A Digital Marketing Perspective: Growing Online Audiences in Luxury Fashion
London Fashion Week has always pushed digital boundaries in the luxury retail world – it was the first event of its kind to introduce live video streaming seven years ago.
During the London Fashion Week, luxury and premium brands pushed the creative means of engaging with wider audiences. From runway garments available to buy online, to celebrity tweets and videos, London Fashion Week has become an immersive experience.
Digital innovation will continue to be a key theme this year. The need to connect with online audiences, particularly luxury millennials, has never been more prominent.
According to Bain & Co, 2016 was the first year since the financial crisis where the personal luxury goods market failed to grow. The start of the year has been clouded by economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit and lower consumer confidence. Ultimately, this will test brands’ relationships with their consumers.
In this report, we look at ways in which luxury and premium brands can grow and engage their online audiences.
1. Understanding Your Digital Audiences
A brand’s customer often differs both in-store and online. It also differs to direct competitors.
Audience Profile: Ted Baker vs. Karen Millen
To illustrate this, we use a quick example of British-born premium lifestyle brands, Ted Baker and Karen Millen. Both brands market to the high-end consumer and have similar store presence in the UK, yet they attract very different audiences online.
Ted Baker has a younger segment and receives traffic from channels like Multimedia and Social Media. In contrast, Karen Millen has a higher proportion of people aged 55+ and relies more on traditional channels such as Rewards and Email.
Separating Discount Shoppers from Regular Shoppers
Brands also need to differentiate their discount shoppers from their regular online visitors. In Ted Baker’s case, people who have actively searched for “Ted Baker sales” (and variations of the term) skew higher toward females and older age brackets.
Ted Baker could then differentiate content and product offerings to target both audiences. For instance, sales promotions could be advertised on the Telegraph or Cosmopolitan, whereas new collections and latest trends could be featured on Vogue or Marie Claire.
2. Engaging with Luxury Millenials
Digital innovation has been largely driven by the desire to capture the “shopper of tomorrow” – the luxury millennial and luxury aspirant.
This market consists of people aged 18 to 34 who have grown up with technology and social media at their fingertips. They are typically more willing to spend their money on brands and experiences in comparison to the older audiences. Whilst they are interested in brands, luxury millennials are notorious for lower brand loyalty and aversion to “old world” labels.
In particular, Gucci has successfully re-invented its image from “old world” to “new world”, with digital and social technologies at the heart of its transformation.
Gucci has focused on rich content, such as its online video series of “The Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice”, resulting in enormous growth in traffic from social media, including a 190% rise from Youtube over the past three months year-on-year.
Louis Vuitton has also seen an upturn, including a 23% increase in searches from January year-on-year and a 332% increase in clicks from Facebook over the past three months year-on-year.
This is partly due to their recent partnership with Supreme, a New-York-based skatewear brand which has a global following of millennials. Their landmark collaboration has drawn considerable hype in the UK, with four out of the top 10 searches related to “supreme” and “louis vuitton”.
Other luxury brands could then take note of how social media, inspirational content and strategic partnerships could be used to modernise the brand and connect with millennial audiences.
3. Growing Relationships with (the Right) Retailers
Searches for retailer sites, such as Net-A-Porter and Farfetch, have grown by an incredible 45% over the past 3 years, compared to 12% for luxury brand sites. Yet, working with retailers has its pros and cons for brands.
Whilst these relationships can bring added sales and exposure to different audiences, many face the challenge of not knowing how their brand performs and how they are perceived on retailer sites. This is particularly problematic for brands who are sales-reliant on retailers.
A way to overcome this blind spot is through greater data collection, such as page views and search terms. The below example shows branded searches within Selfridges and Net-A-Porter’s websites, where only 3 out of the top 10 brands are present on both lists.
In Mulberry’s case, the brand ranks 3rd on Selfridges compared to 7th on Net-A-Porter. Searches on Selfridges are also more product-specific (e.g. “Mulberry bag”, “Mulberry purse”), than brand-specific on Net-A-Porter (e.g. “Mulberry”). Mulberry could then question whether investing on Net-A-Porter is worthwhile or not, if product searches implied higher purchase intent.
However, a different story evolves if we look at the audiences behind retailer and brand. Net-A-Porter draws the youngest audience and highest share of young educated and urban people – a key market for luxury millennials. Whereas, Mulberry has a higher skew of older people from key affluent groups*, including business professionals, self-employed and high-income families.
There is then a mutually beneficial opportunity for Mulberry and Net-A-Porter to collaborate further, if brand and retailer wanted to diversify their audiences.
Profile the variants within your online audience, such as: full-price buyers, bargain hunters, retailer shoppers and shoppers through your site direct.
Tailor content and product offerings for each audience segment.
Ensure the three facets of your digital strategy – social, content and partnerships, all connect with your targeted luxury millennial.
Understand how your brand performs within retailer sites by tracking page views and internal searches.
Compare audiences across retailers to see where the gaps and opportunities are.