Luxury brands have traditionally been slow to react to the changing digital landscape. Their cautious approach is fueled by fears of losing their exclusivity, of somehow tarnishing an image they have spent years, even decades, refining.
This is, however, beginning to change — and social media is playing a big part in this culture shift.
More and more high-end fashion retailers are embracing social media. Where before they might have shunned the global platforms of Facebook or Instagram, today many luxury brands have taken social media to heart, making it a pillar of their marketing strategy to great effect.
Posting regular, engaging, and relevant aspirational content, luxury brands now command hundreds of thousands of loyal followers across multiple channels. Let me show you why.
Hermès: doing social media right
If you’re after a shining example of an upmarket fashion brand making waves on social media, one need look no further than Hermès. Balanced elegantly along the tightrope of exclusivity and engagement, their social media feeds are awash with photos, posts, and videos.
Their Instagram in particular is beautifully and irresistibly curated. Artfully shot photos of jewelry and furniture rub shoulders with candid videos of the brand’s expert craftsmen and women at work.
Any marketer worth their salt knows that visual content is key in social marketing, and theirs reflects this. Imaginative and inventive, Hermès creates hugely striking imagery that resonates with their audience.
And their Facebook feed is no different. They embrace hashtags without being excessive, and their brand voice is curious and florid without being overly colloquial. Hermès produces a mix of content encompassing photos, videos, interviews and more — and it works.
Keeping up with a transforming landscape
So why has Hermès embraced social media with such fervor? And why are other high-end fashion brands following suit?
Connect and engage with customers
One of the main concerns that luxury fashion retailers have when considering a social media marketing strategy is a loss of prestige. Much of a luxury brand’s cachet is based on their perceived exclusivity. Many premium or select items can only be afforded by the super-wealthy, their price becoming an implicit statement of this position.
However, what these retailers are learning is that they can maintain exclusivity while at the same time reaching out to and connecting with their customers. This is a necessity in a world in which technology is a daily and integral part of our lives. Through artistic, high quality visual content and consistent voice, retailers can connect with audiences in ways that are wholly aligned with their brand image.
Reap the rewards of an multichannel strategy
More and more luxury fashion brands are waking up to the benefits of multichannel marketing. With more opportunities opening up for retailers to reach their audience, they are seeing the massive potential these avenues afford. Burberry have run with this and provided customers with the option to click and collect in-store on their website, creating a seamless experience between their online and offline channels. More and more luxury brands need to do the same — making convenience and speed, as well as aesthetics, a marker of luxury.
Hermès has embraced an multichannel approach and taken it further with the development of a number of apps. Silk Knots shows the viewer several different means of tying a Hermès scarf, with new knots added each season. Simple and functional, it serves to teach the user something whilst keeping brand awareness at the forefront.
Hermès even launched a game, H-pitchhh, to celebrate their brand theme for 2018, Let’s Play. A simple horseshoe-throwing app, it’s playful and tongue-in-cheek tone blends seamlessly with their existing marketing strategy.
Luxury brands embracing a more playful and social approach to commerce has partly been in response to the ever-changing ecommerce landscape. As more and more brands enter the marketplace (both luxury and otherwise) older and more established household brands need to work harder to entice customers their way. Ecommerce merchants are fully taking advantage of systems like Shopify whose online stores offer Facebook, Instagram and Twitter plugins to allow users to move between stores and social feeds uninterrupted. This kind of seamless commerce is no longer expensive and inaccessible — in fact, it’s become the norm.
Luxury brands will need to step up to the challenge and offer their own responses to seamless and multichannel commerce. Consumers aren’t going to forgive a brand for a poor user experience or lackluster customer service on social media just because they are selling luxury goods! In fact, the expectations will be even higher.
Flick through your apps and you’ll notice that, for the most part, the retail apps are designed to let you buy and pay through them. Amazon, Starbucks, ASOS — all their apps allow for the flow of money to the brand. For some high fashion retailers, they have opted not to cheapen their brand by allowing online purchasing. At the same time, they have developed their own apps which still promote customer engagement while preserving their prestige.
The leader of the pack in this field, beyond doubt, is Chanel. Their app, first launched in 2008, offers the viewer a wealth of appealing content. This ranges from behind-the-scenes insights into photoshoots and exclusive interviews with Karl Lagerfeld and other big names to comprehensive profiles of the latest collections. Chanel’s app opens the doors to an iconic French fashion house, boosting their brand awareness wildly while at the same time remaining exclusive. Essentially, you can look, but you can’t touch (without going to a Chanel store).
The advent of a new audience
The past few years have seen a shift in consumer behavior. The arrival of the millennial has meant a new form of shopper, raised in a digital age and more inclined to turn to social media and online stores. As such, retailers have had to scramble to ensure their brand meets the expectations of this new customer segment. This includes ensuring they have a solid online presence across multiple platforms, one which is authentic and consistent. Many everyday brands have rolled with this, however high-end retailers have dragged their heels. Those that have jumped on the bandwagon and succeeded have a lot to teach us all about luxury done well….
The Italian luxury fashion brand Gucci is particularly adept at appealing to this new audience with a formidable Instagram marketing strategy. Their photos feature twentysomething models dressed as Frida Kahlo, the darling of the millennial crowd. They also place a greater emphasis on social issues, something millennials actively seek and support in brand dialogues. As trusted craftspeople and makers with a unique voice, luxury fashion brands are in a great position to comment on the social issues that affect us all.
Luxury fashion retailers are increasingly beginning to realize that social media is a vital tool in their marketing arsenal. The opportunities afforded by an online presence are numerous, and social media is a lifeline to a growing millennial audience. Brands are learning that they can engage with customers and implement a social media strategy….and stay prestigious at the same time.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. Want the latest on developments in ecommerce, marketing, and design? Go check her blog, Victoria Ecommerce. Vicky is passionate about helping people get the most out of their ecommerce stores.
By Victoria Greene Courtesy TheTopTier Digital Media