Carla de Preval, Digital Marketing Manager for Yves Saint Laurent, was interviewed at the LeWeb London event this week. She explained that luxury is not just about story-telling and craftsmanship, but also very much about innovation: “When you look at the history of almost every luxury brand, the kickoff thing was always about innovation… Saint Laurent invented prêt-a-porter clothes, bringing haute couture to women in the street for the first time, and that’s what we continue to strive to do today.”
The company aims to have a multi-touch approach, with one key message that is adapted to different platforms, each combining added value with “cutting-edge experiences.” This means that the company doesn’t focus on any particular platform or technology when trying to engage with customers: “All the different social tools can be useful in reaching our consumers and giving them the best possible adapted technology. It’s about whatever is the ‘air du temps,’ like Pinterest, Instagram, and so on… as long as it luxurious enough, respecting the aesthetics, obviously.”
A launch of a new makeup brand, for example, might involving inviting Instagram users to post pictures, teasers on Twitter, the creation of infographics for Pinterest and cover pictures for Facebook.
De Preval gave the example of an upcoming campaign for Touch Eclat, a popular highlighter product. The company talked to bloggers around the world and created videos of their vision of how they were going to use the makeup, how they selected shades, and so on. The videos will be not only posted on YouTube and Facebook, but also shown in the retail stores at the point of sale.
One of the company’s key goals is to create a seamless experience between the offline and online worlds. An example of this is a recent campaign for YSL’s new Vernis à Lèvres glossy stain lip line. It included the installation of interactive hardware in Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Using the Microsoft Kinnect technology, visitors could “throw” different colors to create “their artistic vision of color.” You can play an online version of the “splash” at the YSLExperience.com web site. They co-organized an event at Heathrow with Facebook where people could get free samples of the product.
The company has also created an iPhone application called “Color Mirror,” which involved close collaboration between a startup and the company’s makeup artists to ensure that the result was as close as possible to real-life.
In line with the luxury status of the products, the company aims to concentrate on a small number of “VIP blogs” in each country, and work with them on a long-term relationship, providing them with experiences and information “to help them really understand the brand.” De Preval emphasized that the luxury bloggers, although very different from journalists, have a very high level of expertise: “You can’t bullshit them. You can’t market things to them that aren’t truly edgy breakthrough stuff”
Another startup mentioned by De Preval was Tigerlily, a social media content manager for Facebook that YSL uses internationally.
Finally, De Preval gave an “exclusive avant-première” of the company’s latest innovation, explaining that “we wanted to digitalize the full experience – but who could we digitalize the product itself?… Now, just like Saint Laurent created prêt-a-porter, we have created the first real social beauty product, called ‘Devoted to Fans’, that we will be selling in early July in a limited edition.”