Communication of luxury brands on social media: making people dream is not enough

The luxury market has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Global luxury goods turnover more than tripled between 1995 and 2016 and is expected to reach 390 billion euros by 2025.

This acceleration is driven by several underlying trends. The first is of course linked to the opening of the market to emerging countries and in particular China. The second concerns the net increase in sales made on the Internet. We then note a rejuvenation of the profile of the average consumer with the entry on the scene of Generation Y, also known as millennials or “millennials” (18–35 years). Finally, the new masstige practices ( Chandon et al., 2016 ) combining mass communication and prestigious customer experience are the latest trend.

These practices include influencer marketing, with the growing role of influencers, and the proliferation of official luxury brand pages on social media. On Facebook, the official Louis Vuitton brand page has more than 23 million users  ; Chanel includes over 28 million on Instagram.

Luxury: beyond dreams …

Research is particularly interested in the practices of users of these pages on social networks and their impact on purchasing behavior in physical stores and online ( Lee & Watkins, 2016 ).

In a research conducted on the Louis Vuitton brand, we developed an explanatory and predictive model that links the type of content consumed on the brand’s social network (which functions as a virtual community), the type of user engagement and finally the impacts of this commitment on trust, affection and loyalty towards the brand ( Albert et al., 2013 ).

When it comes to luxury products, two types of content are deployed on social media: aesthetic content that evokes the universe of the brand and arouses dreams and imagination; and informative content which describes the products and services offered and which deals with more material considerations, such as price, physical points of sale and above all the specifics of the associated products and services.

Regarding the type of use, research mentions two categories: passive use (consuming content) and active use (participating in creating and distributing it) ( Gerson et al., 2017 ).

We conducted an online survey of subscribers of Louis Vuitton’s official social media pages, who also own at least one genuine product from this brand. About 80% of all respondents are women and almost 77% of our sample is from the millennial generation; the rest of the respondents being representatives of generations X and baby boomers.

Our analyzes lead to several visibly counterintuitive results: the first concerns the importance of informative content which generates just as much user engagement as aesthetic content . The second demonstrates the significant role passive users play in developing and maintaining emotional capital and community loyalty to the luxury brand.

It therefore turns out that luxury brands should not be satisfied with arousing dreams and evoking their patronage actions, by supporting cultural and artistic actions for example, but it is also important to develop realistic content more closely. even to convince millennials to break the bank and buy something.

In research, we recommend more work that decrypts so-called passive behaviors and the profile of their protagonists, using big data analytical techniques . The difficulty is that the latter, in their use of virtual window shopping, are perfectly invisible in the brand’s community.

This article was originally posted on Communication of luxury brands on social media: making people dream is not enough

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