Exclusivity is an important characteristic of luxury brands. Luxury brands have traditionally strived to create the ‘brand dream’ - a perception of distance between themselves and their customers. This makes social media engagement tricky as social is, by definition, the complete contradiction of exclusivity.
Many luxury brands have been cautious of using social media platforms, but as an ever-greater proportion of consumers come to be made up of digital natives, they are left with no choice but to get involved. The real question is how to stay relevant with a new generation of luxury consumers without diluting the brand image and compromising the exclusivity, heritage and core values.
Traditional luxury brands like Gucci, Prada, Christian Dior and Chanel have been using social media platforms more for high quality content and experiences than for interaction: they share narratives that flaunt their heritage, lifestyle and values in a way that remains aspirational and distant from the everyday reality of consumers.
Burberry, for example, uses Facebook more as a news source than an engagement platform. They post collections, campaign videos and exclusive offers; and keep their distance by not allowing the audience to post on the page.
Similarly, Rolex’s strategy is not to respond to any audience posts and their audience seems pretty okay with that one-sided ‘conversation’. Their Twitter and Instagram accounts are protected ‘by invite only’, meaning that they decide who can communicate with them. It keeps the brand exclusive and aspirational.
But not all luxury brands have remained aloof in the age of digital. Some have been bold enough to experiment with accessibility, interactivity and engagement.
The Mercedes-Benz “Build Your Own GLA” campaign, for example, invited all 1.3 million of their Instagram followers to customize the model to suit their individual preferences and needs. The campaign highlighted product features and benefits in a fun and interactive manner. Only once people had finished customizing their GLA, were the car details and price revealed. Consumers were then encouraged to take the image to the nearest dealership. The campaign reached a large number of people, including those who aspire to own a Mercedes-Benz and who didn’t realise the car was affordable and within reach.
Marc Jacobs created a virtual daisy chain community for its Daisy fragrance fans on Twitter and Instagram. With the hashtag #MJDaisyChain, consumers were asked “How do you daisy?” and they were encouraged to upload images that portray how the Daisy fragrance makes them feel. This created a sense of community and connectedness, as consumers interacted with the brand’s product and shared meaningful, personal experiences on the social platforms.
The abovementioned brands’ objectives were clearly to raise awareness of new products, and this was done with highly interactive and engaging social media campaigns.
“A good brand goes where its customers are. If it means taking your luxury brand online, on social media or on mobile – so be it” Rohan Ayyar, Entrepreneur Magazine, 2014
To stay relevant to digital consumers, traditional luxury brands need to be on social media. Here are a few rules to help do it luxuriously:
Luxury branding doesn’t mean avoiding accessible technology. It’s important to realise that social media can be used to reach large audiences of aspirational consumers and to create customer loyalty even within the luxury category. Social media is excellent for millennial engagement, product and brand education, storytelling, and purposeful and experiential marketing. Where Rolex and Burberry use social media for storytelling, Mercedes-Benz and Marc Jacobs wanted to create an experience. There is no set way of doing things, but it is possible to engage with social media and maintain a prestigious brand image. All it takes is a well-planned content strategy that’s strongly aligned to the brand’s core values and marketing objectives. Therefore, it’s a yay to social media!
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