Luxury brands and social media in the Middle East

When one thinks of luxury in the Middle East, Harvey Nichols comes to mind. The luxury department store in Mall of the Emirates is a clear leader when it comes to leveraging the power of social media platforms to drive customer engagement here in the Middle East. In their seasonal magazine, I spotted subtle hints to check out their Pinterest and Facebook page—a smart way to test how powerful these platforms are in generating purchase decisions and driving foot traffic back into the store.

While some of the top international and regional designers are housed at Harvey, notable innovations are taking place in the social media world by individual brands themselves.

Burberry, a 158-year old British brand known for their trench coats, has a special Twitter account for the Middle East that has garnered around 60k followers. @BurberryME is very active on Twitter, tweets in Arabic and English, and uses videos and pictures to capture the attention of their followers.

It is clear that Burberry, from the get go, is one of the top luxury brands on social media not just here in the region, but internationally. Their social media efforts are part of a global integrated strategy which shows how highly they value connecting with local and regional customers. They also understand that Twitter is an influential platform for fashionistas.

In this tweet, Burberry is announced the opening of their latest storefront in Rashid Mall in Saudi Arabia:


Here, Burberry invites fans to follow the London Fashion Week Burberry Show, and even factored in the time difference for fans wishing to watch from the Middle East.

True social is not about channels but about experiences that are so infectious you can’t help become part of their story. But planning GREAT social experiences takes time, planning, resources and commitment – but as you can see in Burberry’s case it truly TRULY pays off.

Another fascinating luxury brand using social media is the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain. At the Arabian Travel Market late last year, the Ritz was not only live-tweeting the event using the @RitzCarlton handle, but also had a ‘Tweet Bar’ at their stand. Additionally, visitors checking in at the conference received tips on what to do in Dubai as recommended by Ritz-Carlton concierges. At the conference, QR codes were put up allowing users to download property insights, recipes and guided tours of hotels.

According to the Ritz, their social media campaigns have led to year-on-year increases on all their social platforms, including Facebook, which has increased 118% to over one million fans across the company’s brand page and 48 hotel pages. Facebook Page’s year-over-year growth in “People Talking About This” also went up 746%.

S*uce has been a leader on the Dubai fashion luxury scene since it opened around 10 years ago. As one of the first boutiques in the country, S*uce has built a loyal following, and has expanded to a few different concepts now, including S*uce at Sea and S*uce Gifts.

Last year, they launched an initiative called #webuiltthiscity that was driven by social media. We Built This City is all about sharing and savoring small and big moments in Dubai. The team over at S*uce even made an original music video going by the same name. The pictures using the hashtag are re-posted onto their website and other social media accounts.


I also noticed that Audi is one of the few luxury car brands that have separate social media accounts for the Middle East. The Audi Instagram and Twitter accounts have unique content and help tell the Audi ‘story’. Audi seems to understand the value of social—or maybe they are so active because Middle Eastern consumers love Audi (remember the Youtube hit ;feature=kp">Saudis in Audis?)

We believe luxury brands have a great opportunity here in the region – you should start with your Customer Journey

Appreciate the ‘Total Customer Value’

‣  Use all 4 Bonds to drive loyalty around structural, financial, emotional and social
‣  “It’s more important to reach the people who count than to count the people you reach.”
‣  Learn to read ‘digital body language’
‣  Ride into the future on platforms, not tactics

And remember the old adage – a brand has to GIVE to GET.

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