Luxury by another (domain) name

Luxury has become much more than a concept; it's a coveted commodity, a club to which even budget brands now crave entry.

The internet, conversely, has always been a place where everyone starts out equal - in theory, at least. You buy a small corner of digital real estate and hang out your shingle, presenting your goods and services in whatever manner you choose.

That's about to change with the imminent release of more than 1000 new top-level domains (TLD), ie. the name that sits to the right of the dot in a web address. Currently only 21 are in use globally, including the ubiquitous .com, .net, .biz, .org and .gov.

One of many new TLDs due for release this year is .luxury, a designation intended to leave consumers in no doubt that the preceding brand belongs to the much-desired top bracket.

Jeremy Ebbels, a spokesman for Melbourne-based ARI Registry Services which is acting on behalf of more than 100 applicants for the new TLDs, says entry to the .luxury club will only be by approval of the domain owner, US-based Luxury Partners LLC.

“They will be the ones who decide the pricing and policy and make the decisions,” he says.

Ebbels says the purpose of a 50-fold increase in top-level domains is to help browsers more easily identify content of interest to them.

“If I go and look for www.rolex.luxury, for example, I know what I'm getting before I get there. I have an association with the word luxury that informs me what I'm going to see before I get to the website or even the domain name,” he says.

But will brands that have become a byword for prestige, quality and exclusivity – the likes of Rolls-Royce, Rolex and Tiffany & Co – jump at the chance to associate themselves with the L-word?

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Several spoken to by Executive Style expressed reservations. “Why would we brand ourselves in such a way?” one asked. “Our product speaks for itself.”

Hugo Boss Australia spokeswoman Chauntel Scarr agreed. “I would say that Hugo Boss would not feel the necessity to align to a luxury domain as we have spent years building our brand into the luxury realm,” she says.

“To then brand it as luxury in a domain name seems unnecessary and forced. If it can be bought then it is usually not as it seems.”

On that basis, it appears far more likely that mid-range brands desperate to build reputation - and sales margins - will be first in the .luxury queue.