Luxury Brands to Stay Cautious on Social Media

By now, most marketers have heeded the warning: Maintain a social media presence or risk getting left behind in this new marketing gold rush. But there is one group of marketers who have been decidedly cautious about how they use social media – luxury merchants.

Writing for Adweek, Mike Chapman explains the salient points of his recent study on luxury brand data shared by the advertising agency Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener (WDCW). Chapman compared the Facebook strategies of luxury operators to those used by  marketers of a product group he labels fast-​moving consumer goods (FMCG). This research yielded some interesting statistics.

For example, the average luxury brand – think Burberry or Cartier – has an average about 1,5 million fans. On the other hand, the typical marketer of  a FMCG, say diapers, has about 366,639 fans.  Many marketers go to great lengths to engage with fans through social media. Strategies include corporate posts, commenting on posts, soliciting stories and other content from fans, and promoting contests. The average marketer of a FMCG writes 17 posts a month. And over 80% of these marketers also keep their wall open to fan posts and respond regularly. In addition, almost half of these marketers actively encourage fans to visit their Facebook site by posting surveys, polls and quizzes. Luxury brand marketers are taking a far different approach. For many, Facebook remains a traditional marketing tool, because they use it primarily as a one-​way communication. Few luxury brands allow consumers to post comments to their wall. These marketers also do not often respond to fan posts and they don’t try to attract more fan attention by posting surveys, quizzes or contests.

Commenting on this discrepancy, WDCW CEO Ben Wiener says “FMCG and other companies essentially pay for fans on Facebook with giveaways and competitions.”  And he indicates that luxury goods may have such a strong image that they do not need a “social media push.”  But Chapman suspects that preventing fans from posting on a Facebook page could be interpreted as snotty or elitist. Luxury brand marketers must maintain a close connection with their most valuable customers. For now, social media might not be the best way to build loyalty with the demographic most likely to purchase luxury goods but these marketers may find that times are changing.

[Source: Chapman, Mike. Luxury Brands Remain Aloof on Facebook. Adweek​.com. 11 May 2011. Web. 27 May 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.