SOURCE: Luxury Institute

November 15, 2006 12:05 ET

Luxury Institute Survey: Wealthy Consumers Rank Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach and Louis Vuitton the Fashion Brands With the Most Effective Websites in 2006

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- November 15, 2006 -- Fashion designers have been unfashionably late to the Internet party but some designer brands are finally putting forth high-performance web sites. According to the Luxury Institute's 2006 Luxury Website Effectiveness Index (LWEI) for fashion designers, Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach and Louis Vuitton have the top-rated web sites. The LWEI incorporates four components of a luxury website's effectiveness: usefulness of content, ease of navigation, overall look and feel, and trust with personal information.

The survey measures the impact of the website on three critical "outcome" measures: exceeding visitor's expectations, willingness to recommend the site to people they care about, and improvements in the overall opinion of the brand as a result of the website experience. The research also captures consumer feedback, from those who found the site failed to meet their expectations, on how the website could be improved, as well as reasons consumers say their expectations were exceeded. Importantly, the survey measures the e-commerce experience when appropriate.

Although 1,600 wealthy consumers were surveyed about 18 leading fashion brands, only eight brands (Armani, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Coach, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Prada) had sufficient incidence of visits to be rated.

Polo Ralph Lauren's website is the winner in the 2006 LWEI for fashion designer brands. It also rates significantly above average for usefulness of site content, ease of navigation and trust in site security. Qualitatively, respondents say the site is "just what I wanted," and is "detailed, thorough, and very visual." Respondents like being able to search by brand, category, or general search. One person summed it up, "It was easy to find just what I was looking for. The process was smooth."

Coach ranks second overall among the eight fashion designer websites tested, and significantly above average for usefulness of content, ease of navigation and overall look and feel. Coach is also the designer site most visited by wealthy consumers in the preceding six months. Qualitatively, respondents say the site has a "great look and feel," is well organized, and easy to navigate. They like the site's "interactivity" such as the ability to "magnify items to check their quality."

Polo Ralph Lauren and Coach consistently score in the top two positions for each component indices, with two exceptions: Louis Vuitton displaces Coach for second place for "features I need" and Louis Vuitton again ranks second to Polo for "trust with personal information."

A nationally representative sample of 1,611 wealthy consumers was surveyed online. Respondents had an average household income of $298k and average net worth of $2.9m. Survey results are weighted to match the demographic and net worth profile of the same audience according to the latest Survey of Consumer Finances from the Federal Reserve.

About the Luxury Institute

The Luxury Institute is the uniquely independent and objective ratings and research institution that is the trusted and respected voice of the high net worth consumer. The Institute provides an impartial portfolio of proprietary publications and research that guides and educates high net-worth individuals and the companies that cater to them on leading edge trends, high net worth consumer rankings and ratings of luxury brands, and best practices. Publications include the monthly Wealth Report, the Luxury Brand Status Index surveys, the Luxury Best Practices surveys and the Luxury Consumer Experience Index surveys. To reach the Luxury institute, please call 646-792-2669, or go to www.luxuryinstitute.com.

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