In an amazing move, luxury brand Oscar de la Renta launched F-commerce (Facebook e-commerce) that encapsulates an entire transaction for the customer without leaving the FB interface.

As luxury brands were notoriously slow to adopt the interwebs in the first place, this is a pioneering move from a brand that really isn’t that accessible to the mass market.
Interestingly, they chose a relatively low-priced item (a $65 perfume ring) that could have more mass appeal than, say, a cocktail dress that might set you back three grand or more, depending on its detail.*

You, too, can own ODL for only $3000 at Neiman's. Contrast that with a $65 ring on FB.

I find this a fascinating choice for the Oscar brand. Clearly their core customers along with plenty of “aspirationals” follow the brand on FB; however, the savvy ODLR strategists knew that going to FB with a $12,000 price point a la Bulgari would be a bust.**

Even more fascinating is that it appears (finally) that luxury*** realizes its evangelists (in all income ranges) are a key factor in their continued success, and the success of their licensing deals.

It would appear from the verbiage used by the ODLR peeps that they have been reading “Delivering Happiness” and “Blue Ocean Strategy” among others and borrowing ideas from the tech startup world.

From the Business of Fashion article on the topic:

“Increasingly for us, it’s not so much about numbers but developing evangelists and engaging people that are real brand ambassadors. We want to echo about Oscar around the internet, and we want to find fans and really make sure they are deeply engaged, and ultimately – [although it’s] a little bit up in the air, we want them to be customers. Everything we do is oriented towards business, but the first thing we need to do is get people engaged, and then we will find out how best to commercialize this engagement,” Bolen said.

As a former lululemon ambassador and with friends whose job titles may include the term Chief Evangelist, the ambassador concept is not new.

But it’s incredibly new for luxury.

For luxury brands, this move is pioneering; a sea change.

Luxury brands used to operate from on high, using astronomical prices, artful imagery and gallery-like stores to keep their rarified worlds from being penetrated by the proletariat.

The intimidation factor was high.

Now, it seems that at least Oscar is rolling out the red carpet to every E!-watching, US Weekly-reading girl out their who dreams of an Oscar de La Renta wedding gown (maybe $10k or more) so that she can get her fix and share her status (pun intended) on Facebook.

Brills, ODLR, brills.

My prediction: a hipper/younger diffusion line, an increase in licensing, and more F-commerce is coming. They’ll be a model for the luxury industry.

* Full disclosure: the pieces of ODL I’ve purchased have been 70% to 90% off at my favorite brick&mortar.

** on Bulgari’s FB app

*** At least ODLR. And I don’t count Longchamp as a true luxury brand, though they are doing a good job of using FB to engage their own evangelists…so is Rebecca Minkoff for that matter.