BrainTrust Query: Luxury Isn’t Social
Through a special arrangement, presented here for
discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail Prophet Consulting
I’ve read a number of articles recently commenting on the conspicuous
lack of social marketing in the luxury sector. While it’s also true that
participation in social media among luxury brands has grown, the fact remains
that the general level of activity has been low — especially considering
the fervor around social media in general. "Why are luxury brands such
But let’s think about it for a minute. In the purest sense,
social media is built on the principle of inclusiveness, the genuine
willingness to give and share openly with others. Social media is the connective
tissue between friends, but more importantly between those who might not otherwise
belong to the same social circles; people from various walks of life who are
connected even momentarily by an experience. The essence of social media is
that we all have a voice — we’re all included.
Social media has
been successful in digitizing the underlying social nature of shopping. In
essence, shopping is more fun when we include others. Whether it’s
telling friends about the big sale that’s happening or posting a phone-cam
picture of the cool new shoes you just bought, social media feeds wonderfully
into the context of the shopping experience.
However, contrast this to the principles
upon which luxury has always existed. Luxury by definition is not inclusive,
just the contrary. Luxury is not for the unwashed masses but rather for the
elite. In fact, many of the most successful and enduring luxury retailers are
without question the most exclusive. Arguably the greatest danger faced by
any luxury brand is its own ubiquity. It’s
not about openly sharing your purchases with friends to inspire fun but instead
quietly and smugly coveting prized items to foster envy.
So, I’m not sure
we’re really dealing with a lack of understanding
on the part of luxury marketers when it comes to social media marketing. These
people are probably as personally active in social networks as any of us. I
just don’t think that social media marketing is as relevant for a purveyor
of true luxury items as it may be for an American Eagle shopper, say. True
luxury will never be social in the sense in which we understand social media
today. Sure, there may be closed social networks for yacht sailors and Bugatti
Veyron drivers, but don’t expect a friend request any time soon.
Discussion Questions: Does social media represent less of an opportunity for luxury brands? Why do you think luxury brands have been slower to embrace social media?