Conversation with Schanel Bakkouche, Retaining Exclusivity via Social Media
Luxury brands are increasingly under pressure to expand their market beyond their typical customer base, particularly to younger consumers. Many luxury brands turn to social media as a tool to achieve this objective. However, social media, by its very nature is not exclusive, and is characterized by its mass appeal, accessibility, and overall availability. According to Schanel Bakkouche, founder of SFB Creative as well as an editor and stylist for Vogue Publications, “Social Media contradicts the very concept of luxury.” So how do luxury brands avoid alienating their core customer, notwithstanding the lack of exclusivity that is available via social media, and more importantly, the consistency required around digital content distribution?
According to Scahnel, the key is understanding that while luxury brands may be well-known and active on social media, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these followers own the brand’s product. She states, “This exclusivity of ownership helps luxury brands to maintain their stature. Essentially, these brands are known by all, but paradoxically consumed by a few.” However, she continues, “this doesn’t mean brands can rest on this product accessibility only,” and offers some strategies for luxury brands to consider.
First would be apply the personal touch and stay more authentic. She emphasizes, “Too often luxury brands will use one generic message, rather than developing localized or personalized messaging,” she says. And one way to achieve this is by using customer data to understand what customers are browsing and adding to their shopping cart, as well as which offers that are resonating with them. She underscores, “By using signals such as purchasing behavior, interest, context, and location, luxury brands can make consumer feel that communications are explicitly tailored to them. This mindset can help luxury brands approach content and service in more meaningful ways.”
Additionally, understanding the full customer experience or journey is key to engaging luxury customers. Schanel points out that there are tools that retailers can use to embed the entire shopping journey—from discovery to checkout—on social media. This can include livestreaming sales, integrated product catalogs and even augmented reality. She recommends that luxury brands employ shoppable content into their strategies, with a focus on personalization use data. “When connected with limited quantities of product, or limited offers, this can provide exclusivity for brands.”
When it comes to content specifically, Schanel says there are three objectives: 1) to attract the attention of the social media user and 2) to offer a compelling mobile experience and 3) to appeal to a global audience. Short form content tends to do best for all three as it tends to be more visual and not reliant on a deeper narrative that may be lost in translation or minimized when viewing on a mobile device. And while long form content does provide better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for brands, it is typically more expensive to produce. Again, she reminds companies to base their decisions on data analytics “involving all stakeholders of the company—creative and business—to ensure that data is meaningful and actionable to localize their efforts and brand experience.” This focus, she states, “can help brands continue to find opportunities, be creative and cultivate a consistency in voice across all media.”
Social media is everchanging and requires close, ongoing management, especially when it comes to luxury fashion. Partnering with the right agency, who understands the niche needs of luxury consumers and brands, as well as the overall market is key, in addition to understanding the many tools needed to maximize social media engagement. Schanel points out that each agency as their own approach, so it’s important to understand who you are partnering with. For example, she explains, “At SFB, our focus is on bring an editorial vision to their content, which supports the brand narrative and creates closeness and personalization between the brand and customer.”