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Digital snippets: Louis Vuitton, Victoria Beckham, Dior, Shazam, Amazon

Some more great stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital over the past week:

 

  • Louis Vuitton promotes “prostitution chic” in controversial short film (as above) [BrandChannel]
  • Dior parades exclusive lip colours via one-day Twitter activation [Luxury Daily]
  • Amazon’s confused foray into fashion tries to please too many women [Pando Daily]
  • Stefano Gabbana’s Twitter tirade after tax evasion ruling on sale of D&G [Daily Telegraph]
  • Augmented reality, intelligent mapping: fashion and tech collide in China [JingDaily]
  • That’s So 2012: have Pinterest, Foursquare and Groupon peaked? [Inc]
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Digital snippets: Google+, Yoox, Victoria Beckham, Cartier, DKNY, M&S, Groupon

Some more great stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital over the past week:

  • Google+ launches brand pages, Burberry, Macy’s and H&M first of fashion industry involved [Google Blog]
  • Victoria Beckham partners with Net-a-Porter to launch exclusive capsule dress collection (as pictured) [Vogue.co.uk]
  • Cartier gets digital [WWD
  • M&S adds social component to online video channel to push new Christmas TV ad [New Media Age]
  • Amazon’s Endless.com launch iPhone app [Techcrunch]
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Groupon insights: what the surge in the group buying market really means for small businesses

I experienced my first Groupon earlier this week, a hair treatment in East London. It was good. Other than a slight hiccup with my original appointment, the hairdresser was lovely (entertainingly eccentric in fact), the setting was quality and the result absolutely perfect.

But it had to be really. At the end of the day, the only way this guy – an independent with his first salon I may add – is going to make any money from having gone into partnership with Groupon is to encourage repeat custom. Needless to say, I put my journo head on and started asking questions…

It turns out the salon sold nearly 1,000 deals. Each one cost £65 (instead of the usual £180) with about £20 of that, from what I can figure out, going to Groupon.

From the off therefore, there’s no way this endeavour would make money; rather it would be lucky to break even.

Then there’s the fact that’s a lot of customers to try and satisfy within a six month period for an appointment that lasts up to three hours. As a result, this salon has hired multiple extra staff to deal with the demand, plus opened its doors seven days a week (including on the recent bank holidays). So that’s more cost then.

Even more amazing, however, is the way in which the salon actually gets its money. For every person through the door, it has to send Groupon proof of the bought voucher. When each one is signed off, the money eventually comes its way.

In other words, the salon is laying out for the treatment far further in advance of the cash. That might not be a big deal for a large corporation, but for a tiny salon where cash flow is of paramount importance, you can well imagine it is.

To make matters worse, the salon had various experiences whereby the customer had in fact cancelled their purchase from Groupon and got their money back. Of course, they’d already been sent the voucher, so if they wanted to they were still able to have the treatment before the salon realised. It wasn’t until the salon contacted Groupon it was told this transaction was invalid. Inevitably the fault of a dishonest consumer, but still proof of a system that needs to perhaps be reconsidered.

Said hairdresser also told me of two other salons he knows of that have had to close down off the back of partnerships with this deals website giant. He wasn’t aware of them due to their boarded up windows, but rather because Groupon contacted him to ask if he could take on the additional customers who would no longer be able to get the original treatments they bought. He said no.

You might notice I’ve kept the name of the salon confidential; I didn’t think it fair to reveal who it was. But the point is, it doesn’t really matter; the one I went to was one of the luckier ones it seems.

It’s a tough one. The deal’s market is growing rapidly, and I don’t fundamentally disagree with it – it holds great marketing potential for many. But it’s not for everyone and it shouldn’t be taken as a quick fix to helping business as though it is.

In this case, the salon is coping. It will get through its 1,000 customers and it will do so to the best possible standard so as to encourage as many of them as possible to come back. It won’t, however, be using Groupon again.

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Fashion folk feature on Wired 100 list

The June issue of UK Wired magazine landed on my desk this morning and in it the second annual Wired 100 list, featuring the most influential people in digital Britain.

It’s worth a read. First off, a woman took the top spot – Joanna Shields, vice president of EMEA Facebook – but most pleasing was the representation of fashion throughout.

Number 20 went to Natalie Massanet, founder of luxury etailer Net-a-Porter. Up from spot 72 last year, Massanet was highlighted due in the main, and rightly so, to the launch of the site’s menswear equivalent, Mr Porter, in February.”We felt men’s shopping offline and online is a subset of the female shopping experience, and that wasn’t doing justice to men. We thought they deserved their own space,” she says.

The way in which she provides content alongside commerce was also highlighted. “We… entertain you, hopefully, and educate you, and inspire you like a weekly magazine, but everything is shoppable,” she says.

Net-a-Porter Live, through which users can see what others are buying in real-time around the world, is due to launch next.

At number 32, is Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer of Burberry. What digital list would be complete without him? As Wired puts it, this is a “rare luxury brand that ‘gets’ digital.” More importantly, this is a man who does.

He says: “I often describe Burberry as an old, young company. It’s 155 years old, but technology, digital communication and social media is embedded and integrated in the company.” Asia is also a focus for the brand, with recent representation on Chinese social media sites including Sina Weibo, Kaixin001, Youku and Douban.

Also on the list is Chris Muhr, UK managing director of Groupon at number 35; Nick Robertson, co-founder and CEO of ASOS at 42; and Laura Wade-Grey, executive director of multichannel e-commerce at Marks & Spencer at 79.

YouTube make-up sensation Lauren Luke even makes an appearance at number 89, for the instructional videos that have transformed her into a multimedia brand.

Check out the full list in the magazine, or keep checking back to the website for its online reveal throughout the month. Numbers 100-80 can already be found, here.

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The world of daily deals wrapped up

Online MBA has unveiled a “cheat sheet” surrounding the burgeoning daily deals phenomenon.

Featuring the four biggest sites, LivingSocial, Groupon, Facebook Deals and Google Offers, it summarises everything from when each was founded to how much they’re worth and what the retailer’s cut is.

Check it out, below:

[Mashable]

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Facebook Deals to come with £50,000 media spend

Brands in the UK hoping to provide Facebook users with access to special offers through the site’s new deals service are going to have to spend £50,000 on banner advertising to do so, according to Brand Republic.

Facebook Deals, which launched in beta in the UK in January and was originally free, already has the likes of Debenhams and Mazda as partners.

It enables users to check in using the social networking site’s location feature, Facebook Places, and find nearby offers.

Facebook declined to comment.

With the surge in deal marketing at present (see my post from yesterday), it seems like quite an odd move to me – brands could easily turn to Foursquare or the forthcoming Groupon Now instead. Having said that, Facebook’s userbase is now over 600m, Foursquare’s is perhaps more like 6m; perhaps that’s worth £50k after all?

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Deal or no deal? Tech companies dive deeper through location, brands approach direct

I spent a great deal of my weekend catching up on stories from SXSW. There were a lot.

Particularly fascinating was the read on “deals” as this year’s buzzword. Check out this article from Advertising Age about Groupon influencing a whole host of other services – new deal-orientated projects from Google, Loopt and SCVNGR are all mentioned as well as upgrades to those belonging to Facebook and Foursquare.

It’s fair to say the paths of location networking and deals have truly collided (though it’s arguable whether they were ever actually distinguishable in the first place). What’s perhaps more interesting, is the further news of Groupon’s real-time mobile service.

Groupon Now, which will launch in April, will help people find deals nearby to them based on two different options: “I’m Hungry” and “I’m Bored”.

Or in other words, where location was going into deals, now deals are going into location.

Adding to the mix no less, is the fact it’s not just tech companies working out how to benefit in this world. Brands are bypassing these third party apps and reaching out to consumers directly too.

Last week, Gap, which hit the headlines with its sellout Groupon offer last summer, launched its own deals initiative.

Through gapmyprice.com, consumers could name how much they wanted to pay for a pair of men’s khakis. By clicking on “let’s make a deal”, they made an offer for one of 18 styles retailing for between $49.50 and $59.50. Gap then presented its deal in return which shoppers could either accept or counter before receiving a final price.

According to the site’s winners tab, offers tended towards $35-$45 for a $49.50 pair. All rather along the lines of TV game show Deal or No Deal (as pictured), albeit without the £1m prize balancing the other end. Of course, gaming is another area so intrinsic to this world, as I wrote about here.

Chris Donnelly, an executive partner in Accenture’s retail practice, told AdAge: “You get to this space we’re in right now where, even though the economy is picking up, consumers still expect things to be on sale. That leaves the retailer to come up with ways to give discounts without completely eroding margins.”

“[Gap’s deals initiative] is a better way of price discrimination, because you’re trying to tailor the price to each individual. A coupon is a very blunt tool. If I give everyone a 30% off coupon, some would have bought full price and some still won’t buy,” he said.

Does it have staying power? Potentially. But if you ask me, it’s sites like Groupon (it’s also worth checking out this chart documenting its rise to potential $25bn IPO) and Foursquare that are the ones to watch most closely.

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ASOS on Groupon

Daisy Lowe on the cover of ASOS magazine

Remember Gap’s runaway success on Groupon last summer – a total of 441,000 sold ($25 for $50 voucher), worth just over $11 million.

Well, in the UK today it’s the turn of ASOS. For £9, shoppers get a £20 voucher to spend (55% discount).

At time of posting, upwards of 24,700 have already been sold. There’s 33 hours to go and the limit is set at 25,000, so hurry if you want a look in.

UPDATE: 29 hours to go, 31,000 sold, and the limit has been raised to 50,000.

441,000 Groupons were sold, bringing in a little more than $11 million.