Burberry: Social Media’s Luxury

Burberry-Beijing

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.

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Social Culture

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:

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.

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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.

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Partnerships

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.

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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.

Digital Innovation

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.

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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.

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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.

Lessons

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

5 comments

  1. Great final post, Brianne! I’ve really enjoyed reading your in depth analyses of major brands and their digital campaigns throughout the semester!

    Two similar quotes from your post that really resonated with me were, “…technological advancement is the definition of luxury.” & “…digital innovation is equated with a luxurious brand.” I think you’re onto something here. One would expect that further industry shift towards digital would give any brand, not just luxury ones, that have already become market leaders in the space a chance to raise their price points, without necessarily losing market share, because they are offering so much to the consumer, it seems fair to ask for a little extra “compensation” (revenue) in return.

    I’m picturing Nike in my mind, as I’ve seen their prices slowly, but consistently, creep higher and higher. It’s kind of an oxymoron to call any fitness brand a “luxury brand”, but I think Nike would be the closest thing to it, and it definitely relates to just how large of a web presence they have!

    Thanks again for the fun read!

  2. Awesome final post, Brianne! You did a fantastic job dispelling the misconceptions I had surrounding luxury brands embracing social and digital technology. Prior to reading your post, when I would think of luxury brands, my mind wouldn’t immediately go to social media. I would almost perceive brands like Michael Koors, Burberry, and Louis Vuitton as “too good” for a strong social media presence. I was definitely wrong!

    I’m especially impressed by Burberry harnessing Google’s face recognition software to capture a user’s lips to send “kisses” around the world. What a great way to add a sentimental feel to the brand (while also advertising their lipstick shades!) I think the ability to customize clothing is especially valuable for Burberry; it definitely gives the brand the upper hand against competition while also adding to their “high-end” feel. Curious to see what else Burberry has in store for the future!

  3. I really liked this blog. The efforts of Burberry are impressive. They’ve embraced the inevitable shift towards online marketing and have continued to be at the forefront of important advancements; you proved this well with examples like integration with the Twitter Buy button. Along this same route, I think synergies created through partnerships are always fascinating. For example, partnering with the Apple iPhone 5s made sense as both brands focus on a similar type of demographic. Additionally, partnering with Google help create an incredibly sharable social scheme, which is extremely difficult. As a side note, Angela Ahrendts’ leaving Burberry for Apple seems like a strong match of innovative talents.

  4. Hi Brianne, great post. I think you’ve highlighted some good examples of why this brand has made such a turn-around. Not too long ago I think the public perception was that it was somewhat stodgy. After embracing new media forms, Burberry has been able to transform its brand image. At the FutureM conference in Boston last year, the person from Google responsible for the Burberry Kisses campaign spoke about how quickly the idea took off, and what a fun and unique way it was to promote the product. Lastly, kudos on the very visual, engaging blog post itself- very easy to read and follow!

  5. Great post Brianne! I’m always thinking that should a luxury brand promote itself hard on social media and get along with its followers? Or should it just stand in a high position and keep cool and noble? Seems like Burberry chose the right way.

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