NEW YORK, United States — On Monday, Professor Scott Galloway’s NYU-based thinktank LuxuryLab, or L2, released advance copies of their third annual “Digital IQ” report, assessing the digital competence of 49 global fashion and leather goods firms, to a small number of media outlets, including BoF.
According to the study, which will be published later today, fashion brands are embracing digital innovation with enthusiasm and have been amongst the first to pilot forward-thinking marketing initiatives on platforms like Foursquare, Tumblr and the fashion flock’s current obsession, photo-sharing app Instagram. “Some programs could best be described as bleeding edge,” says the study, referring to Ralph Lauren’s experimentation with ‘4D’ projection mapping technology.
But a closer reading reveals that a majority of fashion companies — in a sector which trades on being perfectly contemporary and thinks in terms of trend cycles — still regard the rise of digital media as a trend to be exploited, first and foremost, for its PR and image value.
“Brands are seeking the halo of innovation that comes from inspired online programming,” says the study. “However, most fashion brands still approach digital as a series of pet projects rather than presenting a coherent multi-platform strategy.”
While digital darling Burberry claimed first place in the rankings, more revealing was the poor performance of top brands like Hermès and Prada which have failed to keep pace with innovation, falling from “Gifted” in 2009 to “Challenged” in 2011. “Hubris has infected them with complacency online,” says the study, noting that Prada still doesn’t maintain any official presence on social media, including Facebook, where a "rogue page" maintained by a Prada brand loyalist has attracted more than 800,000 fans.
Interestingly, the report also reveals that the European conglomerates which own many of the world’s top fashion houses appear to be doing little to facilitate knowledge sharing amongst their brands, evidenced by wildly uneven digital competence scores within the major groups. At LVMH, for example, Louis Vuitton is ranked “Gifted,” while Givenchy came in 48th place amongst the 49 brands included in the study. At PPR, Gucci is ranked “Genius” while Balenciaga, one of the industry’s most forward-thinking brands in terms of design, remains “Challenged” when it comes to digital.
Download the full Digital IQ Index here
Vikram Alexei Kansara is Managing Editor of The Business of Fashion