Last time I was in New York, I found myself ducking into Saks Fifth Avenue to avoid the sirens from the President’s motorcade. You have to appreciate the full retail experience of an upscale store like Saks. What really struck me on this particular visit were not the couture products or the latest high-ticket items that would require my selling a limb to purchase, but the habits of my fellow shoppers -- in particular, the number of mobile cameras being used to take pictures in every corner of the story really stood out. If I ventured a guess, I’d bet a majority of those photos were shared with friends and family for shopping advice or were being posted to Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
It’s no surprise that smartphones were out in force as they’ve become the essential tool for today’s highly connected and tech-savvy shopper. This year’s Mendelsohn Affluent survey showed that tech adoption for mobile devices like tablets and smartphones experienced a sharp increase. Tablets are being used in nearly half of affluent homes up from 24% and smartphones are now in more than 73% of affluent homes. In respect to how those devices are being used, the amount of time spent online has risen to 37.4 hours a week, with the largest growth related to social media, entertainment and shopping.
Social media tools are quickly becoming dominant for those under 35. This age group trusts its peer networks and is less and less responsive to traditional linear brand messaging. For brands that are on the higher end of the scale, releasing the reigns a bit can be a difficult task, but there are a few small steps that brands can take if they want to reach affluent audiences in the social set.
Here are some guidelines:
Invest time in the channel: Luxury products by their very nature are aspirational. Meanwhile, social components are becoming more and more visual. An Instagram image or Tumblr video provides a quick experience that can draw your fans in and get them to engage. By starting visual, you can use the inherent attractiveness of your brand and products to your advantage.
Don’t be afraid to crowd-source and harness the enthusiasm: Luxury brands work hard to build an experience. Burberry’s Art of the Trench is a great example of crowd-sourced content where fans were able to share their favorite examples of the iconic Burberry product. By having users upload photos or or aggregating photos from a Twitter or Instagram hashtag, you can collect and beautifully display these key experiences and create a wave of personal stories that positively align with your brand.
Tell a story: Luxury brands love to tell a story and what better way to tell one than with visual images like photos and videos? Consumers tend to be passionate about certain products, especially when it comes to luxury goods. Think Louis Vuitton versus Gucci. Empowering fans of a certain product to show their loyalty through the use of imagery is the best type of endorsement for which a luxury brand can ask.
Luxury brands are a core staple of today’s retail landscape. They have transcended trends and fads. They’ve been able to maintain a loyalty among consumers that is both unmatched and the envy of others. With social media and the power of this burgeoning visual revolution they now have an opportunity to build on that unshakable devotion.
Use the enthusiasm to fuel your platform: Once you use some of these efforts, make sure to leverage these unique bits of content across your channels. Extend your Facebook experience or create a Tumblr site. Feed the instagram images to your Web site experience. Lucky Magazine does a great job sharing the top product picks month after month by rotating images across their channels and drawing their audience in to their ongoing content. Leveraging the visual revolution can be one of the more effective ways to engage brand audiences on social platforms while still maintaining brand affinity.