Why Luxury Brands Can’t Afford to Ignore Social Care

The key to social success is knowing who your target audience is and tailoring your strategy to them. This approach should also extend to your customer care team. We’ve demonstrated how important social care is to the average consumer in the past, but did you know that it’s also what your wealthiest customers want as well?

According to The Economist Group, 57 percent among those earning more than $200,000, and 56 percent among those earning $150,000 to $200,000 use social media for customer care. This is compared to 43 percent for an average social media user. In fact, the wealthiest consumers even prefer social care to phone or in-person customer service.

The publication goes on to note that despite this compelling evidence, many luxury brands either avoid social care or don’t take it seriously enough. With nearly 90 percent of affluent Internet users actively using social media, it’s no longer a question whether the luxury market should adopt social care practices. It’s a necessity.

Understanding the Customer

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As we said before, a successful social campaign starts with knowing your customer. You need to invest in understanding the needs and motivations of your target audience. Social media has opened the door to a new world of fans and customers. The key to success here is knowing how to acknowledge and appeal to both.

While the average consumer’s top reason for following a brand is to receive deals and discounts, affluent customers follow based on a pre-existing affinity and desire to be kept informed about the brand. So while you get to focus less on entertaining the latter, you still need to provide them with something of value — even if it isn’t a coupon or sale.

This means being able to narrowly target your different audiences and how to leverage social media on your behalf. Create individual strategies to target specific consumer segments based on how they behave online, and identify which social platforms offer the best fit for your goals. Personalization is a big draw right now, so use social’s various customization features to your advantage.

Challenges Faced by Luxury Brands

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In the past, communications between luxury brands and consumers were made through traditional media channels, such as television or print. This helped to create an air of exclusivity or prestige for those brands. Social media, on the other hand, evened the playing field by giving consumers more access to both information and products previously unavailable to them. As a result, now non-luxury consumers can influence the success or failure of luxury brands.

One of the many challenges faced by luxury brands is creating an immersive online experience that meets brand standards as well as consumer expectations without diluting your exclusivity or prestige. Because of this, luxury brands require a more sophisticated social presence than other brands. In some cases this might mean devoting more resources to making social media a priority or larger part of your marketing strategy.

Best Practices

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Over the years, we’ve seen more luxury brands take center stage across social platforms and succeed. The Four Seasons Resorts and Hotels Group, for instance, has fully committed to social care. The brand has devoted the resources, both financial and human, to create and maintain a powerful social media presence. The company is active on both Twitter and Facebook, and has structured its social strategy to mimic what it offers consumers in person — courtesy, dedication, and exceptional service.

Your presence on the web is an extension of your brand, so make sure that the aesthetics and functionality are consistent with your offline image. Affluent customers expect to have the same experience with your brand online as off. While your goal shouldn’t be to recreate your in-store experience online, you’ll want to build on it. Tiffany & C0. sets a great standard for luxury brands transitioning from an in-store experience to the social sphere. Everything about its social presence is elegant and effortless.

Most important, consumers expect a quick response to customer support inquiries online. The attention to detail in your online experience won’t mean a thing if your customers click away unhappy. Make sure that your social care team is given the resources necessary to succeed. Customer relationship management is critical and if your team isn’t prepared, your brand image can suffer. And with more eyes on you than ever before, social care is a vital aspect of your marketing strategy that shouldn’t be ignored.

[Image credit: JD Hancock, Bailey Weaver, David Marcel]