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Selling Short the Chanel Experience

Karl Lagerfeld’s love of the photo booths continues…

‘In May  2011 at the  amfAR Gala Karl Lagerfeld presented a series of black and white «Photo-booth» portraits of celebrities which was followed by a Chanel’s Fall 2011-2012 Advertising Campaign – “Cocomaton” . The campaign was shot by Karl Lagerfeld, featured Freja Beha Erichsen, and famously styled by Carine Roitfeld. I am curious to know if the Andy Warhol Photo booth pictures published posthumously in 1989 by the Robert Miller Gallery of New York and Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain were an inspiration point for these images’.- Olya Bell

Read more to see the Chanel PhotoBooth PRINT Campaign Images

Hannah and I have always been fans of a good photo both photo. Unfortunately, the Chanel Facebook app was not available to me. So I improvised!

‘Olya and I can become quite excited by fashion print campaigns, but clearly, in this day and age a brand cannot be built on print media alone. When you look at the other strategies Chanel is currently using it includes elements like a smartphone-optimized Web site, mobile applications and the use of social media like  Facebook and Twitter. All these tactics are aimed at increasing the number of touch-points with the consumer and ultimately (you would hope) designed to complement the Chanel in-store experience.  When you examine Chanel’s recent digital strategy (like the Photo Booth Facebook Ap)  t would appear that Chanel is attempting to be more accessible to a broader audience and a widen its customer base.

Unlike other luxury brands such as Hermes, you cannot purchase on the Chanel site – so we thought you might be interested to hear how this marketing activity translated to a recent in-store experience. Like most women, I have always had a bit of a soft spot for all things Chanel and I absolutely loved the simplicity of the Fall 2011-2012 Chanel campaign. Personally, I found these images reminiscent of the simplicity of Coco Chanel herself… or at the very least a great modern interpretation of the Chanel aesthetic’. – Hannah Brooks.

I know that pop-culture would have us believe we live in a world in which reality stars have an endless supply of matching Chanel. In actuality, for the vast majority of us, our Chanel purchases tend to take the form of a new lipstick, our favourite fragrance, a pair of sunglasses, or if we’re feeling really extravagant, a pair of shoes.

In-Store Shopping Tales

With the opening of the Bondi Junction and Sydney City Westfield centres – Sydney has seen an explosion of new stores from international luxury brands. At Christmas, I had an Australian (ex-pat friend, who currently lives in Asia), come to visit and we were both appalled by the Chanel experience on offer here. Unlike most of us, this friend is absolutely the type to make a spontaneous luxury handbag purchase.

Allow me to set the scene… my friend actually walked into these Chanel stores with a Chanel bag on her arm. You would think that her choice of accessories would indicate to the sales staff that she was, indeed, a true sales lead. After standing around for quite some time in the Bondi Junction store we were finally approached by a salesperson. My friend showed the staff member an image of bag on that she had seen in a recent editorial… the staff member barked at us that was” last seasons” bag and then promptly turned his heels and left us to our own devices….just to clarify …he was not serving anyone else at the time.

I worked in retail for may years and I can honestly say that anybody who comes into your store armed with an actual image is usually fairly keen to make a purchase of some kind. You would expect that in an institution like Chanel, such a customer enquiry would have prompted the sales associate to at least ask one of the following questions

  • What do you like about this particular bag, is it the size, the colour?”
  • ‘”As that product is no longer available perhaps you might be interested in looking at this seasons equivalent style?”
  • “Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Amazingly, my friend was still keen to make the purchase and so we later headed to the City Westfield Chanel store. This is a small store and we walked into what looked like part of the showroom. As you can see from the image below you can actually fit several people in between the window and the shelves. Even to someone with a great deal of retail experience – it was not obvious that this area was purely for display. We were the only people in the store at the time and when were approached by a staff member we were asked “not to touch the merchandise in the display”… once again, the staff member didn’t bother to engage in any further conversation or even take the time to show us an example of the bag that we were actually allowed to touch.

On leaving the store, we observed one staff member checking himself out in the mirror and the rest of the staff members gossiping at the counter …so clearly the staff were not rushed off their feet at the time. Call me sentimental but I really expected more from Chanel!!!!

For me, the purchase of a Chanel bag would be a big deal, the result of much penny-pinching, and only likely to occur after very long and careful consideration. This in-store experience seems to be in direct contrast to the brands current digital strategy and really fails to deliver on the Chanel brand promise. – Hannah Brooks

So what can we take from the Sydney Chanel experience?

  • Has the explosion of luxury brands in Sydney meant that is too hard to get good help and is there just not enough good staff to go around?
  • Is this merely a training issue?
  • Does their commission structure fail to incentivize Sydney Chanel staff?
  • The only customers who seemed to be getting any attention by the staff were international tourists (which my friend actually qualifies as), are Chanel staff trained to reject local Sydneysider’s as potential Chanel customers?

Perhaps the purchasing experience stops being a luxury experience when a brand becomes available at the mall…do you think we should we lower our expectations of the Chanel experience as a result of the democratisation of the brand?

For more information on the Chanel digital strategy click on the links below.

Luxury Brand Daily

Luxury Brand Daily Chanel Facebook APP

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I have continued my quest for the Chanel bag written about & have been into stores in Jakarta, Dubai & Beirut with the same level of service experienced in the two Sydney stores. Is this an international epidemic?

    January 16, 2012
  2. It’s an absolute travesty Kimberly! Why to to the expense of extravagant print campaigns and to the trouble of creating clever digital applications if you let the side down once potential customers enter your store.

    January 16, 2012

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