If your brand’s identity is based on an aura of prestige, impeccable service and exclusivity, how do you maintain that quality in the current arena of social media?
Many luxury brands have a nagging fear when they think about this question: what if it cheapens your prestige?
Have things actually changed?
When Brandwatch was founded several years ago, the luxury industry showed little interest monitoring their social buzz and most didn’t even have a social media presence!
Executives saw it as “not very useful”, “risky” or even “a threat”. “Luxury and social media are incompatible”, they said.
This might not sound so surprising to you. After all, luxury is often created by scarcity, exclusivity in sales, and by distance between a brand and its customers.
Social media, on the other hand, is all about reaching the biggest audience possible (but can be targeted). It embraces diversity, gives individuals a voice, and allows them to connect, interact and share their experiences with any brand or person anywhere in the world; at no cost.
In fact, today’s digital generation expect brands to respond to queries instantaneously.
Such personal dialogue is problematic for your high-end brand, because the more you engage, the more you risk losing your mysterious image in the eyes of your customers, right?
Wrong! You’re making a mistake. At the very least, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity to learn everything there’s to know about your customers. Luxury and social media can indeed go hand in hand.
Let’s look at the stats
Reports suggest that high-end consumers are far more likely to communicate via social media than non-high-end consumers and luxury brands need to target them accordingly.
In particular, affluent 98% of consumers (with an income of <$250,000) who plan to buy luxury products use digital platforms to communicate, with 71% of specifically using social media.
Social media acts as an amplifier for the message. Carefully monitoring and analysing those conversations gives your luxury brands the chance to gain deeper insights into what your customers like – and dislike – and who’s talking about your brand.
What are their interests and professions? Where do they live? Why do they care about you?
It allows you to better understand the topics of conversation among specific segments of the audience for improved targeting.
If you’re launching a new luxury product, analysing social media conversations should be on top of your marketing plan as it’s trackable, measurable and actionable. Social media for luxury brands can provide beneficial, important and rich insights.
Burberry’s digital offering helped its retail revenue grow by 14 per cent to reach £528m over in one Christmas quarter.
Research from Emerson College’s Engagement Lab, suggests luxury brands performing well in social media engagement today often still lagged behind in word-of-mouth (WOM) performance.
At the same time, brands who performed well in the WOM arena were making less impact in social media.
Tiffany, Kate Spade New York, Valentino and Christian Louboutin were showing high eValue scores in the research, while Ralph Lauren and Gucci were top of the index for offline conversations.
Online and offline sharing is crucial for luxury brand success
The researchers concluded that both online and offline social sharing were crucial for growth in the luxury market – and the boundaries between them were becoming increasingly porous.
Brands that take advantage of this fluidity between social and WOM, they said, can create brand experiences that merge real and digital conversations, cutting through in incredibly powerful ways.
These are conversations that elicit desire, promote affinity and ultimately drive more sales than those taking place, exclusively, either on or offline.
Instagram’s “Label Lust” message comes alive
Last year Graziashop was among the first Instagram advertisers, now it leads the way with Instagram activity (part of its Label Lust campaign) designed to raise brand awareness and engagement through shared storytelling.
Graziashop used Instagram to post quirky, fun sponsored images and videos targeting 22–45 year old females in the UK with an interest in designer shoes, bags, fashion tips and blogging.
Over a six-week period the images followed the storyline of a Graziashop character. Showcasing selected products from the Graziashop range, the heroine truly inhabited the brand’s shopper lifestyle.
The campaign echoed the stories fashionistas tell themselves and each other about the products they dream about and acquire.
Tales of love at first sight, long distance love, the one that got away (when an item you really want is sold out) and falling head over heels with a pair of… heels.
Instagram delivers strong results
Instagram was exactly the right place for this kind of campaign with its hip vibe, massive reach and impactful 30-second video format, with social traffic peaking at 18% of overall website traffic during the campaign period.
But more than this, Graziashop’s Instagram campaign shows how using the right platform can lift a brand’s marketing message beyond the realm of social media.
As the Engagement Lab has pointed out, there is currently a huge opportunity in social to exploit the fluid boundaries between on- and offline to start passionate conversations that continue in the real world and lead to the sales counter.
They were one of the first brands to use Instagram when its paid advertising launched in the UK and has shown how Instagram, particularly, can make a brand message part of your audiences’ consciousness.
Delivering stories imaginatively with the creative use of native social tools can inspire your customers to tell their own stories in their own ways, but always with yours in mind.
Should luxury brands remain out of touch and exclusive?
I often hear comments that luxury brands should be exclusive, scarce, not “sell out” and that “true luxury brands do not care about shareholder value”. I couldn’t disagree more.
Luxury is about desirability, product excellence, exemplary service and fundamentally a brand promise.
If exclusivity and scarcity is the strongest value in a luxury brand that does not care about shareholder value, it won’t be a brand for long.
The continued proliferation of social media, live streaming, interactive apps and buyable shows at the various Fashion Weeks proves that everyone wants runway, today.
The inclusivity that social media gives to luxury fashion brands will continue to fundamentality change the way, and the very reason, for Fashion Week itself.
Even if they’re not buying, your customers want to talk to you and about you.
Working out when to sell to them and when to talk to them is part of the challenge of dealing with social media. But in reality every social interaction is an opportunity for engagement that may lead to a sale.
In luxury it is even more important to have a focus on social, with two-thirds of the target audience generating content on a regular basis and 15% doing that on a daily basis.
Whether using social media to maintain a beautiful customer service experience or storytelling the luxurious lifestyle of the Founder, brand or ambassadors; the conversation is happening, with or without you.
You can’t choose to opt out, but you can choose not to participate. Luxury and social media aren’t mutually exclusive.
Premium brands should embrace social media in response to online crises, to further connect with their influencers, and to learn everything all about their customers. Luxury and social media can create vast opportunity if collaborated together.
And remember, social channels are open to everyone. If you’re not in those social communities, somebody else will, and they will represent the brand for you.
For more information on how social media authority have helped luxury brands to maintain a clear and exclusive persona but drive engagement and maintain or increase market share via social media then contact us. We are now working with some of the largest global brands from Europe to help with market growth in Asia and the US to find out more email: firstname.lastname@example.org