Redefining luxury in the social media world

Isaac Mostovicz writes that luxury has become fractional in the world of social media...

Everybody knows about the digital phenomenon that is social media and how it has become massively popular during the last few years. However, some luxury brands have only recently begun to exploit this new dimension in luxury marketing. This trend in luxury brands going digital reminds me of something that was said in the American Express’ Luxury research I mentioned in my blog post:

Companies looking to embrace social media as a way to break through persuasion immunity need to be careful to not put all their resources into this one opportunity.  Four in ten (37 percent) of affluent and wealthy consumers currently use Facebook, but only 3 percent say they use Facebook as a researching or purchasing tool.  Facebook remains a mostly a social tool (and a game platform for many).

What should be taken from this is its emphasis on the social side of, well, social media. Steve Rubel on Forbes recently wrote an article asking a key question:

In an era of ubiquitous social networking–one where every online and mobile experience is enhanced by the lens of our friends–how will luxury be defined?

In today’s digital age, social media is redefining the way luxury is marketed online.  Rubel goes on to say that because of the fragmented nature of the media environment and the increasingly personalized world of social media, luxury has become fractional.

A brand that’s achieved luxury status among thirty-something moms in Los Angeles could be considered taboo by the same demographic in New York–all because of the types of social connections we keep online and how they shape our worldview.

This idea parallels with another article I found online about the power of word-of-mouth in China. While these two articles concentrate on different types of social interactions, they note the same big impact it has on brand marketing when it is properly applied to these social channels.  Going back to social media, three key points which are essential for luxury brands to successfully use social media is to make every online experience a social one, develop coveted social objects and map and tap networks. While the first and last points make sense because it stays true to the essence of social media, the second key point revolves around the old age practice of showing off what you’ve got. Only here, it is done virtually, digitally. We’ve got the same primal, luxury urges as we’ve always had, but now they have translated themselves through a more sophisticated platform.

Such an upcoming trend in digital luxury marketing is also recognised elsewhere, for example, a guest contributor on Business of Fashion discusses why luxury brands should focus on mobile web and not mobile apps. Though a complicated process (setting up multiple compatible versions of the same website), the long term effects of such an endeavour is well worth the effort and luxury brands should quickly adapt to this growing trend, otherwise they will face a similar incident like the recent article featured on PSFK- consumers found themselves disappointed when top luxury sites failed to work on the iPad.

To survive long term, luxury brands should not only take advantage of social media, but also do it correctly by marketing socially. Keeping up to date with the latest digital trends is also very important. This new digital and social media dimension only adds to the difficulties luxury brands are now dealing with in the face of a new specialised, luxury consumer.

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