Christopher Parr is an industry leader with over 15 years of experience in digital marketing. He is an award-winning luxury marketing veteran, writer, a frequent speaker at luxury and interactive marketing conferences and a pioneer in web publishing. He launched Pursuitist as a curated list of the good things in life, with guest contributors from Forbes, Mashable, TechCrunch, Glamour, Saveur and more sharing their favorite luxuries. Advertisers on Pursuitist have included BMW, Hermes, Prada, Audemars Piguet, Burberry, Rolls-Royce and more. Askmen.com has named him “one of the 6 coolest guys in fashion,” his family was featured in Disney’s social media marketing and TV campaign, and Marc Jacobs leverages Pursuitist’s editorial.
Here’s my Q&A with Christopher, as he shares his social media marketing strategies for luxury brands, encourages authentic online engagement with affluent consumers, and stresses the need for exclusivity. It’s a new age of marketing and editorial intersecting with digital luxury marketing and social media to create online buzz for the world’s best luxury brands.
Q. On Facebook, why do luxury brands attract more than 4 times the fans of average consumer brands?
A. Luxury brands are focused and targeted. On Facebook, they’re unique clubs that discerning fans want to join, the opposite of a Walmart for the masses that offers everything for everyone. The attraction, and connection, to a luxury brand is all about affiliation to a unique experience – it is a dream, a desire and something to aspire to. If you’re a Mercedes-Benz owner, you want to make a connection with that brand on social media channels and share your affiliation. You want to mingle with like-minded friends, share stories and reminisce.
Q. And why do luxury brands attract more than 20 times the ‘likes’ compared to other brands?
A. Affluent consumers are active and vocal. Never passive. They’re in the know, they’re insiders, they love to be engaged and share their favorite fashions, autos and destinations. It’s all about social, and sharing their favorite things with their friends. As a luxury brand, you need to engage your affluent consumers. Invite them in, inspire them – and in-turn, convert them into brand-advocates.
Q. On Facebook, why do luxury brands prefer to post less frequently than other brands?
A. Very strategically, luxury brands want to be accessible – but also reserved. A luxury brand doesn’t over do it… They’re more calculated and unique in their flow of communications. They want to make sure the messages are worth their customers’ time – so they offer and create unique stories, images and videos. Luxury brands provide compelling experiences and tell the story behind the brand; the heritage in the craftsmanship of a BMW auto, how a Louis Vuitton handbag is created, or a remarkable one-of-a-kind experience at a Four Seasons Resort.
Q. And why don’t luxury brands typically open up their Facebook walls for comments?
A. It depends on the brands. High-end brands, from BMW, Viking Range, Four Seasons Resorts to Marc Jacobs, have their Facebook wall wide open – they encourage user-generated content and feedback from their fans. A few, like Louis Vuitton and Hermès, are more selective. Online and offline, Louis Vuitton is extremely controlling and protective of their brand. I advise luxury brands to keep their brand positioning, and to select an approach that fits with their brand DNA. Don’t lower the bar and alienate your core customer, but invite in aspirational consumers. Social media allows prospective customers to peek in and experience any luxury brand. Perhaps by being more selective, more mysterious – that secretive positioning is appealing to customers.
Q. Why do luxury brands leverage video content on their social media channels compared to other brands?
A. Luxury brands need to be on the cutting edge, as the affluent consumer is demanding – and always up on the latest technology, from amazing apps to the latest Apple iPhone and iPad. Luxury brands need to create killer content for these devices – from inspiring videos, cool apps, to exclusive content that offers an insider’s look into the brands. Louis Vuitton has numerous travel apps for the iPhone, with city guides for cities like Paris and New York, featuring Sophia Coppola and Rachel Weisz sharing their favorite restaurants and shops. Pull back the curtain and allow customers to have an emotional affinity with the brand.
Q. And what are few good examples of this?
A. Karl Lagerfeld brilliantly unveils videos on the Chanel Facebook page — previewing first with teaser images and videos – and then full-length videos. Lanvin’s Fall/Winter Video filmed by Steven Meisel was a viral sensation at 800k YouTube views. Why? Because it was simple and fun. As we assist brands in social media PR, Pursuitist helped create buzz for the Frank Miller video ‘Gucci Guilt,’ featuring Chris Evans and Evan Rachel Wood – a creative online mini-movie that received over 700k YouTube views. A luxury brand that basically recycles a TV spot or a magazine ad will ultimately fail at social media and engagement with their fans.
Q. So content is still king on social media?
A. Certainly. Luxury brands love to be engaged too. On Pursuitist, the brands, from Marc Jacobs, Land Rover, Infiniti, Ritz-Carlton to Viking Range, love to re-tweet and link to our editorial from their social media channels. With over 1 million views, our hit viral video ‘How To Make Perfect Steaks’ featured Lobel’s Steaks of NYC and wine from Robert Mondavi of Napa Valley. As they’re seeking to share authentic stories and brand engagement with their followers – both brands highlighted the video on Twitter and Facebook.
Q. And why should luxury brands avoid online contests or surveys?
A. Luxury brands rarely bother with contests or gimmicks. With contests, it opens the door up to tire-kickers — people who will never afford luxury products. It also degrades the brand – making the products feel less unique, as if they’re just a “give-away.” A luxury product must be earned. It isn’t a commodity. You never see a rebate on a Louis Vuitton bag, or a 10% off coupon for a Hermes scarf if you complete an online survey. That shatters the exclusivity of a luxury brand.
Q. Lastly, how are digital ads a good tactic to raise awareness for new products to affluent prospects?
Digital advertising is the future for luxury brands. It’s trackable, measurable and actionable. If you’re unveiling a new luxury product, online should be your main marketing channel. There’s a reason why Burburry has embraced social media and digital marketing, and as a result their revenue increased 29% in 2011.
As Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, states: “Burberry has delivered a strong first half, reflecting our continued investment in innovative design, digital marketing and retail strategies.”
Also read Christopher’s online series “Luxury Hotels & Social Media,” as Pursuitist interviews the top luxe hotel leaders (The Four Seasons, The Peninsula, Ritz-Carlton, Waldorf Astoria and many more) to gain insight into the online strategies of the industry’s elite travel destinations. Also, online at Parr Interactive.