The omnichannel dilemma.
In 2007, Facebook launched its business page feature, allowing any merchant to attract potential consumers online. By doing so, the foundation for social selling was laid. In 2015, the social network inaugurated its ‘global luxury hub’ in Paris, a department dedicated to counseling luxury brands on how to use its platform to open and grow a new, performing sales channel.
Since then, luxury players have flocked to the platform. Most have integrated Facebook as a significant component of their online advertising and sales strategy. Indeed, the social network offers several valuable features, including high-performing analytics, efficient targeting, and the possibility to truly master one’s campaigns’ ROI. For example, Michael Kors use of Facebook’s video ads generated a 14% incremental lift in purchases for the brand.
But as the pandemic continues to accelerate the shift to online shopping, luxury brands have been forced to take a long, hard look at their online strategies. And for most of them, the conclusion was clear. They had been relying too much on Facebook, neglecting to explore other social platforms on which consumers are swarming today.
Delivering the right message, at the right time, on the right channel: welcome to the omnichannel dilemma.
Today, in terms of online presence, luxury brands cannot afford to put all their eggs in one basket – especially if that basket’s name is Facebook. Indeed, the tide has turned for the platform in terms of usage. Large chunks of users are now moving to other social networks: GenZ has embraced TikTok, while 30-year-olds favor Instagram.
Today, digital channels have become an essential part of luxury brands’ effort to reach new consumers. And since these consumers engage with about 6 different social media platforms every month, luxury players have had to adapt. Brands have had to expand their online presence in order to connect with their target audiences, wherever they may be. Which means, for most of them, creating accounts on TikTok, Instagram and other popular platforms.
This is the key challenge of omnichannel, which has become brands’ new normal. They now need to be able to deliver an integrated, consistent and memorable experience to their consumers. Besides, these experiences need to be delivered across all channels consumers routinely use to interact with the brand. And of course, luxury players need to adapt to each channel’s specificities…
However, the omnichannel approach is still often misread by brands as the necessity to be “everywhere, at anytime”, when its reality is much more complex. As a result, there’s been an arms race on social media. New brand accounts are popping up on every popular network: Snapchat, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest… Unfortunately, most of the time, brands rush to expand their online presence without taking the time to fully understand, integrate and leverage each platform’s unique potential.
Moving from one-channel oriented strategy to omnichannel strategy: luxury’s next challenge.
It takes time and effort to master an online channel and understand its audience’s expectations. Not only in terms of content and suitable formats, but also in terms of editorial choices and optimizing ROI.
Some luxury brands have already understood how to play this game. A great example is Louis Vuitton, who has successfully adopted most new distribution channels. From Linkedin ads to showcasing their fashion shows live on social media, to leveraging gaming and NFTs… The brand has actively and intelligently expanded its digital presence to grow a strong community (which accounts today for 24M Facebook followers, 45.2M Instagram followers, and 904K YouTube subscribers).
But not all brands have been as successful. Moving to a full omnichannel strategy can be a challenge, especially when it’s so hard to know where to start. How can luxury players gear up and operate this strategic shift without missing out on the opportunities offered by omnichannel?
We have listed some of the best practices inspired by brands who are ahead of the omnichannel game.
4 approaches luxury brands can leverage to enter the omnichannel era.
Going one channel at a time
There’s no point rushing to establish their influence across all digital platforms. Instead, brands should take a ‘one at a time’ approach to truly understand the strengths and limitations of each channel. But also, to identify the relevant features they can play with!
Indeed, each social network has a different advertising lever to offer. However, each lever needs to be thoroughly understood and mastered in order to yield high ROI. For example, Snapchat has created a unique feature, allowing customers’ to try their favorite brand’s products and visit a virtual shop to discover its latest collections.
Creating a unique experience on each channel
The first, essential step for any brand is to analyze and understand the specificities of each social network. Not only in terms of trends and viral opportunities, but also in terms of their target audience’s digital habits.
As Txampi Diz, CMO of Balmain shared with us in an interview about leveraging social luxury, “[online], a core principle remains unchanged: luxury brands must understand what the luxury consumer wants from a brand and how digital can help its customers get there.”
In other words, it’s not about showcasing your brand online. It’s about addressing your consumers’ needs and creating a unique experience for them to embark them in your brand’s universe.
Leveraging User Generated Content
User Generated Content refers to any content created and published by users of a brand, which highlights the brand or its products. Many luxury players have already integrated this element to their online marketing approach, in order to add an extra layer of authenticity to their communication strategies.
A great example of successfully relying on consumers to create content is Balmain: the hashtag #balmainarmy (referring to the “Balmain Army”, Olivier Rousteing’s close friends) has been used over 135K times on Instagram, showcasing Balmain consumers eager to join the ranks of the luxury brand’s inner circle – and boosting its online visibility as a consequence!
Relying on data to boost online performance
Mastering data to produce actionable insights and measure each consumer’s end-to-end online experience with a brand is key to winning the omnichannel game.
Social ads and targeted campaigns can offer extremely good results, but only if they are correctly set and monitored. In the future, luxury brands who want to grasp the full potential of an omnichannel strategy will need to rely on data and analytics to deliver unforgettable, personalized experiences to each of their customers!
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