There is no arguing that a shift has taken place in the luxury hemisphere. Whereas many luxury companies once denied Facebook under the belief that their target audience was not on the platform, virtually all of the major luxury houses now have dedicated Facebook pages. In fact, the public race to acquire 3 million fans left Gucci a close second to Burberry this past November.
Now that companies have a public facing presence and are allocating resources to Facebook via personnel and budget, what are the realities of this fanbase?
While Facebook does not collect financial demographics on their users, we do know that 35.4% of the entire U.S. Facebook audience is in the 35 – 54 year old age bracket and another 40.3% is made up of 18 – 34 year olds. For most luxury goods companies, this demographic comprises the majority of the target audience (comScore).
From a data standpoint, this is clearly a compelling argument for luxury brands to be on Facebook. However, understanding the behavior of the fanbase will empower brands to devise and implement communication strategies that truly enhance the brand image, serve the audience, and lead to actual sales.
For many luxury brands, there are two audiences that comprise their following:
1. Aspirational customers who covet and desire the merchandise and have high brand affinity. Outside of Facebook, these are the people who purchase entry level items like accessories, starting with something as small as a keychain or wallet, and building up to shoes, handbags and possibly ready to wear over time.
2. Actual customers, on the other hand, represent the vast majority of purchasers. These individuals are on Facebook, but they tend to be less vocal on a brand’s Facebook page. It is more likely that they post and engage when it is related to customer service topics or issues.
Both of these audience segments are important to luxury brands. Aspirational customers represent the actual customers of tomorrow, embody the current youth culture, and have more influence than ever in this digital age. They make the actual customers feel special about being in an exclusive group that has the means to attain luxury items.
Actual customers drive revenue, generate word of mouth, and provide a personal example for aspirational customers to work toward.
The success of a luxury brand on Facebook lies in having a content strategy that serves dual audiences.
Currently, a discrepancy exists between the behavior of fans and the brand’s image on Facebook. Brands tend to focus on the elements within their control (wall posts and tabs) and less on how their fans are behaving. However, if brands were more attuned to their fan’s mindset, they could tailor a communication strategy to drive engagement and business, making more of the investment they currently have in their existing Facebook pages.
For example, the aspirational Prada customer may be a purchaser of sunglasses, while the actual customer is purchasing collection pieces and handbags. Why not have Prada promote a new pair of sunglasses on their Facebook wall, with a direct link to shop within Facebook, or an application that allows people to try on their sunglasses, ask their friends opinions, and then purchase? In the meantime, a Prada shopping bag icon can be added to their own newsfeeds, broadcasting their splurge if they so choose. For actual customers, why not have a stylist providing tips on the top pieces of the season and how to wear them? Or perhaps information on the designer’s inspiration, fabric choices, and behind-the-scenes content, with the ability to shop and connect with others who have bought similar items, in order to share styling tips?
Brands need to start analyzing and understanding fan behavior so that they can mobilize their fanbase to build tribes of brand evangelists rather than simply a grouping of individuals with a common interest. By understanding how their customers tick, brands can serve content and experiences that feed the desires of both audience segments and reap actual monetary and community rewards.
Photo credits: Juzant
All articles are copy-edited by Gina Conforti