We sell luxury, and our customers need to feel that luxury in all our communications. Lucia Nadal is Communications and Brand Manager of B & B Italia, the luxury Italian furniture brand. Through the course of your career what has been the biggest change for you in media? The Internet and mobile communications, no question.
What is the most important media now? For B & B Italia the most important media is print, and that covers both publishers and our own catalogue and brochures. We’ve never used TV or broadcast media. Our brand has become established through lifestyle magazines and word of mouth.
Google and Amazon both achieved global awareness using the Internet. Can other companies follow their model, or are they the exception? They are the exception, but it is also the trend. They are web-based companies and in some ways they belong in that medium. Of course every type of company can use the Internet, but these two companies were a part of what made the Internet relevant to people.
With new technologies like the iPad for reading documents, will digital ever replace print? For us digital media cannot ever fully replace print. We sell luxury, and our customers need to feel that luxury in all our communications. At the moment print is the only medium that can truly, tangibly express the level of luxury and quality of our actual products. It comes though not just in the photography, but in the feel of the paper, the weight of the book. It’s a complete sensory experience. We use digital communications as part of our media mix, but it can’t replace print for our brand.
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Can you think of a brand that is excelling particularly at integrating all media channels? For me it’s Mini. Their media mix - from the TV to print and web, and the innovative use of the media all made the core values of the brand very clear and distinctive. They stand out for me.
Do you ‘tweet’? No. Personally I’m not interested in publicising my activities every moment of the day. People keep telling me to be on Facebook but I don’t feel the compulsion.
What is the role of social media for brands? People’s conversations that used to be on the phone, around the kitchen table, or in letters, are now online. And much of it is public. Social media has provided a platform to make communications visible, searchable, and international. The challenge for brand owners is to try and use this platform to influence in a positive way how much and how people talk about their brands.
“I’d like to be able to make a beautiful, limited edition or unique, personalised book for each B & B Italia customer.” Why are consumer brands quicker to use social media over business-to-business brands? I think business-to-business brands are perhaps hesitant; they have other priorities. The end consumer is always priority number one for consumer brands, and they know their audience is online. For business-to-business communications, other media are more reliable for targeting prospects. They know who their trade customers are. As the trade communities become more specialised business-to-business communication will grow.
Who is giving the advice to your customers on creating better print work? We have an in-house creative studio and we work directly with printers, so we’ll ask their advice. Printers are not proactive towards us. It’s a traditional industry and they wait to be asked. They are focused on production, they do not see themselves as consultants.
What is the next evolution in print that you would like to see? I’d like to be able to make a beautiful, limited edition or unique, personalised book for each B & B Italia customer. Basically a brochure with the quality and luxury of our furniture. Does a luxury brochure need to cost as much as luxury furniture?