Luxury was late to the game.
With the heritage, quality control and immersive shopping experiences that define luxury brands, engaging in social media communications seemed like an absurd concept for these brands. For the longest time, luxury brands believed that social media platforms were a mass phenomenon and did not concern their target audience. Fast-forward ten years… and this stereotype has disappeared. Today, with 75% of luxury shoppers using social media, according to a 2014 study by the Blackstone Digital Agency, a social media presence is unavoidable, and somewhat crucial for luxury brands. Today’s consumer are ‘always on’ and always looking for inspiration across multiple platforms.
But luxury has been and still needs to be weary of this fast change and what it means for their brands. According to retail experts, how a company is viewed online, by not only the target customers but by the general population, can have a significant impact on the brand. Therefore, even non-luxury consumers now have an impact on the success or failure of luxury brands. For example, what a BC freshman sitting in a college dorm says online may measure equal to the voice of a socialite from Paris. Over time,“a crowd of relative unknowns can create a tipping point for a product’s success or, if they so choose, failure”( Abrams Research).
To combat the digital free-for-all that is the Internet, companies must expand their online footprint of their brand and control the conversation. Luxury may have been late to the digital game, but now they must make a choice: either get involved in social media and influence the conversations themselves or lose control of the brand’s reputation in the crazy spiral of social media.
In a study conducted by Abrams Research, it was concluded that there are five main challenges luxury brands are facing online today:
Challenge n°1: Creating an online experience that meets or exceeds brand standards and consumer expectations
Challenge n°2: Relinquish some control (although hard for luxury brands to grasp this idea) to give consumers a sense of brand ownership via user-generated content.
Challenge n°3: Participating in two-way conversations with consumers.
Challenge n°4: Recognize that luxury brands require a more sophisticated social media presence than other brands.
Challenge n°5: Devote the apt resources to make social media a priority as a part of the overall marketing strategy.
“Each brand needs to strike a balance between exclusivity and inclusiveness,”– James Lovejoy, an analyst at Brandwatch
Although not complicated, these 5 challenges are easier said than done for many luxury brands. Social media marketing may be a simple and cheap channel for luxury brands compared to the money they invest in experiential marketing, but corners cannot be cut just because it is the Internet. A semi-functional website; a dead social media profile; a sponsorship that misaligns with the brand identity—will all cheapen the brand and contribute to the brand’s downfall. Due to the fickle nature of brand equity, any social media marketing done without a well-researched approach and full-scale commitment is highly risky. The fast adaptation of luxury brands to the social media world did not come without some “faux pas” along the way. In coping with the challenges listed above, luxury brands must be very tactful in their use of social media. In efforts to maintain their luxurious brand image, there are certain mistakes they should strategically avoid. Social media analytics platform, Talkwalker, has unveiled the three biggest mistakes luxury brands should avoid on social media:
Mistake n°1: Post Too Much – “Quality over Quantity”
- Top performers like Tesla and Cartier ensure each post was carefully crafted and timed for maximum impact.
- Luxury brands must focus on the presenting their brand in interesting and innovative ways, not posting an overload of poorly produced content.
Mistake n°2: Not Enough Video Content – “Lights. Camera. Action”
- One of the key factors behind Chanel’s social media victory over Dior was the brand’s successful video strategy (I worked in digital marketing at Dior, and I am tempted to tangentially argue this so-called “victory”… but will let it slide for the purpose of the blog).
- When Chanel had its Haute Couture fashion show, the brand successfully promoted the event by providing its social media fans with a unique VIP perspective. The video content was customized for each platform and prominently displayed the brand’s best ambassadors, such as Gwyneth Paltrow.
- On Twitter the video lasted 2.5 mins and drove 7,841 retweets and on Instagram it was just 14 seconds but generated 184,000 likes and 3,100 comments. Both posts were among Chanel’s top performing over the period measured.
Mistake n°3: Fail to Gather Competitive Intelligence – “Social Media Spyware”
- If you want to be successful on social, you need to know who your audience is and what content will give you an edge on your competition.
- Using their social media analytics, Talkwalker was able to determine that the Swiss luxury watchmaker Tag Heuer had a much more international audience than competitor Hublot, whose main audience is located in Switzerland. This type of social insight helps brands target campaigns more accurately to match audience interests.
While they may face many more challenges than the 5 listed above and certainly make many more mistakes than addressed, social media for luxury brands is no longer an optional marketing consideration. Challenges and mistakes aside, all major luxury brands must now present on social, trying to find new ways to engage with their fans and customers to build up brand perception.
The definition of a luxury consumer and of luxury itself has changed. Luxury brands must deliver brand experiences online to see continued success. As luxury brands continue to deepen their understanding of how these new tools can be used appropriately, brands can harness the power of social media to directly communicate with their audiences, promote their brands and further their brand equity.