Talking About Luxury Watches and QR Codes on Luxury Daily

In today’s Luxury Daily, I’m quoted in an article which discusses a new QR Code-based print ad by luxury watch maker Christoper Ward. My comments and summary are in bold.

Christopher Ward aims for mobile sales via QR code
By Erin Shea May 15, 2013

British watchmaker Christopher Ward is aiming to trigger mobile sales through a QR code on its print advertisement in the spring issue of Aston Martin magazine.

The QR code links to Christopher Ward’s U.S. Web site, which allows consumers to learn more about the C900 Harrison Single Pusher Chronograph and make a purchase. Although the site is not mobile-optimized, it contains images and a video that can be viewed from the pinch-and-zoom site.

“We currently place QR codes on all our ads,” said Mike France, cofounder of Christopher Ward, Berkshire, England.

“We know that those in our target market are high users of smartphones and also like to use mobile technology for both researching and buying luxury products, so the QR code allows immediate access to more information about our watches and, if necessary, a purchase,” he said.

“The Aston Martin magazine has an upscale readership that correlates very closely with the upper quartile of our market.”

Print to purchase
Christopher Ward placed the QR code on the top right of its print ad, so that it is easily accessible to consumers. The ad shows the C900 Harrison Single Pusher Chronograph, priced at $3,365.

 Print ad 

Scanning the code brings consumers to the watchmaker’s U.S. Web site, which is not mobile-optimized. The landing page shows the same watch in the ad.

From the Web site, consumers can explore close-up images of the timepiece, watch a short video, read about the product’s features, read  reviews and make a purchase.

Christopher Ward site 

The 56-second video shows a quick overview of the timepiece and its details.

The images show multiple views of the product.

However, since there is no call to action on the ad, consumers may not even scan the QR code.

“If there is no call-to-action or any meaningful reason for a consumer to scan the code then I do not believe the code will generate many scans,” said Roger Marquis, expert on print-to-digital technologies and author of 2D Bar Code Strategy, New York.  

Buying dilemma
Many watchmakers use QR codes on their print ads, but few offer a purchase option through the code.

Hublot, Bell & Ross, Franck Muller and other watchmakers use QR codes to drive consumers from print to mobile, but this effort could be ineffective since often products cannot be purchased online.

QR codes can effectively take magazine readers from a print ad to a mobile site where products can be explored and purchased. However, luxury marketers need to up their strategy to engage consumers with QR codes, experts say (see story).

Even though Christopher Ward offers a purchase option on its Web site, consumers are likely going to use their computers to purchase since the site is pinch-and-zoom on a mobile device.

“For a company all about time, Christopher Ward inexplicably takes mobile users back with a non-mobile-optimized site that disappoints,” said Jeff Hasen, Seattle-based mobile marketing consultant.

“Magazine readers who go there have no clear path to educate themselves, learn more about the products and, most importantly, buy,” he said.

“Rather than drive purchases, I think that it puts a huge hurdle in the way.”

In addition to the comment made above, I don’t believe luxury marketers need to “up” their strategy to engage consumers with QR Codes, as much as they need to simply “think about and plan” their strategy more from the consumer’s perspective. Great that a purchase option is offered, as this should be considered a best practice, but if it’s not easy to make the purchase on a non-optimized mobile site, how useful is this? Not a whole lot.

The company does do a good job placing the code, as upper left- and right-hand locations are most prominent, based on left- or right-hand ad placement, but code placement is only half of the equation, the other being call-to-action. Enough said.

Lastly, if the company knows that most consumers will not purchase a luxury watch online, whether it be off a desktop, tablet or mobile phone, how does the company go about breaking down this resistance? What hurdles are being removed and, by the same token, what incentives or rewards are being given?  From what I can see, none across the board.


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