Monday, September 12, 2011

Luxury Fashion & Social Media

The words Luxury and Exclusivity are often considered synonymous. As luxury brands increasingly feel more pressure to conquer marketing online, how do they remain desirable in a medium that is open to the masses?

It is widely perceived that the web isn’t a luxury market and brands face the dilemma of either embracing social media or being left behind. As people spend more money online, in order to make profit luxury brands must find a way to engage these consumers.

The biggest challenge that faces luxury brands when approaching social media is that luxury implies exclusivity and therefore the product shouldn’t be accessible to everyone. Social media sites make it more challenging to selectively choose whom to interact with. Furthermore, some brands are hesitant to try new marketing techniques, which might be risky to their established brand image. If done incorrectly, they risk ruining their brand reputation and diminishing the perception of affluence.

The solution for the luxury sector is to embrace social media: Just as product can be desirable and exclusive, so websites can be.

Burberry is a fantastic example of a brand who have created their own online community. Rather than shun Facebook and Twitter because of their mass audiences, Burberry has embraced them.

Burberry’s Facebook page boasts over 7 million followers, and the face of the brand’s new ‘Body’ fragrance (and fashion ‘It girl’ of the moment) Rosie Huntington-Whitely appears in a short video to thank fans for the achievement. The page introduces new content, which keep the consumer engaged in the brand and lusting for the product. Whilst remaining exclusive, the brand offers a mass audience the chance to be part of their brand in the same way that a new fragrance does.

Their Twitter page similarly offers snapshots into the world of Burberry with Creative Director Christopher Bailey even taking over the account during Fashion Weeks.

But significantly on top of this, Burberry launched its ArtOfTheTrench internet community, allowing those who sign up to comment, favourite and – if their image is selected - even share their own real-life shots of them in the famous Burberry trench. Bailey even commissioned The Sartorialist’s Scott Schuman to launch the site in a tactical move which would appeal to young internet-savvy fashion fans. Through this site and the younger audience appeal of a renowned fashion blogger, Burberry give their users another outlet that is more refined than the larger social media sites open to the masses.

Other luxury brands have also embraced social media to fantastic effect. Jimmy Choo started an Internet frenzy by launching a “Shoe Treasure Hunt” in London via location-based social networking website Foursquare, whilst Tiffany & Co. and Chanel were quick to realize the potential of iPhone applications which interact with Facebook.

Whilst some hold back attempting to guard their brand identity of desirability, most luxury brands are increasingly realising the need to focus on creating unique online experiences. Social media is a tool that any brand can ill afford not to be involved with. Acknowledging that exposing your brand to consumers through social networks is the only way to engage today’s customers consistently.

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