Michael Kors Leads Most-searched-for Luxury American Fashion Brands

Michael Kors is the American luxury brand most sought out online, according to the Digital Luxury Group's (DLG) World Luxury Index American Fashion report.

DLG gathered data from more than 31 million searches conducted January through June 2012 via top search engines, including Google, Bing, Baidu and Yandex, to determine which luxury brands dominate consumers' mindshare.

The Michael Kors brand, established in 1981, made an aggressive push into the market with the rollout of KORS by Michael Kors and MICHAEL by Michael Kors. In 2010, the company got a boost from Kors' CDFA Lifetime Achievement Award, participation in the popular Project Runway show; and myriad physical store openings. By the close of 2011, the brand maintained 230 points of sale in 74 countries.

Rounding out the top 10 are a mix of youth-oriented contemporary brands and more established labels: Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Diane von Furstenberg, Betsey Johnson and Tom Ford.

Although the top five brands each have developed diffusion lines such as Simply Vera and CK and are benefitting from the increased consumer exposure, searches for those moderately priced lines were not included in tallying DLG's results.

Different strokes for different brands
So what, specifically, are shoppers searching for when it comes to luxury? Ready-to-wear fashions and handbags led all product categories worldwide, with 36.1 percent and 34.9 percent of searches, although demand for purses (50 percent) is even higher in China, where the hunger for status symbols is strong.

Each brand brings a particular strength to the table. While searches for Michael Kors focused on handbags (59.6 percent), brands such as Calvin Klein (50 percent) and Ralph Lauren (54.1 percent) are in demand for their clothing designs. Consumers overwhelmingly seek out Vera Wang for the label's fashions, with 89 percent of searches focused on ready-to-wear.

Boosting interest in BRIC countries
Not surprisingly, American luxury brands are well known and established in the U.S. but interest in these brands lags their European counterparts when it comes to searches conducted in Brazil, Russia, India and China. Only 7.5 percent of BRIC searches are for American luxury houses, compared with 30.5 percent for European labels.

Blueprint for success
According to the DLG report, Tory Burch's localization strategy may be responsible for the brand success in China, conducting extensive market research and strategically tailoring some of its luxury merchandise for the Chinese market, where it has been operating stores since 2011. For example, Tory Burch scaled down its popular Amanda satchel, introducing new colors such as coral and offering smaller clothing sizes.

For Calvin Klein, success in Brazil is a result of simply being in the market long enough. The report cites Phillips-­Van Heusen Group, which owns Calvin Klein as saying that Brazilians are the number-on international shoppers of the brand in the U.S., due in part to the brand's more than 10 years of operation in Brazil.

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