It seems that among the various online strategies developed by luxury brands, Burberry has managed to become a leader in terms of social media. What they have understood is that social media is not about creating an iPhone App, creating a Facebook page or having a Twitter account. If the Brits have managed to be one step ahead in digital, it is because they are using social for what it is: a mean to an end, a tool which can be used for marketing purposes. Their use of social platforms is fully part of the overall brand strategy.
As Sonia Marciano, Professor of Management and Organizations at NYU’s Stern School of Business, said, « digital initiatives must be rooted in solid business strategy ». Social networks have to entail a culture change in the brand’s approach.
Burberry’s digital strategy is dedicated to providing and enhancing the online brand experience. The “Art of the Trench” is an example of what is called crowd-sourced marketing: their customers are advertising themselves, realizing a strategy of “advertising from below”.
The website was set up specifically to promote the iconic Burberry trench coat. The Sartorialist, one of the most famous Fashion blogger – Scott Schuman – was mandated by the brand to photograph millenials and showcase how an iconic piece can be wear in so many different ways. « The Art of the Trench » is a new way to do marketing to the Millennials.
“Attracting the Millennial customer to luxury started two years ago — I said that we can either get crushed or ride the greatest wave of our life,” says Ms. Ahrendts. “We brought people on the team who were Millennials.”; people like the actress Emma Watson, born in 1990 and who played Hermione in the Harry Potter movie series.
She is the new face of Burberry, and she knows how to talk to other Millenials. “She was 19. She is a Millennial. And it is all about attitude,” says Ms. Ahrendts.
To attract the Millennial customer, as well as “to play aggressively in the digital world”, Burberry understood that video was a key tool and a perfect way to create conversations. They started in 2005 with their own channel on YouTube but showed their advance by streaming the 2010 Spring/Summer line show at London’s Fashion week.
The show was broadcasted on 73 different websites, including those of Vogue, CNN, Yahoo and many more. The show appeared in 3D at global VIP events in L.A., N.Y., Tokyo, Paris and Dubai. It was undoubtedly the most widely distributed fashion show a luxury brand has ever staged, potentially reaching an audience of more than 100 million users, according to Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts. During the show Burberry appeared as one of the top ten trending topics on Twitter.
This new kind of social network enables a luxury brand such as Burberry to have a customer-focused brand strategy as well as being product centric. They are product centric with the “art of the trench” showing their iconic product.
But they are also product centric and very responsive when they sell key pieces from their A/W 2010 Prorsum collection during the runway show that was streamed online. That’s the proof that social media is not only about conversation, about showing the brand. That’s the proof that being in advance in terms of social media also means you’re focused on your ROI, measurement and on selling!
Who is beyond this innovative digital strategy? Of course Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, and Christopher Bailey, the brand’s chief creative officer. But Burberry has appointed Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) to work as its strategic marketing partner.
What’s the future for this brand that has just tried a new way to market its products by adding a Facebook app to sell Burberry sport?
Can we call Burberry the world’s first truly digital luxury brand?