44% of Prestige Brands Have “Feeble” Mobile Presence

A new report by L2 measures the mobile competence of the top 100 “iconic prestige brands” with Sephora emerging as the winner. The report looked at mobile sites, apps, marketing, and innovation & integration for each brand, and grouped them into categories of genius, gifted, average, challenged or feeble based on the evaluation.  A whopping 44% of these prestige brands were categorized as “feeble” within the study’s rankings, revealing a “significant, widespread underinvestment in mobile.” Only 14 brands were classified as “gifted” or “genius” in the study results.

Mobile is huge, with m-commerce sales set to quintuple over the next five years and with more users accessing the Internet wirelessly (via mobile) than from a wired Ethernet connection by 2015. Retailers stand out as being more likely to adopt mobile-friendly features; half of the 14 top-rated prestige brands in this study were retail brands.

Percent of Prestige Brands With Mobile Presence via L2 Prestige 100 StudyTwo-thirds (66%) of prestige brands maintain a mobile-optimized site, vs. Google’s estimate that only 21% of advertisers have mobile-friendly sites. A respectable 70% of prestige brands have a mobile app.  Slightly over half (52%) have both, while 16% have neither – no mobile app or site.  Iconic brands including Hermes, Bottega Veneta and Marc Jacobs rely exclusively on their traditional site experience, which often may not work well with mobile.

Mobile-friendly sites

Out of the prestige brands that do have a mobile-friendly site, 67% of those sites are m-commerce enabled.  However, many of these mobile-optimized sites are lacking functions present on the main site, including videos, product search and user ratings. And for one-third of these sites, mobile commerce is lacking.

Mobile apps

More than one third – 37% – of the prestige brands studied have a presence on both the iPhone and iPad, but only 16% have created a unique experience for iPad users.  The study classifies this as a missed opportunity, as iPad and other tablet devices “register high usage among affluent customers.”  According to L2, most of these brands have failed to adopt “platform-specific functionality” that keeps the user experience “sticky.” Less than one-third of apps provide integration with the iPhone’s GPS, only 17% include iOS notifications, and only 16% incorporate the phone’s camera.

Optimizing email for mobile

Over three-quarters (78%) of the brands studied engage in email marketing, but only 24% have links to mobile-optimized versions of their email content. More than half – 55% – simply provide links to plain HTML versions.  Brands also aren’t promoting their mobile-friendly content enough within their marketing emails: just 18% of brands with mobile sites have links to their mobile properties and only 19% of the brands with mobile apps include download links for that app.


Only 5% of Americans use geolocation apps at least once a month, but these active users represent a “high-value demographic” according to the report, with higher incomes and a greater willingness to share product information. Just 27 brands in the study maintain an official Foursquare page, five of which had no recent activity.

Being prepared for mobile search

While Google searches from non-computer devices make up only 7% of traffic in the US, 14% of global monthly Google searches for brands in this study originate from mobile devices. The L2 data reveals that few of these brands are customizing their SEO efforts for mobile platforms. When searching via mobile, only 13% of these prestige brands have links to their mobile presence on the first page of Google returns.

Promoting mobile from the main site

Mobile Efforts Are Not Cross-Promoted By Prestige Brands via L2 StudyWhile 82% of Prestige 100® brands link to their Facebook pages and 66% link to their Twitter accounts from their main website, only 28% of the brands in this study (that have mobile apps) promote those apps on the brand’s main site. Just three brands maintain custom tabs on Facebook dedicated to mobile properties.

When L2 examined 50 consecutive wall posts on Facebook for each brand, 24 brands linked to mobile apps, 3 linked to their mobile sites, and 9 linked to other mobile properties (Foursquare, Instagram).  A sample of 100 consecutive tweets showed even lower numbers: just 14 brands linked to their app in the iTunes Store, 3 linked to their mobile site, and 12 linked to other mobile properties.

Obviously, many of these prestige brands have a long way to go in getting up to speed with their mobile offerings.  So what makes a brand a winner in the mobile category? Mobile IQ winner Sephora boasts a number of great mobile-friendly features, including:

  • a mobile site with: product videos organized by content type and filterable by brand, a GPS-based store locator, shopping list creator, order history/tracking, and mobile-exclusive offers
  • an iPhone app with a “Beauty Advice” section, “Try It On” — a tool that allows the user to adjust skin tone and nail polish color on a virtual hand, and barcode scanning functionality to help with in-store shopping
  • an iPad app featuring how-to videos with a side-by-side mirror powered by the device’s camera — users can see their own faces while following makeup application instructions

Will brands step up to the plate and ramp up their mobile-friendly options as m-commerce continues to grow? If marketers are paying attention, there’s a clear opportunity for brands in mobile sites, apps, geolocation and search.

Download the full report here: L2 Prestige 100® Mobile IQ report