Image credits: @burberry, @harrods, and @alexandermcqueen
Marketing is in the midst of a full-scale transformation. As the global population spends more and more time on digital devices, and embraces social media channels as a way to view entertaining content, a new era is emerging that prioritizes creative marketing rooted in entertainment value. Generation Z is increasingly drawn to visual content that not only captures their attention, but keeps them scrolling for more.
In late 2020, nearly 20% of young people aged 18-25 were consuming 20 hours per week of online video content. Today, those numbers are even larger. With this rapid rise of entertaining short-form video content, it is essential for brands and marketers to move at speed, and create a steady stream of topical content that keeps audiences engaged and tuned in.
The outlook for luxury marketing is very different in the coming year, with a focus on entertainment value taking center stage. Competitive luxury brands are wasting no time, experimenting with different formats, channels, and content—including short-form video channels like TikTok, investing in the metaverse, and partnering with video game companies on interactive branded content that reaches millions of players. Keep reading to dig into the specifics of top luxury brand marketing examples.
More brands than ever are also looking to creators, the pioneers of short-form video, for partnerships. Working with creators to co-create content opens your brand up to fresh ideas and unique perspectives, and also ensures that your brand will be shared with that creator’s audience. Sponsorships are fleeting, and can be easily deleted by creators once the impact has been made, but entertaining content has a much longer shelf life, and is much harder for creators to delete. Creators are first and foremost entertainers themselves, and their desire to make a lasting impact aligns with their brand partners.
Video is highly effective when married with e-commerce capabilities. Leading brands are exclusively testing live-streamed shopping events across every channel you can think of, including TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest. These channels are quickly innovating their online presence with new revenue streams for entertainment. Every brand should start planning for how this emerging technology will fit into their marketing strategy.
Millennials and Gen Z, the generations most active on short-form video channels, are set to contribute 130% of market growth for the luxury industry between now and 2025. However, these are also the generations that have grown tired of perfection, and have made waves by moving toward content that is comfortably imperfect. TikTok surpassed Google as the most popular website on the internet in 2021. As many brands are still figuring out their TikTok marketing strategies, social entertainment is a huge differentiator in digital marketing strategies for savvy brands.
Short-form video cuts through the noise. The algorithms seen on TikTok and Instagram Reels prioritize showing users content that is predicted to be the most entertaining, which is why social entertainment is going to be such an important part of brands’ strategies going forward. The most entertaining content will find oversized audiences on these emerging channels, no matter the follower size of the brand behind it, which presents an opportunity for brands to expand their reach in ways they weren’t able to before.
Lo-fi, short-form video is the breath of fresh air that social media users have been looking for, however, luxury brands face the ordeal of figuring out how to promote luxury goods while also being relatable. Reconciling being reachable, and also unreachable, is a seemingly impossible task—but short-form video presents a happy medium. Brands can continue to sell a dream in their luxury advertising, while relying on the human element of short-form video to open up to viewers in ways that static studio imagery did not allow for.
From tapping into channels like TikTok, Twitch, and YouTube, to conceptualizing immersive digital experiences, the luxury industry landscape is evolving, taking branded entertainment and the marketing of luxury goods to a new level. The following examples from leading brands are just a few ways that companies are using entertainment-driven channels to foster deeper engagement with their target audiences.
Burberry has long merged timeless luxury with innovative marketing strategies. In 2020, the brand partnered with Twitch to become the first luxury brand to stream a fashion show on the live video platform. This move was very timely, as viewers were stuck at home during pandemic lockdowns, and entertainment channels such as Twitch were skyrocketing in viewership.
The iconic British brand continues to push boundaries with its entrance into the metaverse. Burberry has partnered with Tencent Games, creating designs for popular Chinese online battle game Honor of Kings, and introducing a new kind of interactive product placement in the process. Burberry’s continued success in entertainment marketing lies in the strategic partnerships it aligns itself with to create unique experiences for its audiences.
Luxury retailer Harrods has the experience and wisdom to drive a successful luxury marketing strategy. The brand has been experimenting over the past year, in partnership with other luxury brands, to deliver unique online experiences for its audience. The brand recently worked with Burberry on a campaign that involved scanning a QR code to enter a virtual world. Inside the metaverse, fans could browse the latest Burberry collection, and get a taste of the in-store Burberry experience from their couch. The brand also launched a similar experience with Dior Beauty, and is in a strong position to continue its metaverse marketing expansion as the new technological frontier expands in adoption.
Harrods is certainly not afraid to adopt new content formats, quickly adopting Instagram Reels as a channel to showcase its new product launches, in-store exhibitions, and limited-time pop-up stores. Short-form video content keeps viewers engaged, educated, and entertained in a way that is much more effective than static imagery, while remaining true to the classic Harrods brand. To read more about how Harrods uses Dash Hudson software to make data-backed decisions in its strategy, check out the case study that explores their perspective on luxury brand marketing.
Alexander McQueen is bold and fearless, which is reflected in its marketing strategies. The luxury brand has taken to TikTok to give fans an exclusive look inside the atelier, a sneak peak at backstage moments, and closeups on the celebrity McQueen looks that they wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else. The channel allows the brand to be intimate with fans, and entertain in a way that luxury brands haven’t in the past, while maintaining the vision that makes Alexander McQueen what it is. The brand never shies away from creating a big moment.
Luxury labels have been largely been successful on social platforms thanks to name recognition, but as Instagram evolves and various content trends come and go, it has become increasingly imperative that they shift their thinking toward devising social-first strategies. And thanks to the appointment of Alessandro Michele in 2015, that's exactly what House Gucci did.
Michele took the leading role of creative director at Gucci and completely overhauled the brand, infusing new cachet and breathing a fresh new perspective into its aesthetic, to both much critical and popular acclaim. From the very first collection he released, his point of view was laser sharp and crystal clear,and it was far from Gucci’s historical image.
Alessandro's uniquely distinctive vision became instant Instagram fodder and was embraced by street style stars around the globe pretty much immediately after his first show. His direction ushered in a new era for the storied house — and one that ushered in a new, modern era for the storied fashion house that extended to their social media strategy.
The Gucci brand turnaround has also seeped into their Instagram, and the result is a hyper-focused extension of Alessandro's updated direction.
Their narrative has done a 180 since Michele's been in charge. The creativity and artistry with which each collection is infused also reverberate in the social content that is being created for Instagram. Artist collaborations, whimsical visuals, thematic post sequences. Their new experimental approach echoes their aesthetic in a way that conveys their updated message very clearly.
But something recently caught our attention. Something that has never been seen before on any premium brand's Instagram gallery —MEMES. Right after the series of posts showcasing behind-the-scenes images of their SS17 ad campaign, they also used the platform to very appropriately promote the new Gucci watches.
So, what did their campaign entail?:
Gucci has boldly embraced different social media content styles: behind-the-scenes content, and now memes. But, they’ve done it their way by appropriating meme formats and putting their own prestigious twist on them. They've managed to strike that difficult balance of pairing brand tradition with present-day adaptations.
The Gucci Instagram account has really become a place where they've put the spotlight on the universe of artists, something that seems to be a core pillar of Alessandro's work. But while that creative aesthetic stuff is intangible and there to serve the vision, we're here to focus on the physical and conclusive evidence. It's with that in mind that we ask: did the whole meme campaign perform well for the Gucci Instagram account?
First, let's start with the general numbers yielded by the campaign. After gathering all 30 published memes on a Board to assess them as a whole, here are the stats:
While a 0.5% average engagement rate on their Instagram posts might feel low, it's higher than their total average, which currently sits at 0.41% — surprisingly not an unusual number in the luxury sector. That means that this campaign actually outperformed their other content.
This was the top performing meme of the entire campaign:
Not only that, but 10 out of the 30 posts performed higher than 0.5%. Plus,the top 2 memes from the campaign actually became their top 2 most engaged posts of all time, dethroning the Obamas. That means that the photo above is actually Gucci's highest performing post of all time, with a current engagement rate of 1.55%.
The runner-up and second image posted of the entire campaign currently sits at 1.34%:
This goes to show that even users who follow prestigious luxury goods accounts have a sense of humor. People enjoy a good laugh as well as beautiful imagery. Which is precisely why the Gucci watches meme campaign seems to have resonated with their audience. So long as the content remains on-brand, it proves that experimenting with new concepts and developing content strategies that are Insta-specific is just smart marketing.
Luxury brands can leverage Dash Hudson during all phases of their social marketing strategy. The Scheduler lets you plan and schedule your Instagram content, while Social Media Analytics pull in comprehensive insights for both feed posts and Reels. Luxury brands will also benefit from LikeShop, a link in bio solution that creates a seamless shopping experience from your feed to your website. Campaign reporting lets brands see the impact of their social content on their overall campaign goals.
Luxury marketing will become even more innovative in the coming year. Brands that prioritize entertaining their followers will be the brands that come out on top. For more information on how your brand can incorporate new formats and technologies into your social media marketing strategy, check out Dash Hudson’s Report on Social Entertainment.
Marketing luxury products requires multiple steps, similar to marketing any other product — from understanding company goals and objectives, to determining a budget, to deciding what campaign and content therein will help you sell your product and reach these goals. One way that luxury marketing might differ from typical marketing activities, is if your brand has a long and storied history, this might require more buy-in for implementing ‘trendy’ content like memes.
Social media has changed luxury marketing in a few ways — for one, there’s more two-way communication than ever with the introduction of social channels, that allows both customers and social users to communicate their thoughts and opinions to the brand and their followers. Social media has also introduced different luxury marketing trends, like live runway show streaming, conversational commerce, and immersive AI powered shopping experiences, like Louis Vuitton in the metaverse.
Brands spend different amounts on luxury marketing, and it largely depends on the type of campaign, content, and goals your brand is trying to reach. Between January 2020 to May 2021, Gucci spent 11 million, Rolex spent 10.3 million, Cartier spent 5.4 million, and Burberry spent 3.8 million on digital marketing.