Thursday, September 27, 2007

Follow-up on Armani store coming to SL

Yesterday I blogged that Armani had opened a store in Second Life, but that existing and newer fashion businesses shouldn't worry.

Well, here's further evidence of why that was true, and why famous real-world brands don't pose an automatic threat to purely in-world businesses.

During the day, a lot of Second Lifers tried to visit the Armani store to check it out--the one advantage a brand like that has purely because of its name.

This was a typical result, courtesy of the blog, Shopping Cart Disco:

"I’d like to tell you how spectacular the build is. To tell you about ALL THE AMAZING ITEMS you can purchase at their wonderful, well planned out SL location - because, well, they’ve had more than a year of research in SL to plan it out.

"But no, I’m here to tell you about another craptactular build by another (corporate) entity that didn’t bother whatsoever to think about how things really work in Second Life. To embrace the community. Without the community, SL builds are sure to fail, which results in the company dismissing Second Life as just another failed and crummy venture, when really - it was the corporation’s fault in the first place."

I couldn't have summed up the problem better myself. It's just that: A lot of companies are trying to ride the wave of interest in SL and jump right in, but they simply don't do the research on what it takes to succeed, or they hire the wrong development company to do the work for them.

In the case of Armani, we can now report, they simply blew it by populating their store with a paltry roster of products, and the products they did have are nowhere near as good as those available from dozens of existing SL fashion boutiques.

And, just like that, in one day, they've blown it. Their reputation is shot, and they've lost any advantage they had because of their name. Perhaps it was just a soft launch, but it is probably too late for them to recover their reputation in SL.

And, ultimately, that's the point: Whether you're a big real-life brand or a total unknown getting started in SL, you have really just one chance to, you know, "make a good impression."

If you do, word of mouth will be your best friend. If you don't, as in the case of Armani, it's your worst enemy.

And you'll have no one to blame but yourself if that happens.

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