Top 10 luxury brand mobile apps of H1

MobileMarketer notes:

Ritz-Carlton app

It used to be that luxury brands created mobile applications just to gain visibility in a growing market, but marketers have stepped it up a notch to truly let consumers into their world.

Apps are a branded hub of information that consumers can take everywhere they go. Consumers can shop, look at unique content and share the brand with friends and family in their on-the-go lives.

Here are the best luxury brand mobile apps of the first half of 2012, in alphabetical order:

Bloomingdale’s Big Brown Bag app

Bloomingdale’s – Department store chain Bloomingdale’s rolled out an iPhone and Android app to let fashion-savvy consumers shop the latest trends, as well as check prices and read product reviews.

Via the Big Brown Bag app, consumers can find the nearest location to learn more about in-store events and special offers.

The app also lets consumers create and manage their wedding registry and shop from the registries of their friends and family.

The in-store bar code scanner lets customers view additional product details and read customer reviews.

Additionally, consumers can manage their Loyallist rewards points and pay their Bloomingdale’s credit via the app.

The app also lets customers find discounts and promotions and scan products in-store to view available promotions.

The Big Brown Bag app joins the other Bloomingdale’s family of apps including the 59th Street iPhone app which launched in January, and the Bloomingdale’s iCatalog app for iPad which debuted in August.

Christian Louboutin app

Christian Louboutin – French footwear label Christian Louboutin is showcasing collections and designer sketches in its first iPhone app that acts as a to-go guide to the brand.

The free app lets consumers view shoes and handbags from the current collection, add products to an in-app wishlist, share images via Facebook, Twitter and email and locate a retailer.

The label is also sharing product videos, sketches of its 20th Anniversary Capsule Collection and brand news.

The Louboutin app is available worldwide for the iPhone and iPod touch from Apple’s App Store. It acts as a digital touch point for Louboutin fans, per the brand.

The home screen of the app contains six squares arranged in three rows of two. Each square leads to a section including Collection, Video, 20 Ans, What’s New, Wish List and Store Locator.

The Collection section shows the spring/summer 2012 collection as well as available women’s shoes, men’s shoes, women’s bags and accessories. Users see Louboutin shoe boxes as each product image loads in the app.

Users can click on a product to go to a larger image. In this view, they can read a product description, add an item to the in-app wish list and share via Facebook, Twitter or email.

De Beers wedding jewelry app

De Beers – De Beers is stepping up to its competition through an app for the iPhone and iPad that serves as a wedding jewelry finder as well as a consultant on diamonds and the brand.

Consumers can look at engagement rings, wedding bands and jewelry, but there is also access to videos and other details about the De Beers brand, history, design and the diamonds it uses.

When consumers search through the De Beers collection to choose an engagement ring, they can add it to their favorites, share with a friend or move to the next section, which is matching the ring to a wedding band.

Consumers can look at the two rings on the same screen as they try to make a match. When the wedding band is chosen, users can put the two rings together to see how they look next to one another.

There is also the option to complete the purchase with an eternity band – mostly used for anniversaries – or wedding day necklaces, earrings and bracelets.

Other luxury jewelers such as Tiffany & Co. and Cartier have developed apps to aid in the search for the ideal wedding jewelry, however, the De Beers app is unique in a few different ways, per the brand.

The first is the expert guidance and service. In a section called The De Beers Difference, the brand gives access to its diamonds, designs and craftsmanship through content and videos.

Another important aspect of the app is that De Beers strives for repeat usage. Consumers may keep coming back to select jewelry and eternity bands for other important moments in their lives.

Also, the fact that De Beers purposely did not make the app commerce-enabled ensures that consumers will come into the store to purchase.

Z Zegna app

Ermenegildo Zegna – Ermenegildo Zegna launched a new app for the iPhone and iPad that offered two exclusive products following the live streaming of its spring/summer 2013 show.

The Z Zegna Experience app was designed to focus on the preparations surrounding the new Z Zegna fashion show on June 25 that live-streamed within the device.

Z Zegna streamed content for tech-savvy fashion followers in anticipation of the new collection.

Consumers had the ability to buy two exclusive products – a hybrid classic city shoe and a leather iPad case – when they appeared on the runway. A few luxury marketers are offering product buys from the runway, but not many of them offer delivery this quickly.

Lexus GS app

Lexus – Toyota Corp.’s Lexus introduced its new GS 350 model with an app that sets competing models side-by-side so consumers can see differentiating features from both vehicles.

The Lexus GS app was created by Lexus College, which is a department that is responsible for dealer training. The app is available for iOS 5 users in Apple’s App Store.

There are three key factors that differentiates this Lexus app from others. The first is the competitive comparisons feature.

The app allows consumers to position the GS and its competitor side by side or stacked on top of one another.

Another differentiating feature is the key takeaway. Each vehicle hotspot has a key takeaway, which provides the salesperson a quick key selling point, per the brand.

Consumers can also use the “favorites” option to go back to vehicles quickly after they have left the app.

Maserati Passion app

Maserati – Italian automaker Maserati released an app for the iPhone called Maserati Passion to help broaden its mobile presence and deepen engagement for both affluent buyers and aspirational consumers.

Maserati Passion acts as a dealer locator, news source, social media community and car configurator. It is available for free in Apple’s App Store.

Maserati Passion is split into sections pertaining to models, community, news, dealerships and models.

The model section includes individual pages on the GranCabrio Range, GranTurismo Range and Quattroporte Range.

Tapping on an individual car’s page brings up detailed model information, a photo gallery and a link to the car configurator.

Consumers can also tap on the audio and video section to watch the models in action or listen to the sound of the transmission. Users can send these features via email to friends.

The Maserati app includes a dealer locator that uses the iPhone’s GPS to find a brand dealership via the user’s location. Consumers can also choose to find one by country or address.

The car configurator allows consumers to design their own Maserati by choosing colors, rims, tops and callipers. Users can save their designed model into their iPhone photo library.

Users can also opt to sign up for brand emails, check out Maserati social media sites and send messages about the app to friends.

Neiman Marcus in-store app

Neiman Marcus – Department store chain Neiman Marcus launched a new experience in four of its U.S. locations that serves to heighten customer service and the in-store atmosphere with a personal shopping mobile app.

The NM Service app works on a few different levels.

To help entice consumers in-store, the app will send users information about new arrivals and store events.

There are targets set up around store entrances that make the app live. When this happens, consumers get notifications for new arrivals, store events and the salespeople working that day.

Consumers can choose to link with sales associates, who will know if they want to try on certain items in the dressing room or need any additional help.

The Neiman Marcus app increases its usefulness by acting as a QR code reader.

Neiman Marcus places signs and stands around the store that indicate the season’s new trends. If users scan the code, they are able to see all of the items in the Neiman Marcus location that pertain to that particular trend.

NM Service will also work from a salesperson’s point of view.

Neiman Marcus sales associates are able to gather more inventory on customers and store them in their iPhones for easy access. This will allow salespeople to more accurately help consumers piece together outfits or recommend products based on how well they know the shopper.

Ritz-Carlton app

Ritz-Carlton – Hotel chain Ritz-Carlton is stepping up to competitors that are already in the mobile game with an application that uses GPS, social media, a QR scanner and special tips from the company president.

The app has basic functions such as booking reservations and accessing more information about a particular location and gives access to its calendar of events.

A smartphone uses GPS to figure out at which hotel the user is staying. It uses it to reveal cultural, sightseeing, dining and shopping tips.

Consumers can look at new tips from Ritz-Carlton president Herve Humler, who has compiled his favorite places at each Ritz-Carlton location such as a secluded garden in Sanya or a Viennese crystal chandelier in Doha. To access these, consumers can scan a QR code at check-in.

Ritz-Carlton also rolled out mobile offers for specific locations to collaborate with the app launch.

For example, at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, consumers can participate in a cultural art tour led by QR codes to learn more about the hotel’s art collection.

Starwood Preferred Guest app gives content based on location

Starwood Hotels & Resorts – Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ Preferred Guest program updated its mobile application to create a seamless, guest-centric experience for all nine of its brands, including St. Regis and The Luxury Collection.

SPG’s app updates include content based on whether or not the user is planning, en route or already checked-in to a specific hotel. It is available for free in Apple’s App Store for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

The newest update includes quite a few new features, particularly a new user interface that aggregates a user-specific look and content based on the consumer’s booking and staying process.

The personalized “My Stay” interface allows fully-integrated booking, member information, hotel searches, travel details, FaceTime customer service and social media.

The updates are aligned with new SPG policies including 24-hour check-in and check-out, lifetime status and Starwood ambassadors.

Detailed information, photo galleries, transportation options, weather and local attractions are available for each hotel at each of Starwood’s brands when consumers are in the booking and researching process.

Starting 48 hours before a guest’s stay, a push notification is sent and rearranges the interface to become reflective of the specific brand and property.

When consumers are at the property, they can check-in on foursquare and other social media, hotel information and room number and on- and off-property dining and activity suggestions.

To appeal to a wider range of consumers, the SPG app will be updated throughout 2012 with additional versions in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian and Spanish, claims the brand.