How are Traditional Italian Brands Embracing the Web

Tradition and heritage are main values of Italian luxury and fashion brands. The internet challenges these values. How can traditional brands take advantage of the web without losing their roots? In this report, the online presence of deep-rooted Italian brands is analysed and accordingly the possible success opportunities have been brought forth.

Traditional Italian Brands and Their Online Presence

Cruciani Since 2011 Cruciani offers colourful bracelets.They are present on the mainstream social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. An advantage could be to add an Instagram channel to its name, too. However, Cruciani handles its Facebook page very well. Users can switch regions and languages. Their Facebook page supports Italian, English and even Japanese, Chinese and Arabic versions.

Braccialini Besides the mainstream social media channels, Braccialini is active on Vkontakte.com, too. This is the most important fashion social media channel in Russia (commonly known as the Russian version of Facebook). Since Russians are a main target group for many fashion and luxury brands, this channel is recommended for other brands as well.

Alberto Guardiani An Italian premium footwear brand, has its website translated in multiple languages too. Further going deeper in its online store, there are even more translations available, including French, Russian and Turkish. It's a smart strategy by the brand, as, it's targeting well all of its big markets via local language communications.

Brunello Cucinelli 's website is available in Italian, English, Chinese and Japanese versions. The online store is available in even more languages. The online store performs well in terms of UX etc.; however, the main website shows very large graphics which makes the navigation disappear. This could be improved since it is not very user-friendly, especially for a first-timer who’s browsing around for more information.

Laura Biagiotti The website is modern and easy to use. The brand only offers an Italian and English version. Here, a positive to mention is that the brand provides an App for iPhones. It is playful and leads the users through Rome city structure. Thus, this creates a great connection between the brand’s Italian roots and its audience, and, hence, its online performance.

Elena MiròThe website, in general, is good, but again a few language issues exist. For instance, one can choose German as a language but the rubric “slowpay” is still in Italian. A website should be tested entirely to provide coherency throughout the whole page. The user loses trust if some parts of the website are not in the language he or she has chosen and the possible ‚consumer path’ is hindered at that very first stage.

Loro Piana The website is different from the common websites, which makes the user experience harder. However, the idea of broadcasting a client’s daily routine through pictures and offering an appropriate link for each occasion with suitable products, is novel.

Italian Language as a Primary Communication Source

Having a Facebook page in Italian can be positive since it is authentic. Furthermore, Italian managers can be sure that there are no spelling mistakes in the written text. On Facebook, users even have the possibility to translate the text into another language per default. Nevertheless, this tool has to be treated with caution, because a lot of translation mistakes happen. For a luxury or high-end brand, this is an absolute no-go. As one can see on the picture below “automatic translation” cannot translate “Scoprile”, for instance.

A good way to avoid such mistakes is to create a global page as United Colours of Benetton did. On the picture below one can see that the user can choose between languages. Of course, this method needs more in-house resources but luxury brands should invest in their online representation, so as to be a role model, as usual.

Time and Frequency of Posting

Posting few times a week is positive since it does not disturb the users. Luxury or fashion marques should stay on the side-line, to maintain their mystique and exclusive image.

But on the other hand, if brands have a Facebook page, they have to curate them constantly on a weekly basis. Posting only once a month will lead to fewer engagements, which drives into a bad Edge Rank. Even if a brand has 1 million followers and posts only once a month, Facebook will treat this page as less important. Thus, the post reach will suffer. This leads to a downward spiral. At the end, this page with 1 million followers will only have six likes on a Facebook posting. Fixing such a bad ranked Facebook page is hard. As we can see on the example of Gianfranco Ferré and Rafaella Curiel, there are still some brands that do not post continuously.

Hashtags and Posts' Content

Hashtags are a good tool for Twitter or Instagram but not for Facebook.

Many Italian Brands do not even compose an appropriate text line they often write only a sequence of hashtags. Statistics tell that Facebook postings without hashtags perform better than those with hashtags. However, a brand must create a custom tag, especially to address its special campaign or such, so as to have a ‘signature mark’ for itself. Furthermore, content should be written for the customers not for post reach and rankings. Brands have to use hashtags wisely. Below we can see examples of brands with good social media content.

Asking the user actively to do something is what social media is all about. With questions at the end of each posting engagement can be fostered. Another good way to interact with users is to start challenges/contests such as Tod’s and Valentino did. Asking people to upload pictures or drawings enhance the love to the brand. The users feel more connected and involved with the brand.

Michael Kors is a top example of how to maintain the brands personality, while still keeping up with the times. The designer uses Twitter to talk about his own private experiences and tastes. More good examples such as these, are available Fashionbi Index® Book.

Omnichannel Strategies (online+offline)

QR Codes are used less in the Western world than in Asia, but they still can be a good way to combine the offline world with the online one. Shazam is another creative way of how to link those two worlds. Soon Shazam will offer a similar service via QR codes. Customers can scan the Shazam logo and by visual recognition technology, the user gets forwarded to an appropriate landing page. Since the olden days, glossy print magazines were part of the fashion world. But then again, often those static pictures cannot transmit the emotion behind the scene. Videos are a better solution. Of course, the attention should not be on product-focused videos but on emotional ones. Thus, Italian brands should use those tools for branding but less for selling.

Future Growth and Opportunities

Growing without being online is impossible today. Italian brands have to communicate to the whole society to transmit their brand values and not only to their customers.

An excellent Italian online marketing example is Versace. Their website is clean and available in English, Italian and Chinese. A plus could be adding Russian, Arabic and Japanese, as well. Pictures are the main asset of fashion brands and they use them effectively on their website.

They are present on all main social media platforms even on Asian one’s like Weibo. Furthermore, users can find a QR-code to communicate with Versace via WeChat. This is a great tool to build intensive customer relationships. Facebook could still be improved since they have no global page but use English as main language. This could be a strategic decision, but the brand loses a bit of its Italian roots.

But overall, their online presence could be taken as inspiration for other brands.

Another good example of how to use social media comes from Roberto Cavalli. On Facebook, one can create a timeline till the date the fashion brand was founded. This is a good way to integrate traditional values and heritage into the new world of social media.

For more information on the author, visit: www.sabrina-ritter.com

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