Social Luxury - a liaison between social media and luxury brands

Nowadays Internet is an interactive place, where people are not only passive observers any longer, but also active participants and even content co-creators, characterized by communicative cooperation. Social media has become a global powerful phenomenon, which has increased the degree of social online activities among many consumer segments. After it has been neglected from the luxury brands for a long time, they have now considered what communication force they can achieve by implementing more active online presence. One of the reasons for which luxury brands have been so reluctant to adopt social media strategies so far is that they are trying to balance their exclusive appeal with the social masses. Social media for the luxury brands has been seen as more negative as it can reduce the brand value and perception and even make the brand more accessible. (Wright, M., 2009)

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Continued: How luxury brands can use social media for exclusivity Part 2

In part I of this post the characteristics of social media and luxury brands were explored and set into comparison. As a result social media and luxury brands seem incompatible at a first glance. However, taking a closer look social media incorporates several aspects that luxury brands can use to their advantage when promoting their exclusivity online. This second part of the post depicts examples of luxury brands that succeeded in maintaining exclusivity online and also an example that is taking exclusivity too far.

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How luxury brands can use social media for exclusivity Part 1

Luxury brands are a case of its own when it comes to social media marketing. Most of the well-established brands gained their recognition through traditional media long before the birth of social networking sites. Although quite late, most luxury brands have by now entered the social media sphere. For instance, Chanel, which has been on Twitter since 2011, only last year discovered the power of photo sharing, when creating the Chanel Official Instagram page (Heine, 2014).

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How to Solve the Conflict Between the Exclusivity Paradigm of Luxury Brands and the Open Source Character of Social Media Part 2

Based on the previous discussion about and comparison of the two concepts of exclusivity paradigm and the open source character of social media, the maintenance of exclusivity while opening their communication to millions of users emerged as main challenge for luxury marketers. As mentioned before, luxury marketers have pursued a very exclusive communication strategy targeting their consumers directly. By using social media this exclusive communication and targeting is watered down. This development is one of the most significant paradigm shifts within their history (Costa and Handley, 2011). Now every user can communicate on the brand publically. 

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How to Solve the Conflict Between the Exclusivity Paradigm of Luxury Brands and the Open Source Character of Social Media Part 1

Social media has significantly restructured the communication of companies - influencing organizations, the consumer and brands all around. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram together register more than 2.7 billion active users who spend an average of 2.4 hours daily on these platforms (Adweek, 2014). This corresponds to 39% of the world’s population – illustrating the immense power of online users. Consumers are no longer search for information passively; they actively create content and moderate discussions on brands (Hanna et al., 2011). Nowadays, we are living in an era where corporate communication is democratized as the power over communication has shifted from organizations to consumers (Kietzmann et al., 2011). Brands had to realize that online branding is an open source activity controlled by the customer rather than by brand managers (Fournier & Avery, 2011). Posing simultaneously both an opportunity and a threat, this consumer empowerment has a significant impact on how industries operate – the luxury industry being no exception (Dubois, 2014). Due to the enormous increase of online users, digital marketing and especially social marketing has become a mandatory element for every company (Hanna et al., 2011). But why have especially luxury brands struggled so long to invest in social media?

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