Student Series: How to Sell Luxury using 360 Video
By LILLY HANSON
As part of the Fovrth Fellowship, we’ve launched a “Student Series” to explore what is working, and what’s not, in 360 video. These blog posts are their first impressions of the 360 landscape across various themes.
A world of lavishness and luxuriousness is out of reach for many, but with the growing technology of 360 videos and virtual reality the life of luxury has become more attainable. While many of the viewers watching these videos do not possess the money to purchase the products, they are now able to test out products that were inaccessible before this equipment. But has the use of 360 videos affected the audience actually targeted? With luxury fashion, car and jewelry companies attempting to influence their audience effectively and make an impact, is 360 video the best way to do that?
Luxury companies have begun using 360 technology to provide an up-close, interactive, personal and potentially impactful experience to viewers. With large price tags, it’s an effective strategy to have customers “try before they buy” these extravagant products. While the viewer is positioned at the center of an experience, there still lacks an ability to feel the product, service or place. Because of this limitation, many companies have resorted not to specific products of luxury, but instead to selling the idea of luxury, continuing the trend of aspirational marketing that dominates social media.
The high society of couture fashion is experienced by few, and yet fashion brands such as Dior and Yves Saint Laurent are at the forefront of advanced marketing campaigns by using 360 video to create gorgeous, compelling advertisements that invite anyone into their private society. Dior released a 360-degree video in October 2016 to hype the skincare line, Dior Prestige.
In the advertisement, the viewer is taken inside the childhood home of Christian Dior in Normandy, France. Instead of centering the video on a $390.00 face crème, the company leads viewers to explore the seaside grounds teeming with pink roses, while an ethnobotanist explains how the ocean breeze nourishes the Rose de Granville — the main ingredient in the crème. With images of sprawling rose gardens and ocean coasts, Dior takes viewers to a place they would never dream of visiting in real life, thus selling the idea of luxury with a one minute and 30 second video. Analyzing the video, it follows guidelines set by the YouTube Creator Academy by having the ethnobotanist treat the camera as a person and talk at eye level to the viewer. But while it excels at keeping the camera stable and level, it fails to give viewers enough time to look around and see where they are. In scenes where the viewer is situated looking down at the entirety of Dior’s property, there is little time to take in the scene before being transported to a new destination. Instead of focusing on two or three scenes of the rose gardens, the video bites off more than it can chew and overdoes it by flipping to a multitude of locations to show off the luxury property.
Yves Saint Laurent continued the trend of transporting viewers to unthinkable destinations with a 360 video of different locations in Paris depicted in a video used for the campaign for their new perfume, Mon Paris. While 360 video inhibits viewers from smelling the $126.00 perfume, the campaign works because it showcases breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower that gives viewers the idea that they can be whisked away on rooftops for a one night Parisian adventure. By analyzing the video, one can see it has similar pitfalls as the Dior 360 video. Quick flips from location to location leaves little time for the viewer to pan the entire 360-degrees. In selling the idea of luxury, one view of Paris is enough to satisfy those who will never visit the city themselves.
For those who do have the opportunity to travel the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad, is attempting to redefine luxury travel. In June 2016, Nicole Kidman stared in this five minute short for Etihad Airways immersing viewers in a fully experiential journey following Kidman through one of the new Airbus A380s flying non-stop between New York and Abu Dhabi. Shane O’Hare, SVP of Marketing for Etihad, told Adweek, “Some things need to be experienced, not explained [. . .] our incredible A380 product cannot adequately be described by words alone, or by traditional film, or even by 3-D film alone. It has to be experienced.”
Where the YSL experience failed to allow you to focus on a single object until the concluding sunset, the Etihad experience maintains steady and controlled motion in the plane’s many cabins. With a long flight as the setting and the plane as a frame of reference the viewer is allowed to experience the luxury flight in every aspect. The 360 video no longer exists for viewers to rotate the camera, which leads to a lesser experience since the task of rotating should always go to the viewer with this technology, according to the YouTube Creator Academy.
In attempts to give more control to the viewer, the luxury car company Lexus partnered with ABC Studios’ Quantico to give viewers to entire new life. Inside the website dedicated to the campaign, viewers assumed the role of a new recruit on a mission with Quantico characters as they tracked down a target using a Lexus LX570 flagship SUV. The three minute video excels at points mentioned in previous videos, treating the camera as a person and using the car as a frame of reference for the viewer. Despite moving from scene to scene quickly, the experience still works as the situation would require that type of movement. Perhaps the only downfall is that the viewer is still in a virtual reality and requires characters to suggest viewpoints and movements instead of allowing the viewer to move freely themselves. The selling point of the car becomes lost in the attempts to solve the mission given to the viewer, leaving the question that maybe a 360 video centered on the car would be better.
Overall, trends for selling luxury in 360 video are the best when creators look beyond the product and sell the idea surrounding the product instead. For instance, a 360 video showcasing an item of jewelry is okay, but a video of the viewer wearing the jewelry while attending a fancy event better sells the idea that “everyone’s eyes will be on you” if you wear the product.
Because of high costs of virtual reality technology, the idea of 360 video remains a fringe advertising technique according to Bloomberg Technology. With the idea of it being an exclusive experience, luxury marketers have the ability to harness the technology without many competitors. As more modest companies begin to dabble in 360 video, luxury brands have the ability to showcase experiences and transport viewers to places they will never experience in real life which place them at an advantage. Whether or not they will harness that advantage the correctly, only time will tell.
Lilly Hanson is a multimedia and 360/VR fellow at Fovrth Studios.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the those of Fovrth Studios.
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