In the past prestigious brands have been reluctant to engage with social media, which may be due to the culture they have adopted, focusing all their attention on quality and exclusivity. Decreasing the image and brand perception of luxury brands would have potentially been a concern of marketers (Ilyashov, 2015). However, social media channels such as Facebook are no longer something they can afford to overlook, wealthier audiences fully interact with online resources, meaning luxury brands would be foolish not to extend their online experience (Valentine, 2016).
Facebook has more than 1.44 billion active users around the globe who spend an average of 20+ minutes each and every day liking, commenting and scrolling through posts and status updates (D’Onfro, 2015). This huge audience is now recognised as a fantastic platform for retailers to target their audience and motivate consumers to talk about their brand (cpcstrategy, 2015). Smith (2016) states that a total of 91% of retail brands have two or more active social media accounts whilst 71% of consumers who plan to buy luxury products use social media as a way to communicate with brands (Vermeren, 2014). Therefore it is more important now than ever for luxury retailers to use social media as a way to stay competitive and communicate with their customers.
The benefits for high-end retailers
It appears that social media is in fact proving to be very helpful for high-end retailers such as Gucci and Burberry, as it is helping them to appeal to specific segments of customers to drive the appropriate traffic to their website (Ghosh, 2016). Facebook advertising allows retailers to direct their products to specific consumers who are most likely to make a purchase, for example targeting people of high affluence is very much in the interest of luxury brands, especially when a typical Gucci bag is priced at £1,500.
Facebook adverting also helps retailers to:
- Target the right customers across devises, including desktop, mobile and tablet (facebook, 2017)
- Get the most value from their investment into advertising by reaching only the people that matter to them (facebook, 2017)
- Deliver relevant promotional material (facebook, 2017)
- Continually engage with potential new customers -6 new facebook profiles are created every second (Smith, 2016)
With the advancement of online tracking technology the facebook advertising tool allows retailers to target consumers based on their location, demographics, interests and behaviours, permitting marketers to really specify a target audience (facebook, 2017). Typically, British designer brands appeal strongly to overseas customers and retailers often generate impressive profits from international sales. These important consumers can be targeted with personalised marketing material using facebook ads by focusing on a specific location, allowing retaliers to continually develop interaction and sales with international customers (Cooper, 2013).
Innovation in Facebook advertising
Last year Facebook launched a new platform called canvas which was developed in order to allow brands to create an immersive experience to appeal to targeted facebook users (Degun, 2016). Burberry was one of the first retailers to test the new platform in order to create a mobile friendly look book called ‘the scarf bar’. By clicking on the promotion it turns the advert into a full screen experience with moving pictures (Ghosh, 2016), offering the customers something above and beyond a standard advertising post. This provides the user with a unique experience; something high-end retailers continually strive to do (Grigorian & Petersen, 2014).
This is what the advert looks like on Facebook:
And when you click on the advert, the page transforms into an exciting display page, shown below:
The main downfall for retailers who invest into Facebook advertising is the fact that consumers mainly use facebook to interact with friends, not to interact with brands (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2015). Therefore consumers may simply scroll past the advertisement and not engage with it.
It is important for high-end retailers to stay competitive and this means keeping up to date with social media. However it is also important for them to stay exclusive and offer something extra to their customers, like Burberry achieved with the Facebook canvas tool. It is essential for them to target the right consumers and not use social media as a way to engage with anyone and everyone as this could potentially encourage the wrong type of attention. Premium brands should also embrace the interactive nature of social media and converse with their customers to find out information about them. If campaigns are executed professionally luxury retailers could really benefit from Facebook advertising.
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