Luxury retail – how to create an effective social media strategy

Luxury Retail marketing

Luxury Retail marketing has evolved with the arrival of purchase power among the millennial and concepts such as retail therapy. Surabhi Chatterjee shares her thoughts

Have you ever wondered how much revenue could one social media post by an influencer generate for a brand?

Here is an example: last year, Yves Saint Laurent, a French luxury fashion house sold 422 units of their Mascara, driving $13500 in sales in just a matter of 24 hours. This happened after Arielle Charnas, a popular blogger from the fashion industry, posted on Snapchat about the product.

The advent of social media has changed the rules of communication across categories, and the luxury retail sector is no exception to this shift. The conventional wisdom in luxury brands used to be creating state of the art experiences in-store, with only a customary presence on the online channels. However, over the past few years, this practice has changed, for good.

The reason behind this is that the demographics and the buying habits of the shoppers of the category have gone through an immense shift. While Baby-Boomers and Generation-X make the most of the buyers of the category, the predecessors are catching up fast.

By 2025, Millennials and Gen Z will make 45% of the luxury buying category. While the earlier generation is becoming more digital savvy, the younger ones are anyway digital natives. The common thread between both these generations is the rise in the online interactions with the brands across digital platforms.

And, undisputedly, social media is the most critical of such online channels. According to a report released in 2017, social media followers of luxury brands increased by 27 percent.

Given these facts, it is evident that for luxury brands, mere presence on social media isn’t enough. Communication for luxury brands has a code of its own. When it comes to luxury brands creating a ‘desire’ through communication through these channels is the most crucial factor.

When it comes to luxury purchases, it is often the emotional brain that makes the decision. According to Prof Baba Shiv of Stanford University

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‘’the rational brain is only good at rationalising what the emotional brain has already decided.’’

So, what does it take to create this desire amongst the luxury shoppers? Here are the three important pillars –aspiration, exclusivity, and experience.

The above three aspects are critical for creating communication for luxury shoppers irrespective of the medium. Some progressive luxury brands have already marched ahead with these batons in hand and are engaging with their customers on social media using these. Here is how:

Using influencers to build aspirational value of the brand

Each social media channel serves a different purpose for luxury shoppers. For instance, while they may use Twitter for getting live updates about the brand latest launches or a live event, Facebook serves as a medium for them to get more information about the brand’s collections or recent news etc.

Instagram, on the other hand, serves as the most important medium to build the aspirational value for luxury brands through influencers.

Influencers’ market was worth $1 billion in 2017 and is expected to double in the next few years. It is clear that influencer marketing is here to stay and most luxury brands get that. Therefore for almost 91 percent of luxury brands influencer marketing has become an essential aspect of their social media strategy. Here is an example of a brand doing it right:

Daniel Wellington

This Swedish luxury watch brand collaborated with micro influencers to promote its watches. The good thing about the campaign was that these influencers not just posted an image of the product or wearing the watch, they did so in a visually captivating ambience and with the hashtag daniel wellington. The idea was not to just get the influencer talk about the product but create an aura of elegance and aspiration around it.

However, as tempting as it looks, using influencers for luxury brands is a double-edged sword. Recently Kylie Jenner’s tweet on Snapchat led to a drop in the company’s share prices.

So, it is vital for brands to consider the influencers they want to rope in carefully because an influencer can affect a brand’s image not just during the duration of the engagement but also long after the association is done and dusted.

Further, it is not just the influencer, but the content created around them is also critical. A right influencer with the wrong content can lead to a disaster, and the Kendell Jenner’s Pepsi ad controversy is a classic case of that.

Making the brand exclusive to customers

According to a study done, one of the critical aspects, why people buy luxury brands, is for boosting their self-esteem or feeling good about themselves or a situation. That is why ‘retail therapy’ is becoming increasingly popular amongst shoppers.

The exclusivity of the luxury brands is one of the critical aspects that adds to the ‘feel good’ factor of the brand. However, with online shopping gaining traction, these brands are now accessible to everyone.

Therefore, it is essential for luxury brands to build that exclusivity through their communication. It is easy to miss this attribute when it comes to social media, however, portraying exclusivity through social media channels helps brands it cutting through the noise as well.

Here are some examples of some luxury brands which are using social media platforms to build exclusivity in their communication:

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton makes sure that its follower base on social media feels valued by giving them exclusive sneak peeks at their new products launches and also by hosting giveaway events on these channels.

The brand also invited fans to follow an Instagram takeover by Nicolas Ghuesquiere, their creative director.

Mercedes Benz

Perhaps one of the best examples of building exclusivity for customers comes from the iconic automobile brand, Mercedes Benz. The brand created a closed social network for Gen Y’ers- GenerationBenz.com, an invite-only forum where these young customers could give feedback on the vehicles.

A few years ago, the brand also created a campaign for the launch of Mercedes-Benz CLA, where they picked 5 of Instagram’s best photographers, each got to drive the vehicle for five days and post images. Whoever managed to get the most likes during these five days won a 3-year lease on the car.

Creating an awe-inspiring experience for customers

One of the most enticing factors of luxury shopping is the overall experience. Therefore, luxury brands create best-in-class ambience in their stores, with impeccable customer service.

When it comes to social media consumers, expect the same level of elegance in the experience they get on these channels.

Here are some examples of how some luxury brands leverage social media to create amazing experiences:

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Gucci’s Gift Shop

During the 2017 Holiday Season, Gucci launched its virtual ‘Gucci Gift Shop’. The brand created a captivating experience around the brand world of Gucci.

In collaboration with artist Ignasi Monreal Gucci created a series of images presenting its clothes and fashion accessories in a completely different way, all through an interactive website. The campaign also received massive engagement on its social media channels.

L’Oréal Paris

L’Oréal Paris launched its Tumblr page during the Golden Globes Awards with L’Oréal Paris Live Golden Globes Beauty Lab. This live platform on Tumblr rallied models, make-up artists, hair stylists, etc. to recreate the looks adorned by the celebrities on the red carpet.

The campaign saw outstanding results: the Tumblr page with the LOreal Paris Live campaign controlled 80 percent of beauty-related Twitter chatter. The activation generated 21.8 million impressions and 234,000 engagements.

The success of the campaign was due to the amazing experience it created around the much sort after red carpet looks of the celebrities and bringing them to its customers. The Innovative take on the beauty tutorials also propelled the success of the campaign.

Luxury brands have always been known to create communication that is not just unique but also exudes the experience, exclusiveness and aspiration these brands stand for.

When it comes to social media, luxury brands also have the tough task of tapping into the emotional (and at times irrational) brains of the consumers that lead to the purchase decisions in this category.

To achieve this in the digital platform – content, design and the medium all has to come together to create an experience that appeals to the emotions and evoke the senses of the shoppers.


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