Do luxury brands need social media?

I was reading Steve Rubel‘s latest thoughts on Social Luxury Is Personal, which left me wondering if luxury brands need social media.

Luxury brands are defined in part by their exclusiveness and inaccessibility; social media rebalances power and control via its inclusiveness.

  • I was walking down a London side street with my CFO yesterday and we paused to admire a Maserati drive past. Ford and GM are running influencer outreach programs; Maserati is not.
  • A couple years ago, I delivered a speech at a Google reception for luxury brands. Afterwards, I spoke with representatives from Bulgari, Cartier, and others who felt that my remarks weren’t applicable to them given the presence of brands like Coach and Ann Taylor in the room.
  • When I ran global digital marketing at PUMA, I worked with our Black Station group on co-branded presences with Philippe Starck, Neil Barrett, Christy Turlington, and Yasuhiro Mihara. At the time our comparison sites included Prada, which was forever just a single picture, and Helmut Lang, which was a list of links. Forget any usability or even worse, drive to sales.

All brands today are thinking about social. But do luxury brands need social media? Yes, but not in the way many would think – this isn’t about making the Burberry plaid into a uniform or seeing every kid on the corner wearing an Armani Exchange cap. Luxury brands can benefit from social CRM – which leads to more effective business and better understanding of consumers, but not necessarily Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. For more on social CRM, attend my webinar tomorrow.

Luxury brands can benefit from social business. But significant differences lie within operationalization and by all means, please don’t confuse “true” luxury with what premium or mass brands should do…that would be quite gauche. 🙂