them. “Keep your communication open and treat your customer with dignity,” she said.

Engaging editorial content

The importance of editorial content to stimulate the user’s online experience also came to the fore. This is an area Massenet has used to great effect on Net-à-Porter as a former fashion editor on a leading style magazine.

The editorial concept was also driven home by Tyler Brûlé, who founded Wallpaper magazine as well as his new Monocle media venture. He hammered home the importance of audio-visual content, including streaming video broadcasts, to engage users. This thought was echoed by Dee Salomon of CondéNet, the web arm of US publisher Condé Nast, who enthused about podcasts, videos and other visually-driven web content.

A number of speakers highlighted Gucci’s website ( as a beacon of e-commerce in an otherwise uninspiring field.

Involve your marketers

Chris Sanderson and Tom Saviger of The Future Laboratory, the UK-based trend forecasters, urged brands to involve marketers in their web activities, observing that “Luxury consumers are active and discerning and want to get deeper into your brand – the story, the narration.”

They pointed to the diverse way in which consumers are now using offline and online methods of communicating – from texting brands via television advertisements [a tactic used effectively by UK watch firm Sekonda – Ed] while Porsche Design is enabling consumers to buy products from a screen on a shop window, even when its stores are closed.

The Future Laboratory noted that data from Ledbury Research had indicated that luxury consumers do not want websites to replicate the offline luxe experience on their websites – they are seeking simple design and navigation. Many luxury consumers also actively want to wait for their goods, hence the rise in popularity of waiting lists.

Their ideas to extend modern society’s 24-hour culture included stock checks on mobile phones that enable shoppers to see if their chosen item is in-store, and membership-only pre-collection viewings online.

Top online tips

Here are The Future Laboratory’s conclusions:

– Be aware of the digital divide, where age is in issue (“are you ‘too old’ to understand the web?”);
– Understand the technology;
– Raise the bar on web content;
– Tell the story of your brand;
– Be an expert;
– Go beyond the product;
– Be exclusive and inclusive;
– Keep your website human and authentic;
– Remember that your website is only one of a series of touchpoints in your commercial activities.

FROM THE PUBLISHER Collezioni was examined in-depth in the latest issue of The Moodie Report Digital Print Edition. Click here to download.

* The Luxury Briefing Conference is an annual event hosted by Luxury Briefing, the leading publication for the luxury goods industry. For details, visit

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