Burberry and Hermes Lead the Way in Luxury Brand Marketing

Luxury Brand Marketing experts Burberry and Hermes show how we can learn from their approach to e-commerce

In the world of luxury clothing brands, Burberry and Hermes are two which really stand out in effective luxury brand marketing.

Both of these brands are longstanding, well-known international status icons which have been at the forefront of the fashion industry for many years, with each featuring a range of product lines that are both exceptional and distinct. However, although similar in their status and products, both of these brands differ significantly when it comes to their digital e-commerce offerings.

Burberry, for example, is a brand that gets it spot on when it comes to digital e-commerce. The brand provides a digital experience which is perfectly aligned with the persona and image that it conveys to customers, and creates an experience and feel which is chic, modern and cool. This effective company branding technique uses a range of bold visuals throughout its website, featuring a dynamic homepage which integrates a range of interactive elements and breath-taking photography which manages to instantly capture the attention of any visitor immediately.

When it comes to creating your own e-commerce website, there are plenty of lessons which can be learned from Burberry and Hermes.

Luxury Branding Means Creating Compelling Visual Design

When building an e-commerce site, it is important to put together a design which is visually compelling in order to help differentiate your brand from your competition and catch the attention of customers.

Burberry is an excellent example of this, getting it just right by creating compelling, interesting product pages which are dramatically different from any that you will find offered by their competitors. They include details on the product pages which elevate the shopping experience and add to their brand value.

The product images are all shot perfectly and displayed on a consistent backdrop, which emphasises the product detail and ensures that every element of the product is shown in clear, crisp focus. One of the most unique and interesting features utilised by the Burberry website is the use of larger image tiles, making for a different yet visually appealing browsing experience. Along with that, any supplementary product details are sectioned off, allowing customers to effortlessly find the exact information that they are looking for.

Luxury Brand Marketing means a cosmopolitan crisp design interface

 

Infusing Branded Content

An e-commerce site is much more than simply a destination where products can be purchased. A good e-commerce site will provide a platform for brands to engage with their visitors and deliver content which provides a great experience by telling an interactive story about the brand. Burberry’s website is able to achieve this by seamlessly merging written, photo and video content and commerce.

This creates a brand image which is fluid and consistent throughout the whole site.

These experiences all serve to build an emotional connection between customers and the brand which is similar to that of visiting a physical retail store and browsing products in-person.

For example, Burberry’s Acoustic section features a range of musicians performing in natural settings whilst wearing Burberry clothing, with no evidence whatsoever of a hard sell but rather an exclusive look into the lives of these various individuals. And, the Our History section provides a compelling visual recap into how the iconic Burberry Trench Coat has developed and evolved over the years.

The key to luxury brand marketing is to create the scene for which your brand is at the forefront of the trend.

Modern Luxury Marketing means a Simple, Minimal Structure

Brands such as Burberry and Hermes often feature an extensive product line-up, making it challenging to effectively categorise each product.

This can lead to customers experiencing difficulty when it comes to finding the products that they want. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to ensure that the structure of your e-commerce site is as simple as possible, making it easy for visitors to navigate the products which you have on offer. Burberry have again managed to do an excellent job of this, designing a site which makes exploring products a simple yet intuitive experience.

The dynamic directory which is included on the left-hand side of the page is easy to navigate and allows customers to search products by both category and collection.

 

Brand Design means innovating the user interface

The menu unconventionally places as a list on the left of every page. Using a cascading format of decreasing font-sizes and down arrows, the menu is easy to navigate and indirectly supports their company brand motif.

More on luxury branding marketingHow Pinterest’s New Features are Encouraging Users to Shop

Balancing Creativity with Functionality

We’ve talked a lot about how Burberry can be used as a great example of e-commerce site design, but what about Hermes?

Whilst also a world-class luxury fashion brand, Hermes is severely lacking when it comes to their digital e-commerce experience. For example, certain brands go too far when making their sites stand out from the competition, and they end up leaving their customers a little confused.

Hermes is a prime example of this, since the brand’s website presents an unconventional design that although interesting and compelling, is difficult to understand and has raised questions from customers as to whether it actually functions as an e-commerce site. The homepage looks more like an art gallery than a fashion store, and there is a serious lack of information about both the Hermes brand and any of their products.

Without these elements, Hermes is missing out on a huge opportunity to deliver a seriously engaging brand experience. A miss-step in effective luxury brand marketing, wouldn’t you agree?

Interesting, Robust Product Pages

On many of the product pages shown on the Hermes site, there is a stark contrast to the wealth of information offered by Burberry when it comes to the product descriptions.

Rather than going into detail, Hermes offer only a few words, with sparse, to-the-point descriptions that provide little further information about the product pictured. The lack of information doesn’t just stop there, either – many of the products are presented on sketches rather than on models, and are limited to just one or two product photographs.

Two world-class fashion brands, but two very different e-commerce sites that can give you a great idea of what and what not to do.

Instagram and Fashion: From Gimmick to Strategic

For a number of reputable and well-known fashion brands, the social photo-sharing network Instagram is no longer simply a ‘gimmick’ used to create a buzz during fashion weeks.

Recently, Instagram has been taken much more seriously by a range of fashion brands, and become a pivotal, serious part of their social marketing strategy.

Last February, we saw London Fashion Week in full swing, meaning only one thing – the fashion brands were working overtime. Along with putting the final touches on runway ensembles, today, social media campaigns are just as important. After all, a well-thought out and well-landed social media marketing campaign can see any fashion brand hit the headlines, create a huge buzz, and see coveted levels of customer engagement.

For Fashion Week and beyond, Instagram seems to be the social networking platform of choice when it comes to the fashion world. In the month leading up to London Fashion Week 2016, there were almost 6,000 Instagram posts with the hashtag #LFW2016, compared with just under two thousand Twitter mentions over the same timeframe. This is a sharp contrast to last year’s social media activity, which saw over six thousand Tweets using the hashtag #LFW2015.

As a social networking platform, Instagram had already proven its popularity amongst fashion brands during New York Fashion Week at the beginning of the year. For example, Tommy Hilfiger placed several specific ‘influencers’ in an ‘Instagram pit’, separate from the one which was designed for professional photographers. In the UK, well-known high street fashion brand Topshop hired renowned fashion photographer Nick Knight to capture their fashion show through a series of images which were released in real-time via Topshop’s Instagram account.

Instagram Rises in Popularity

Since the inception of Instagram six years ago, it has steadily developed and been lovingly adopted by a number of fashion brands as the go-to social sharing platform for marketing and advertising new products. However, when it first started out, it was often seen as simply a ‘gimmick’. Like the majority of social media platforms, many fashion brands saw the newly formed Instagram as just another platform that they would have to invest in and many were unsure whether or not it could become bigger than Twitter.

However, the visual nature of Instagram means that brands are not only able to use it to show off their products, they can use it to sell a lifestyle. Instagram is also one of the more effective marketing platforms for stilling consumers’ fear of missing out. Since we are now living in a fast-paced world where people want to see things instantly, fashion brands has taken full advantage that there are people who are scrolling through Instagram, 24/7. Brands choosing to use Instagram for their fashion shows can give off a backstage feel, whilst also giving fashion designers an amazing opportunity to showcase their latest collections on a global scale. In more ways than one, Instagram is doing the job that fashion magazines used to do by bringing exclusivity to a wider, mass-market audience.

Embracing Instagram

When it comes to successfully implementing Instagram into the marketing strategy, those fashion brands which are relatively young tend to be the ones which have picked it up the most effortlessly and quickly. Instagram has worked incredibly well for newer, younger fashion retailers who want to market their products, especially to a female audience. They often tend to post a whole mixture of different posts, for example dividing posts between product images and videos and memes, quotes and other lifestyle elements such as coffee or pizza. On any other platform, this type of approach could well come across as patronising, but it works well with Instagram, offering optimum customer engagement.

It’s not just the young, up-and-coming retailers who are embracing Instagram, either – high-end, luxury brands such as Burberry are also frequently seen updating their account on the social sharing platform. With over six million Instagram followers, Burberry frequently uses the platform both to promote and build anticipation for fashion shows.

The Future of Fashion

Whilst Instagram is certainly an attractive tool when it comes to the social media marketing department, brands should be aware not to forget the basics when it comes to putting together their social media strategy. Although it is important for brands to look toward the future and embrace new ways to share their collections, it is vital that it is done in such a way which works well for them. When it comes to social media marketing, and indeed marketing on Instagram as a platform specifically, there is no one-size-fits-all solution – what works well for one brand may not go down so well for another. Because of this, it’s crucial for fashion brands to consider the different social media platforms carefully before deciding which is the best one for hosting their next campaign.

Those in the fashion industry believe that going forward, Instagram is going to become a far more crucial part of fashion brands’ strategies. In the future, we should expect to see more campaigns shifting towards social platforms ever further, and more and more brands are expected to run their campaigns solely on platforms such as Instagram, for example one of the latest campaigns by Calvin Klein featuring Justin Bieber.

Whether it is streaming video or enhancing buying function, social media becomes more effective in fashion marketing due to the different functionalities it provides when it becomes a part of a brand’s long-term strategic plan.

Social Media: What’s the Point for Luxury Brands?

Social Media is Changing. Filled with Images, Trends and Customers; Luxury Brands have a lot to gain from a strong Social Media presence.

Research conducted by the Engagement Lab at Emerson College suggests that luxury brands that are performing well in social media engagement are more likely to be falling behind when it comes to word-of-mouth performance.

On the other hand, those luxury brands who have a high level of success with word-of-mouth were subsequently not doing as well in the social media engagement department. The research showed that brands such as Tiffany & Co., Valentino, Kate Spade New York and Christian Louboutin showed high eValue scores, whilst Gucci and Ralph Lauren scored higher when it came to offline conversations.

Both Online and Offline Sharing is Crucial

With this information, the researchers at Emerson College’s Engagement Lab came to the conclusion that in order for a luxury brand to achieve optimum success, both online and offline sharing is crucial. Sharing and promotion both online and offline is essential for growth in the luxury market, however, the boundaries between the two are becoming increasingly porous.

The researchers stated that brands which take full advantage of the fluidity between both social media and word-of-mouth engagement are able to create a range of brand experiences which merge both digital and real conversations, cutting through the boundaries in extremely effective, powerful ways. These conversations are able to encourage desire for the products, promote affinity with the brand and drive more sales than those currently taking place either online or offline.

Instagram’s ‘Label Lust’

Last year, Graziashop was amongst the first Instagram advertisers. Today, it leads the way with Instagram activity, part of its ‘Label Lust’ campaign, which is designed to use storytelling to raise brand engagement and awareness. As part of this campaign, Graziashop used Instagram to post a series of fun and quirky sponsored images of UK females ages 22-45 with an interest in fashion tips, fashion blogging, and designer accessories such as handbags and shoes. The images followed the storyline of a Graziashop character over a six-week timeline, showcasing a variety of different products from the Graziashop range and really relating to the brand’s shopper lifestyle.

The campaign was designed to echo the types of stories that fashionistas tell both each other and themselves about the products that they both dream about having and actually purchase. Tales of falling head over heels with a pair of heels, love at first sight, and even ‘the one that got away’ – when an item you really want is sold out.

Read MoreInstagram and Fashion – How luxury brands can tell a story and create a demand for your product.

Graziashop Instagram Results

Graziashop certainly made the right choice when it came to choosing the right social media platform for this campaign. With its massive reach and ideal, impactful 30-second video format, Instagram showed social traffic peaking at 18% of overall website traffic during the period of the campaign. Above all, however, Graziashop showed exactly how using the right social media platform can lift a brand’s marketing message well beyond the realms of social media.

As pointed out by the Engagement Lab, there is currently a huge opportunity for luxury brands to take advantage of the fluid boundaries between online and offline marketing to start conversations which will continue in the real world and lead to making a purchase. When Instagram launched paid marketing in the UK, Graziashop was one of the first brands to get on board, and has certainly shown how Instagram in particular as a social networking site can help your brand message reach the consciousness of your audience.

Should Luxury Brands Remain Out of Touch?

Should luxury brands be exclusive, scarce, and never ‘sell out’? The opinion that true luxury brands do not care about shareholder value couldn’t be further from the truth in today’s day and age. Luxury is all about desirability, excellent service, product excellence and essentially a brand promise. If the strongest value in a luxury brand is exclusivity and scarcity, it will likely not be a brand for long. The continued and increasing popularity of social media, interactive apps, live streaming and even buyable shows held at the various Fashion Week events show quite clearly that today, everyone wants runway.

Even when they are not buying, your customers will want to talk both to you and about you. Dealing with social media means working out when is best to talk to customers, and when to sell to them.

Affiliate Marketing for Luxury Brands

For years, affiliate marketing has sadly been seen as the ‘poor’ relation of the digital marketing family. Tracking networks and technology channels typically sell this channel as a ‘no-win-no-fee’ type of method for padding out existing marketing plans. However, this has quickly changed in recent times, with affiliate marketing finally coming of age.

Affiliate Marketing: Not Just Voucher Codes

Affiliate marketing is no longer just about voucher codes, cash back or last-click for advertisers – it is part of a holistic approach to digital marketing which promises a real, sustained return on income for high-end and luxury brands. Modern, managed affiliate programs use a range of sophisticated groups of content publishers, for example Conde Nast, a mainstream, offline publishing house. This is performance marketing made possible through deep partnership, and levered through tenancy, editorial, email, blogging, and even incentives such as cashback or voucher codes. These are partnerships with high volume, niche sites which are able to deliver the right kind of prepped-to-buy, long-tailed traffic which is simply unavailable anywhere else.

Risking Losing Control of Your Message

For years, affiliate marketing programs and technology companies used the size and scale of the luxury channel as a key selling point, using it to promise brands access to tens upon thousands of affiliate marketers. And, who can blame them, considering that they worked on revenue-based tracking fees that were generated by activity? However, this was definitely not what the majority of luxury and designer retailers wanted to hear, already feeling nervous about losing their brand message.

Only now are brands finally being given the bigger picture, with dedicated digital agencies selling these solutions as just a part of a wider and much larger media strategy. When it is managed properly, affiliate marketing allows brands to effectively deliver the relevant messages to customer segments that are highly targeted. But, it is the size and scale of the network which makes all of this possible in the first place.

Isn’t Luxury About Exclusivity?

Many luxury brands pride themselves on being exclusive – so why would they want their valuable name being thrown around on an affiliate site just like everybody else? The main thing is, success in the digital age of today often requires an essential change of mind-set. As the buying cycles of customers continue to accelerate and competition begins to stiffen in every aspect of the market place, it is important for luxury brands to consider and embrace a change of direction.

In today’s day and age, there is no longer a place for scarcity as the strongest value in the armoury of a brand; the vast array of choice and quality which is widely available elsewhere is able to fill any sales vacuum. Instead, luxury brands today are defined by qualities such as brand excellence, product quality, level of service and desirability. These factors are key to the success of luxury brands during the digital age and with this in mind, affiliate marketing is one of the most effective ways to send ready-to-buy customers directly to online stores.

Luxury Is More Popular Than Ever

No longer are luxury brands something that only the A-Listers purchase – nowadays everybody wants a piece of the runway. Research shows that over 50% of UK millennials are purchasing luxury goods online, whilst 85% of those who buy luxury products are frequent users of social media. According to Google, every one in five luxury product purchases takes place online.

When it comes to the reputation of luxury brands, it is clear to see that participating in events such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday online sales does nothing to dim it. In fact, luxury goods sites such as NET-A-PORTER saw Black Friday 2015 being their best-selling date that year, with one item per second selling on their website. What’s more, today’s customers do not think any less of a luxury brand for offering vouchers and deals – in fact, luxury customers are four times more likely to be searching for deals on Black Friday than non-luxury customers.

Which Brands Use Affiliates?

There is now an impressive line-up of brands using the affiliate marketing channel as part of their marketing mix. These include Barneys New York, Agent Provocateur, Liberty London, and Burberry to name just a few. These brands know and understand the value of curated conversation and content-fuelled buzz to their brand; they are constantly looking for new and exciting ways in which they can engage with their customers through affiliate marketing. Crucially, brands such as these are realising that targeted partnership, careful planning and innovative execution is what is needed to ensure the biggest ROI.

Luxury consumers today are not looking for exclusivity or scarcity – they are impulsive, savvy and switched on, which is why taking advantage of affiliate marketing is working better than ever for luxury brands.

How Pinterest’s New Features Are Encouraging Users to Shop

Pinterest may be a platform which is best known for generating inspiration and putting ideas out there, but now it is offering its 100 million monthly users a wider range of opportunities to buy their favourite products online. With the launch of a range of new and major features, here’s how Pinterest turned from a pin-board to an e-commerce site overnight.

Purchase from Anywhere

Since launching buyable Pins in June of last year, users have been able to use Pinterest to not only search for, but buy items directly from the site. However, until recently, this function was only available to mobile app users. With the launch of Buyable Pins on the web, Pinterest now hopes that users will be more inclined to make purchases through the site itself. The amount of items which are available to purchase through Pinterest have risen significantly from 2m to over 10m in the space of just a year.

Shopping Cart Feature

Along with the option of being able to use both the site and the app version of Pinterest in order to make purchases, the platform has also added a new shopping cart feature in order to allow customers to add multiple items and only check out when they’re completely done. This mimics the shopping experience which customers of many well-known e-commerce sites, such as eBay or Amazon, have. This feature is expected to encourage users to stay on the platform and will also remind shoppers who have browsed and forgotten about chosen items.

Visual Search

Whether you are looking for inspiration or specific products, a range of new search functions added to Pinterest means that users can browse in a variety of different ways. Instead of typing key terms into the search bar, users are able to click on the visual search button that’s included with any pin in order to view a range of related items. Alongside this, Pinterest has also introduced a new camera functionality, with the idea being that the user can simply take a photograph of any item whilst in-store, and then use Pinterest to find something similar to purchase online. This allows users to use Pinterest as a gateway to find exactly what they are looking for, creating a way to move from the physical to the digital shopping experience.

With these features still relatively new, whether or not Pinterest will be a destination shopping site has yet to be seen.