Supervisor: Margareta Paulsson
Authors: Charlotte LARBANET Benjamin LIGIER
Master Thesis Umeå School of Business Spring Semester 2009
Assistance from many people contributed to the accomplishment of our master thesis. Therefore we wish to express our thanks to Umea School of Business and Economics for contributing toward the success of our year abroad in Sweden. Also, we would like to thank our teachers, friends, and classmates at USBE. It has been a real privilege to work in an international school at multinational and diverse people‟s side. Special thanks go to our supervisor Margareta Paulsson for her determination to make our paper each time better with corrections and suggestions. Finally, we appreciated the love and encouragement from our families stayed in France during this experience of ten months at Umeå.
This thesis is firstly dedicated to my parents Anne-Valérie and Patrice Larbanet and to my grand-parents Annick and Jean-Paul Godart for their education and love; and to Marc Moles for all his support during this year. Charlotte Larbanet
I highly dedicate this thesis to my entire family: my parents Michèle and Daniel Ligier but also to my brothers and sister Maxime, Jean-Philippe and Anne-Sophie Ligier.
Luxury is a particular sector that is difficult to define. However it can be characterized using these following adjectives: high price product, exclusivity, prestige, and niche market. A luxury branding offers a high quality product associated to a superb level of service to customers looking for pleasure, experience but also social identification. Internet is a mass media using by 1,596 million of people around the world that don‟t permit physical interaction between web users. Despite this, the authors asked themselves why a mass media without physical contact possibility was used by an industry of niche whose the pillars are high service levels and relationship. The aim of the study was firstly to understand and show that the Internet is a medium equal to the luxury industry‟s demands and needs in terms of communication and distribution. The second objective was to describe how luxury brands should design and build their websites in order to respect their luxury‟s specificities and reach their goals. This paper starts with a definition the luxury sector in order to equip the readers with the subject in concern. Besides it, an overview of the relevant concepts about marketing tools and Internet applications available to online brands is made. Then, the concept of Web experience is reached giving the four important elements in a website conception: technology, interactivity, trust and services. Next, we audited eight French and American luxury websites using these same four elements in order to observe current practices and support our literature review. By making comparison between theoretical and empirical findings, we observed that there are many marketing tools and Internet applications that are actually used. Viral marketing, Relationship marketing, Customer Relationship Management and Web 2.0 applications are some examples of what permit to improve the four online elements and thus provide a real luxury web experience. After this study, we concluded that the Internet medium was equal to the luxury industry‟s requirements and needs because it actually permits them to provide a service of high level and to build relationship with online customers. Secondly, we precised which elements of a website, in concrete terms, have to be improved at their maximum during the website conception. The contribution of this thesis is mainly a feedback for luxury managers and web-designers in order to inform them about what is really possible to realize online nowadays and what it is actually done in France and in the USA.