Social Media Changing the Face of Luxury Brands?
When it comes to luxury brands, exclusivity is crucial to their survival as they thrive on their elite image. So how can these brands cope in today’s social media age where the power is shifting from the brand almighty to the consumer?
After all, marketers and so-called social media buffs all champion this new era as the time when consumers need to be listened to and appreciated. Many brands have even taken this a step further by giving up partial control, taking up the curious activity dubbed ‘co-creation,’ where consumers actually take part in the creation of the product.
How can luxury and more specifically designer brands who rely so heavily on their unattainability survive in this brave new world? Few have succeeded. In fact, Gucci and Burberry are the only ones who come to mind. Burberry’s Art of the Trench website, where fans shared pictures and anecdotes via Facebook about the emblematic Burberry trench coats, was a triumph.
Thus, while every other brand is desperately trying to figure out how to jump on the social media bandwagon, luxury brands are increasingly pressured to follow suit. Gucci has succeeded in getting four million fans to “like” their page on Facebook. Does every single one of those fans own a Gucci product? Most definitely not, but social media is allowing the designer brands to communicate with their audience in whole new ways. These new digital platforms allow high-luxury brands to share pictures, videos, and all sorts of information about upcoming collections and events. While not everyone will be able to afford that five thousand pound dress, people can dream about it, talk about it, and who knows, maybe someday own it.
Oscar de la Renta is taking things to a bold new step, as it launches its first fragrance in ten years on Facebook. Indeed, in order to generate buzz over the new scent, these next few weeks will be dedicated to giving out samples of the perfume, Esprit d’Oscar, on a special section of the social media platform. Michele de Bourbon, Oscar de la Renta’s head of marketing for fragrance claims that through social media and its more affordable fragrance line, consumers have been able to “experience the world of Oscar.”
Although this is not the first fragrance to be launched via Facebook—Marc Jacobs launched a perfume through a Facebook game last year, it will be interesting to see how Oscar de la Renta fares with this digital launch. I certainly think it’s a brave move, but if the brand wants to make waves, it can’t do this halfway. Just giving out samples on Facebook seems a bit shy to me. But I’ll be watching this closely as this could mark a new era for the luxury industry and social media marketing.
See also "Watch Building Tutorial," where Jaeger Le Coultre creates an app that teaches people about the craft of luxury watch making and JCDecaux installs scented airport posters to deliver perfume sampling.