African luxury brands must embrace social media

  

Many luxury brands have not considered social media as part of their marketing mix. The reason, perhaps, is that social media is incorrectly viewed as a medium for younger people who don’t fit the customer profile of such brands.

But this impression is misleading in at least two ways. According to one user report, social media users are not only more affluent, but also older than this audience is commonly thought to be. The report reveals that Twitter has a high percentage of high-income earners (27% earn over US$75 000 p.a.), and that a large percentage of Facebook users (37%) are over 45.

This proves that social is wrongly seen as not appropriate for luxury brands, and indeed, many do not have a presence on this medium.

Influence

What makes social media a great bet for brands seeking to grow their markets?

For one thing, search engines and vendor websites have lost their unchallenged status as first port of call when buyers search for products – social media is where information of this nature can be found quickly.

Whether you want to compare notes on a watch or a car, or to be informed on a newsy affair, you could probably get a conversation going quite easily on either of the two most popular social platforms, or search for products on Facebook rather than work through search results or trawl endless websites.

In short, if you’re not on social media, you forego the opportunity of targeting very qualified audiences who are quite likely to act on the recommendations of their networks.

New kind of luxury

Luxury brand consumers are not the country club veterans of old anymore. High-grossing industries are producing younger millionaires than ever, bringing a casual feel to the luxury market.

Certain genres of the music industry, for instance, are setting the tone among aspirational youth with luxury cars, jewellery and designer clothing. Stinking rich IT geeks present in jeans and black turtlenecks, but consume Dom Perignon and buy yachts. Soccer stars live the high life in every imaginable way. All of these groups add something new to the perceived identity of luxury brands.

As luxury brand communities change, brand owners can no longer only focus on media that reaches a static group of older consumers.

Still exclusive

This need not mean a loss of exclusivity, as some brands fear – it’s simply a case of making the club bigger.

What makes it attractive to do so is the fact that brand communities associate around actual consumption of brands today, and they do so socially. Abstract metrics such as wealth need not lead the way. At any rate, the above examples show that the correlation between wealth and age is not what it was.

Going forward

Where to now? Luxury brands are increasingly embracing the social Web. Others can follow suit by investigating the benefits of social and the most suitable outlets for their strategy. Engage a technology and creative team that has done it before, share your strategy and take it from there.

Simon Bestbier is E-Business Manager at Realmdigital




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