As one of the first luxury brands to adopt a social marketing strategy, Burberry is an example of how to effectively leverage digital for a business. Their goals include inspiring a broad consumer appeal, extending and strengthening the brand name around the world, and blurring the line between in-store and online experiences. Revenues have grown by an average 18% per year since 2010, solidifying proof of their excellent marketing tactics. Let’s take a look at how Burberry’s aggressive strategy of creating a social culture, forming key partnerships, and heavily investing in digital innovation has spurred this success.
In 2009 Burberry joined Facebook and their following has already grown to around 18 million, making them the most followed luxury brand on Facebook. Other social followings include:
- 4 million on Google +
- 3.4 million on Twitter
- 2.3 million on Instagram
- 138,000 on YouTube
- 118,000 on Pinterest
Across all platforms, the brand uses its accounts to showcase products, announce new store openings, enhance campaigns, and share behind the scenes content. Burberry seeks to engage consumers across all touch points, and achieve this by building a “brand world” online. As The Guardian explains “. . . luxury brands are no longer defined simply by rarity and price, reserved for the pleasures of the elite classes. Time has become the real luxury, with customers deriving pleasure and satisfaction from the moments of interaction with brand worlds, not just the products themselves.”
Therefore, Burberry delivers relevant content that captures the personality and exclusivity of the company. They specifically embody their iconic history, which is symbolic of all things British. This not only connects to the culture their core luxury customers love, but also entices the young aspiring consumer to become a part of the Burberry world.
Furthermore, in their drive for excellence and attempt to achieve an elite presence online, Burberry has created a separate Twitter account just to handle customer service. With unique responses being sent 24/7, the company does not fail to deliver on the luxury of timeliness.
In order to extend the brand’s reach and exert leadership in innovation, Burberry has made several strategic partnerships in the last few years. In 2013, the company partnered with Google in order to launch a romantic campaign known as Burberry Kisses. The campaign utilizes Google’s facial recognition technology to detect the outline of a user’s lips and the ability to apply different shades of Burberry Beauty lip color. The kiss can then be sent with a personalized message to anyone around the world. With over 253,000 Google searches, 13,000 cities sending a kiss within first ten days, and over 109 million miles “traveled” by kisses, Burberry certainly garnered engagement and an emotional attachment to the brand.
With the upcoming launch of the iPhone 5s, Burberry partnered with Apple to increase hype surrounding the phone and Burberry’s Spring/Summer 2014 fashion show. During the show, runway images were dynamically posted to 13 outdoor screens around the world, showcasing the iPhone’s camera while also giving a sneak preview into Burberry’s new womenswear collection.
Burberry then teamed up with mobile-messaging app WeChat at the Burberry Prorsum Autumn/Winter 2014 show. Users could personalize digital versions of items from the catwalk, and unlock exclusive content regarding the inspiration for the show. As a result, the show generated the most social media buzz in Burberry brand history.
Finally, in 2014, Burberry was one of the first brands to adopt the “Buy Now” button on Twitter. Consumers were offered real-time buying of Burberry products within their Twitter feed. This ability to purchase simply with the click of one button added to the seamless experience Burberry aims to offer.
Burberry currently spends over 60% on its marketing budget on digital, making a clear shift into the digital space. Kicking this innovative spirit off was the launch of Art of the Trench in 2009. Burberry created an independent social platform that encouraged Burberry customers to upload fashionable pictures of themselves wearing the iconic trench coat. Users could also comment, ‘like’, vote on, and share their favorite photos. With over 24 million page views in over 200 countries, Burberry leveraged their loyal consumers to generate content that appealed to both the luxury and aspiring segments.
The company also introduced Burberry Bespoke which allows consumers to build a custom trench coat with personal specifications. Users can change the color, sleeves, lining, buttons, and even add a monogram. Customers can then either buy the coat online, schedule an appointment with a specialist, or share their design on social media.
Burberry also introduced in-store iPads that allows customers to customize apparel. Additionally, the company has embedded items with digital chips that, when activated by shopper’s smartphones, will show a clip of the item’s story from sketches to creation. CEO Angela Ahrendts claims: “I do believe that we are absolutely light-years ahead of our peers because of the investments we have made in this space.” This digital integration in stores is certainly improving consumer service and further driving revenues, as Burberry has set the precedent that technological advancement is the definition of luxury.
- Create a brand world
- Burberry does not use its social marketing tactics solely to make money, but rather creates a personal customer experience that boosts brand awareness and strengthens emotional attachment.
- Reach the consumer across many touch-points
- Burberry created their own independent social platforms and leveraged key partnerships in order to garner unique engagement and generate social buzz.
- Stay ahead of the curve
- Burberry has achieved the status of a tech-savvy brand, setting industry standards that digital innovation is equated with a luxurious brand.
Burberry is a shining example of how to embody style, sophistication, and history in the digital space. They have certainly strengthened the Burberry culture with loyal and future consumers while simultaneously fostering economic success and boosting brand value.