Luxury brands have their work cut out for them today. Off course the basics of creating luxury brands remain core and fundamental to the longevity and appeal of the brand to the luxury consumer. In particular it is the challenge of knowing where and how to best engage with the customer base and other stakeholders and influencers that ‘land the brand’. Social media is often one of those areas that leaves a number of luxury marketers scratching their heads over where, how and what to do. The challenge with dealing with an exploding number of social media seems to see no halt as the range of channels to manage ranging from the micro-blogging world of twitter to the broad appeal of Facebook to often visually necessary Pinterest and Instagram (thank God Facebook bought them and the integration is getting better by the day). Then there is the question of the all important Asian markets when it comes to Luxury. China and numerous other markets seem to test social media companies patience and tenacity as from time to time various countries ban the channels due to reasons ranging from political to religious offence. Sina Weibo is off-course a necessary evil if you want to crack the all important Chinese customer. But first let me ask you an important cultural question: Do you know what Golden Week is? If the answer is yes then skip the next paragraph, but should you find yourself starting to read quicker to get to the answer please do take the time to read about the importance of understanding not only the who, the how, the where but also the when for luxury social media activity.
Too many luxury executives simply lack an understanding of cultural nuances and important periods for their all important emerging markets luxury consumer. London Marketeers take note how many honestly know:
– Many of Mumbai’s wealthy take flight from the Maximum City at Monsoon time to grace Mayfair, Bond Street and London with their custom
– Chinese customers hit London and various other international gateway cities in droves during Golden Week (September) and drop more coin on luxury shopping than any other segment at present
– Most GCC shoppers from Qatar, UAE and Saudi descend on London in the summer with their entourages and fill our Knightsbridge and Park Lane hotels alike
It is essential that it is possible to speak to the consumers in a language that they are most comfortable with and through channels that make sense. From Luxury London, an app which allows Chinese customers visiting London to find the best deals on their iPhones to Sina Weibo micro blogging activity brands need to spend the necessary resources to develop a natural engagement with these consumers.
Launching a Luxury brand comes with the added complexity of managing not just trade, media but also consumer expectations. Finding an excellent Public Relations partner is fundamental to achieving the kind of reach and coverage that very few marketeers can pull off through the help of just their black books. Here again the market is littered with PR agencies claiming to be experts in fields where they just simply do not have the credentials or the strength of relationships to pull of the kind of success that most brand teams dream of. It is fundamental for marketeers and senior executives new to an industry to get to understand who their competition is also represented by as often conflicts of interest prevent the very best option for representation. Specialist PR agencies may often be the way to go as an example the hospitality industry has PR houses that offer a lot more than just contacts and bright ideas, some have gone as far as to add real value to the business by setting up sales offices that can support brand sales teams as they travel the world and get important channels to buy into the product and more importantly the brand they are selling. Many of these PR machines also offer that all important service to help you manage your brand social media. Do not shy away from buying this service if you are a small in-house brand team. The constant coverage is invaluable as can be found in the case of the Corinthia Hotel who found themselves at the end of Rihana’s tweets when she got caught out in her jammies due to a fire alarm early in the morning.
There is so much more to consider on the digital side of things and often what most brand marketeers struggle with the most is the creative agency selection process. Walking the tight rope of budget, capability and experience must never be short changed. More importantly with smaller agencies take the time to really understand their ability to deliver and not simply outsource the work to too many providers to manage. There is also the all important and seemingly obvious: take the time to check their references and credit history to get a gauge of the kind of organisation you are doing business with. Often a simple google may reveal more than you may have bargained for!