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12 December 2011

Luxury marketing and social media


by Wesley Lynch.


Admit it, as a niche or luxury brand you probably scoff at social media. What, you wonder, does your brand have to do with some pimply kid on a skateboard messaging his friends?

But you’d be wrong on two counts. A KISSMetrics report reveals that social media users are both wealthier and older than you think. Among the social platforms, Twitter has the most high-income earners (27% earn over $75 000 p.a.). An impressive 37% of Facebook users are over 45.

And they’re not monitoring their kids either. They’re ditching their satellite news channel for a more well-rounded perspective (Twitter), and they’re polling their friends, who know their likes and dislikes, for advice on what to get a loved one for Christmas (Facebook).

It’s obvious, then, that social is an underestimated and underrepresented medium in the niche brand marketing mix – a fact borne out by their brands conspicuous absence from social platforms.

Besides the surprising facts quoted above, here are a few things you probably didn’t know about social, things that ought to ease your fears and suspicions about the medium.

New authorities 

Forget Google and brand websites – social media is the new authority on topics across the board. If someone is looking for a really great wine or to form an opinion on a topical affair, chances are they’ll poll their friends or  poke around the ‘walled garden’ of Facebook rather than wade through search engine results or undertake an arduous trawling of websites.

So if you’re not on social media, you’re missing out on some highly qualified audiences doing some very targeted comparative shopping and acting on very powerful recommendations.

Millionaire aspirations

Today, industries like IT produce younger millionaires who bring a new casual luxury segment to the market, a segment perhaps not fully recognised yet by the high-end brands. Gangsta rappers with their penchant for ostentatious wealth, luxury cars, bling and designer wear, bring a different style again to the consumption of luxury brands.

With this democratisation of luxury brands, aspiration is keener than ever. Ordinary companies now toast their successes with Dom Perignon; kids and other low-income earners simply must have the latest iPhone.

Brand exclusivity and social

Given these developments, going social is not a move away from exclusivity. It is simply an extension of the brand community.

Today, brand communities form around groupings that actually consume the brand – not abstract metrics such as wealth. (Besides, with the above examples of young IT professionals and upwardly mobile rappers, the correlation between disposable income and age is being steadily eroded).

Niche brands should take social media channels seriously as a portfolio of tools, technologies and platforms facilitating the discovery and sharing of their content by an increasingly discerning social community.

Cartier-love-myspaceCartier experimented with MySpace back in 2008

It can be done

Where to from here? While it is not a widespread phenomenon yet, niche brands are increasingly flocking to the social Web. From Cartier’s MySpace account to Tiffany’s Facebook page and the Jimmy Choo treasure hunt on Foursquare, brands are figuring out how to do it.

To follow in their footsteps, other niche brands investigating a social strategy should engage the services of a technology and creative team that has been there and done that. Decide what you want from a social campaign or presence, find the local and global examples that inspire you, and track down the team that can deliver.

Wesley Lynch is CEO of Realm Digital.



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Great article Wesley. Social media only being for kids might've been true years ago but not anymore. As I watch television some of the brands known for their high end clientele have started promoting their Facebook and Twitter pages at the end of their commercials. There's a reason for that.

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