Luxury brands and social media are a combination that has not been a love affair. Some feared diluting their elite and exclusive community. Another concern is that luxury is not just a product, it’s an experience. Consumers need to see and feel luxury with their own eyes and hands. They want first-class service, personalized design and unique touches unavailable elsewhere. This need for a “touch point” is precisely why retail outlets have traditionally been so essential to a luxury brand. It’s not a “feeling” conveyable online.
Having said that, luxury brands are slowly embracing social media. Louis Vuitton’s approach to luxury bears watching. The brand’s Twitter page doesn’t necessarily tout product. Instead, it gives followers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Louis Vuitton’s world, insight formerly reserved for the most privileged. It keeps followers current on new product launches, progressive collaborations, exclusive images, celebrity sightings and details from private events. The aim is to offer even more customer service to current clientele, but also to cast a wider net to a broader audience – untapped markets all purveyors seek in these demanding times.
Burberry is the latest group to team up with social networking site, Facebook. They have launched a new website, The Art of the Trench, showing everyday people wearing a Burberry coat. Owners of trench coats and photographers are encouraged to send in photos with the best shots to be included on the site. Photos can be shared and commented upon as the website links directly to Facebook Connect, a program designed to support user engagement and interaction.
Ledbury Research’s analysis of Facebook presence shows how successful Burberry has been at connecting with this young generation, as measured by numbers of fans (c. 700,000). This is even more impressive given that the brand has about half the revenues of first-placed Louis Vuitton (750,000). Third and fourth place go to Abercrombie & Fitch and Ralph Lauren: accessible, fast-fashion and American brands, not least as a result of the US-bias towards Facebook users. We expect other large brands, such as Gucci and Armani (c. 500,000 and c. 200,000 respectively), will increase their efforts to catch up with the leaders and engage with the next generation of luxury consumers.
By: Chelsea Orth