No°5 Challenges for Luxury

Luxury was late to the game.

luxury-brands-social-media-zeitgeist_502917d2ddd12_w1500.jpgWith 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:

gisele-chanel-no-5.jpgChallenge 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”

  • luxury.jpgOne 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.




  1. alinacasari · ·

    Awesome blog post!! I think it’s really interesting to consider how luxury brands interact with customers through social media. I completely agree that they need to have great content, rather than just an overload of posts. Quality over quantity seems like a beneficial social rule for luxury brands to follow. Huge fan of how you numbered the mistakes!

    The quote that you chose about exclusivity and inclusiveness is very relevant to the quality of social media posts. I am often confused when I see designer brands with less than stellar social media marketing. I think the lower quality posts take away from the exclusivity that the brands have worked hard to create. I also wonder how brands who kind of straddle the line between luxury and non-luxury change their social media posts to adjust for their position that is neither ordinary nor luxury.

  2. mashamydear · ·

    Really liked the point you brought up about non-consumers affecting a brand’s reputation– reminded me of when Porsche made a major brand extension with the Cayenne, and all the negative feedback it received from people who didn’t even own a Porsche! It’s also interesting that the second biggest mistake luxury brands commit through SM is not using enough video content! I always equated pictures with Instagram more so than videos, and from my personal experience I realized that my pictures get way more likes than videos! I guess it makes more sense for luxury brands however, seeing as they can post clips from fashion shows or commercials.

  3. Great post. Clever angle. Well done!

  4. holdthemayo4653 · ·

    Interesting and original post, we haven’t discussed how to address different customer segments with social media. I agree that luxury brands have more to lose with a poorly placed social media campaign. Most marketers use social media to boost brand image, luxury brands use it almost to keep up with consumers and hope that their approach doesn’t deteriorate their strong brand image. Besides the content, great use of formatting and supporting images in your blog.

  5. Jenny C. · ·

    Aside from the fact that I thought your title was super clever, I think you’re right in the sense that we’ve entered a new generation where brand loyalty and prestige are no longer assured as the top differential values that luxury brands should focus on marketing. With so many brands and so many social media resources that we can rely on to make our purchasing decisions, it doesn’t make sense for me to invest in a liquid lipstick from fancy brands like Lancome when Colourpop not only is cheaper, but utilizes the right social media outlets to give the brand its reputation for providing high quality products. Your blog really pushed me to reflect on how millennials, including myself, are being heavily influenced through social media and how it’s no longer us wanting luxurious things; it’s these luxurious brands catering to us now.

  6. fernaneq4 · ·

    While I do agree that luxury brands will have to perfect their social media marketing tactics, the older generations aren’t affected by those campaigns. Coming from the South, I have seen how the older generation are very caught up with luxury items and will remain loyal to the name brands. They rather spend the extra money on the real luxury brands than purchase the same quality generic brands. They see it as a status item. It’ll be interesting to see how all of this will change as the new generations grow older and care less about the brand name and more about the quality (as it should be). Great post!

  7. Luxury brands have a lot to lose, but I believe that brand loyalty will help them overcome the challenges they face. I see it all the time, where I think something looks ridiculous and over priced, but just because it has a certain brand associated with it, the consumer will pay crazy prices. Pivoting back to social media, I believe the content needs to be top notch. Consumers don’t just want mass amounts of content. They want quality over the quantity.

  8. Great post, as proven by the insightful comments that followed it!

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