One thing the smartest of luxury brands have in common is the effective use of social media. They know that success in this digital age requires social engagement.
Many premium brands, however, have been slow to adopt assuming social’s accessibility would dilute their luxury image. Others have not committed the resources necessary maintain a viable presence. With 73% of online adults utilizing social media and an 18%-use increase expected this year, it is a platform of billions of users not to be overlooked.
So, what premium brands are getting it right on social media? And what exactly are they doing?
Brands of all types were excited when Instagram announced it would begin integrating advertising last fall. Early adopter Michael Kors posted the first ad to the photo-sharing site in November:
Kors’ ad invited users to experience Parisian pampering with the Emery Three-Hand Glitz watch. Though some were displeased by the ad, it won the brand 34,000 new followers and 218,000 likes in its first 18 hours.
Of the 218,000 likes, 20% expressed interest in purchasing the product, potentially yielding Kors $10 million in single-ad revenue. With new ads coming to Facebook and other social networks, Kors will likely continue its run in social ad leadership, giving us more enchanting imagery and video in the coming months.
The paparazzi-style noise and lack of exclusivity has deterred some high-end brands from utilizing archetypes like Facebook and Twitter. Fortunately, these are not the only roads to social.
Mercedes-Benz capitalized on the lure of exclusivity with the creation of Generation Benz, an invite-only online community with accompanying iPhone and Android apps. Member perks have included Benz-sponsored events like product launches in Europe and tickets to the U.S. Open and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Members also utilize the platform to live-chat with Mercedes-Benz executives, which provides both brand and product feedback.
The company’s intent is to connect and cultivate the next generation (ages 19 – 35) of Mercedes owners and advocates. The private community allows Mercedes to conduct consumer research at a cost lower than through traditional means. In the process, they are deepening brand loyalty — a trait many millennials lack.
Burberry entered the social media game early with its 2009 “Art of the Trench” campaign. Built as a standalone platform, the campaign encouraged fans to post, share and rate selfies featuring the brand’s iconic trench coat.
The results: Burberry’s Facebook following surpassed the million mark (largest in the luxury market at the time), and the campaign’s CTR helped produce a 50-percent growth in ecommerce year over year.
Burberry continued its stride becoming the first to live stream from London’s Fashion Week in 2011. Clips from this and similar events, beauty/fashion tutorials, and behind-the-scenes looks keep their 100,000+ YouTube channel subscribers engaged.
Burberry’s digital-heavy strategy is a part of a decade-long initiative aimed at rejuvenating the 157-year-old British fashion house brand. More than 16.8 million Facebook fans and 2.6 million Twitter followers later, sales have doubled and stock value grown 300%. Their success to date has been a result of a creative thinking culture and a willingness to make big bets on media innovation — reportedly spending greater than 60% of its marketing budget on digital media.
Twitter can been a tough nut for many businesses to crack. Upscale hotel chain Four Seasons has had some success, however, with a localized strategy. The brand manages @FourSeasons, their corporate account, along with 50+ accounts ranging Los Angeles (@FSLosAngeles) to Buenos Aires (@FSBuenosAires). Their community managers engage daily with users, replying to questions, retweeting comments and photos, and sharing news and photos of properties across the globe.
Additionally, they’ve learned the mastery of 1) promoting products and services gracefully, 2) responding to consumers quickly, and 3) monitoring and reacting to brand mentions.
Promote gracefully. Flooding your Twitter timeline with promotions for your products or services is Twitter faux-pas. @FourSeasons shares its local promotions occasionally and gracefully in the example below:
Respond quickly. Twitter, and every other social medium, is an extension of your customer service. Speedy responses are critical to maintain a seamless brand experience. In an example below, the hotel chain replied – within 24 hours – to a Twitter user wondering whether there was a Four Seasons in Sochi:
Stalk and get personal. Your brand mentions, that is. Four Seasons utilizes a brand monitoring software that notifies its community managers of “Four Seasons hotel” and similar mentions. Both positive and negative mentions, made on websites and via social media, can then be addressed allowing the brand to become an active manager of its brand image. In example, @FourSeasons replied to this user, who tweeted from the San Francisco Four Seasons:
The Italian carmaker debuted the Ghibli, the first Maserati to sell for under $100,000, during the Super Bowl this year. Though it wasn’t a social media move, per se, it did improve the brand’s social clout.
Kelley Blue Book searches for Maserati went up by 700% after the ad aired, while specific searches for the Ghibli went up 4250%. And the commercial, which stars 12-year old Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, is the stuff that viral videos are made of — the cinematic spot already has over 2 million views on YouTube.
Does the Super Bowl ad mark the beginning of a more social marketing strategy for Maserati? It’s likely. The brand has been actively promoting the video on social media, and its Facebook likes spiked in the days following the big game.
There’s no question about it. Social is the future of marketing, even for luxury brands.
When done well, luxury digital marketing is founded on a clear positioning statement, driven by consumer insights, and integrated into a multichannel marketing plan. Strategic marketers identify where their primary audience is spending their time online and respond by providing valuable solutions and meaningful interactions within those channels. Whether through open or private communities, social gives companies the ability influence consumers at their fingertips.
Premium brands should take notes from these winners before getting left behind.
Contributing author Kimberly Barnes (madwhit.com)
Based in Israel, Paddy Mergui has come up with an intriguing series that explores what it would be like if luxury brands packaged and sold everyday groceries.
Titled ‘Wheat is Wheat is Wheat’, this exhibition “is meant to highlight the challenges a designer faces when tasked with promoting economic interests while remaining true to his or her own moral compass.”
Viewers will do a double take when they see a packet of yogurt with the trademark blue packaging of Tiffany & Co., while Versace’s eggs are covered in a sleek black case—through these juxtapositions, Mergui is exploring why the look of certain brands seem more highbrow to us, and the parts that designers have had to play in crafting a brand’s image.
“As designers we are constantly recruiting our worlds to create changes in product conception and values. The engagement in image and creating meaning is the heart of the visual communication field,” the former designer said.
It is important to remember that Mergui is not criticizing these brands—he is criticizing consumers and the values that we have attributed to these luxury brands, urging us to re-examine our need to be associated with highbrow labels.
Have a look at this playful series below—what do you think of it?
Mergui’s artworks will exhibited at The Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco from now till 15 June 2014.
We’re in the midst of building a more robust case study for this enjoyable client, Total Investment Management. However, we’d like to share a few samples of the branding work we’ve developed during the engagement we completed with them recently. Thus far, the client has been more then pleased, client reactions have been fantastic and most interesting perhaps is the chatter within the industry for a financial services firm who developed such a unique and stunning presentation layer to their brand.
Total Investment Management solely focuses their service offering within the airline industry so this is important to note due to the heavy use of aviation themed assets within their brand architecture. Further, this client’s goal was to present themselves as the premier provider in their niche which is precisely why they chose KODA as their agency of choice. While Phase 1 of the brand engagement has been completely successfully, we are already slated to begin discussions for a Phase 2 to further develop their marketing strategy.
Feel free to take a peek at their website on your desktop as well as mobile phone or tablet to see how we leveraged the responsive framework in order to ensure an optimized user experience regardless of the device a user is browsing the site with. (mobile phone, tablet, desktop, etc.).
Internal Page Sampling