Over the past months I've found myself in a number of conversations around social media for luxury brands. For that reason I'll be posting a series in the next week exploring how luxury brands are leveraging social and calling out the considerations and opportunities that brands need to keep in mind.
If you understand social, luxury should make a lot of sense. Luxury consumers are often more likely to connect high-end products to their identities and discuss the role of those products in their lives. Luxury marketers should encourage and empower individuals to share passions and experiences related to luxury brands. These brands in particular can become focal points for social activity that facilitates new relationships amongst like-minded people who trust one another in especially unique ways.
Just as is the case for all social media, luxury brands can achieve many goals. Three such goals are:
- Gain unique insights by listening to luxury consumers
- Build relationships to foster loyalty and promote advocacy
- Create platforms that foster long-term, brand-related social identities
For this first post on luxury, let’s examine social platforms:
Social for luxury demands that you establish a more exclusive social experience. Often, social is about inclusive communication and connectivity that operates in terms of "one to many." This type of broadcast communication can be useful for community discussion, collective action, and collaboration. However, while luxury consumers are excited to socialize around their passions, they often want to make sure it's with individuals who will appreciate their tastes. Fostering a sense of one-to-one and brand-to-one relationships is where social can be very compelling in the luxury context.
Recently, I had a great conversation with aSmallWorld, which is an invite-only, private community targeted towards a luxury savvy audience. ASW's value for consumers is the idea of being connected with people who are in the know when it comes to desirable info in global cities such as New York, Paris or London. To continually deliver on that value proposition, ASW only seeks to expand off of a core audience, and to limit blind friend requests. Only about 20% of its members can invite new entrants. Further, if you friend request those you don’t know, you may be flagged and exiled to aBigWorld, which effectively ends your membership. The goal is to make existing members feel comfortable in the environment and, of course, to play off of the old saying that "everyone wants what they can't have."
The traditional nature of social networks is to drive engagement by facilitating connectivity. While ASW’s rules reflect an exclusive approach that maintains mystique, the site faces a trade off between fostering elite social connectivity, while at the same time trying to grow as a media company. To grapple with that dilemma, the community positions the ASW Magazine as a focal point, and often uses it to promote events and opportunities. A prominent ASW publication promotion at current is around driving a Mercedes 2010 SLS AMG at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey Peninsula, CA. Top down activations such as the publication, events, exclusive experiences and community personalities will be the only way that people have reason to return to the site. Of course, that costs money and we will have to wait and see whether ASW is a sustainable model as a digital platform for luxury networking.
To explore social media for fashion, also read Rohit Bhargava's recent post.