News & Views
Can social media sell luxury?

Jeetendr Sehdev, Author, Superstar: The Art & Science of Celebrity Branding:  Luxury brands don’t sell products but promote a state of being and a way of life. They have to tread carefully when living in the social media space to not become overly accessible.

But some visual-centric social media channels, like Facebook and Instagram, can be used strategically to infuse the luxury brand with a greater sense of allure. Brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Louboutin are finding their groove on Instagram where the content they create is as much about curating culture as it is about marketing.

Sarah Watson, Chief Strategy Officer, BBH New York: Businesses who really understand the strength of their collections and use this to stay top of mind by weaving stories around key items can do very well.

Luxury fashion is almost uniquely suited to social media. Fashion from high to low is all about being in the know, getting a first glimpse, feeling you’re ahead of the game – everything that social media is great at.

Art Tavee, Director of Brand Planning and Digital Services, Laird + Partners: Exclusivity will always matter in terms of luxury — the two go hand-in-hand, regardless of the powerful millennial cohort.

Social media plays an important role because it allows luxury brands to share content that fuels consumers’ aspirations. Social media also enables consumers to badge themselves as an exclusive luxury consumer, for instance, by sharing photos or videos of themselves wearing products and other first-mover or “in-the-know” content.

Rae Bernamoff, Creative Strategist, Sub Rosa: For the millennial consumer exclusivity matters, but curated access to behind-the-scenes moments and relevant personalities only enhances a brand’s exclusive mystique. Offering a taste of the show and all the interaction surrounding it serves to reinforce the thrill of attendance and generates opportunity for consumer engagement through contests that bring followers and fans into the action.

What are some luxury brands that are leveraging social successfully?

Sehdev: Too cool for school, Tom Ford barely has a website. To refuse to engage is on some level the most appropriate gesture a brand can make in the social media space. It’s disruptive. Chanel refuses to sell most of its products online because digital doesn’t provide the in-store “Chanel experience” that is the essence of the luxury brand.

Watson: Burberry is famously leading the way and has proved from the start that it is possible to maintain exclusivity whilst actually generating sales with innovative approaches like Tweet the Catwalk.

Tavee: Burberry has been innovative in so many ways, from its Art of the Trench social site, to its early understanding that consumer conversation is relative to the quantity and quality of its content. In the last couple of years, Lanvin has done a fantastic job of understanding the importance of humor for social spread, such as fun cartoon-like sketches on Facebook, and has managed to balance a luxe sensibility with a tongue-in-cheek approach.

Bernamoff: Burberry does an amazing job at conveying the in-store luxury shopping experience to the digital space through a clean interface and beautifully photographed fashion. Oscar de la Renta has perhaps the strongest cult following on social media as a direct result of @OscarPRGirl, Erika Bearman. In her own words, Erika has helped to take the brand’s “reputation for outfitting ladies who lunch, to ladies who tweet at lunch.”

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