(Article by Hassib Nasseri)
The world of Advertising, PR and Marketing is changing at a lightening speed. Some brands have adapted to these changes very well, some have closed their eyes; hoping it would go away, whilst others are left somewhere in between. With the rapid rise of social media, which is now the number one use of the web, we are now living in an era where brands are marketing their products and services through their customers rather than at them.
This significant shift is perhaps more relevant to luxury brands with a lot of aspirational customers than any other type of brand. Some luxury brands such as Burberry, Gucci and Dior have utilised social media very well and have established a strong concrete online presence for themselves. These companies have made a significant investment in digital and as a result, are starting to see tangible and quantifiable returns. Just listen to Burberry’s former CEO;
“To anyone who is sceptical at all: you have to be totally connected with everyone who touches your brand. You have to create a social enterprise today. If you don’t do that, I don’t know what your business model is in 5 years.” – Angela Ahrendts, Burberry CEO
There seems to be a common misconception amongst marketers for those brands that have yet to embrace social, that luxury brands do not belong there. Luxury brands, by their very nature, are about exclusivity whereas social media is about engaging with the largest audience possible. However, the key issue that is often overlooked is that evoking desirability is crucial to keeping luxury alive. Luxury brands need aspirational customers in order to maintain the status of the brand.
The biggest problem with companies that haven’t yet learned to utilise social media effectively is the miss-conception that social media is used for marketing. Marketing in its core essence is all about pushing a message out; it’s about creating a noise. Social media is more like PR. It’s about managing brand reputation, building, nurturing and maintaining a deeper level of connection with customers. Marketing is a one-way communication whereas social media is a two-way conversation. Without social media, brands and customers are strangers.
In the luxury industry, there is an identifiable trend amongst the brands that are successful. The biggest driver of revenue for luxury brands is word of mouth. For luxury brands, the companies that are most successful are the ones that gain exposure for their products through their customers. They instill and evoke emotions into them that drive a strong level of engagement. This engagement drives targeted and valuable exposure, which has the same affect as word of mouth recommendation.
There are a wealth of established and rising social platforms each offering luxury brands a unique way to engage with customers and showcase their superior products and services; developing and nurturing long lasting relationships along the way. However, what the majority of luxury brands fail to do is respect the context of each platform as well as contexualise their content accordingly. They are not utilising the social tools available that will help them understand their audience better and hence identify the most effective ways to target them. They don’t have a cohesive digital strategy and fail to allocate resources in the areas needed. They are not being reactive and pro-active in their approach and as a result fail to envision the changing trends and rising opportunities that could help them break through the noise differentiate themselves.