The majority of luxury marketing budgets are still being allocated to glossy print ads and selected TV spots. Yet as we explore in our latest report on Affluent Consumers, Louis Vuitton and Burberry may have led the way for digital (with Burberry creating the user-generated website The Art of the Trench back in 2009), but many luxury brands are still missing a trick with this audience – which comes down to a lack of focus on social.

99% are social media users

Affluent Consumers typically spend more time reading physical press than the average internet user, but they engage with social media for much longer, almost an hour-and-a-half per day. 99% of this audience are social media users.

Marketing for luxury brands relies on maintaining qualities of prestige, heritage, and exclusivity; qualities which at first glance may seem incompatible with a mass medium like social.

But Affluent Consumers are already sharing the social space with brands.

43% are following brands they like on social media, and over a third use social in their product research.

With social already part of the purchase journey, it’s vital that brands reach them there. It’s particularly important in the emerging markets of MEA, LatAm and APAC, where Affluent Consumers tend to be younger, more urban, and more engaged with social.

Facebook and YouTube are the most popular networks for this group, but there is a clear opportunity in the visual channels of Instagram and Pinterest, which Affluent Consumers over-index for visiting.

On these platforms, luxury brands can showcase aspirational content and their brand values; something Burberry has used to its advantage, to the extent that it is now the most followed British fashion brand on Instagram, pushing Topshop into second place, despite the latter’s broad consumer base.

Luxury brands have always known the value of providing great customer service and making the buyer feel valued, and social can facilitate this. Social presents a unique way in which to engage internet users in brand marketing, which is something Affluent Consumers actively want.

Building brand-consumer relationships

What repeatedly comes through in our attitudinal data is a desire for a personalized brand-consumer relationship, with this group more likely to be doing things like providing brand with new ideas for products or interacting with brands on a messaging app. The move to create chatbots by Louis Vuitton and other brands recently means they are well-placed to take advantage of this.

In the process of making consumers feel valued and included, brands can also capitalize on this group being more likely to promote a brand to enhance their online status. As a quarter discover brands through comments on social networks, brands can benefit post-purchase by Affluent Consumers using their own social presence to advocate them, allowing for further organic reach.

Print will always have a role in the luxury marketing portfolio, but luxury brands should realise the potential in social media.

It allows for direct contact with a core group of Affluent Consumers where they spend most of their online time, and often part of their purchase journey as well. On top of this, social offers reach to a wider audience in promoting an aspirational image. Creating a sense of exclusivity and prestige doesn’t have to be an offline-only endeavor.

* Our Social Grading Segmentation ranks respondents based on their answers to a number of questions relating to lifestyles, professional lives and personal circumstances (a full explanation can be downloaded here). Affluent Consumers are defined as those who place in the top quintile based upon those answers.

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