Content is commerce. This phrase is recently repeated like mantra, but what does it mean exactly for luxury brands? Branded content, perceived as the merger between advertising and editorial content, is the major millennial territory for luxury brands. For this reason marketers need to take a more defined approach, generating campaign specific content for their selected platforms that enriches the luxury consumer experience. Branded content should reflect three strategic points: understanding customers’ needs, overall inspiration and brand discovery. According to the research made by Aberdeen in 2014 conversion rate is 6 times bigger when products are linked to content and newsletter. Also, the growth of e-commerce sites leaders of branded content is 8 times bigger than other sites. In the millennial group this phenomenon is even more noticeable. 31% of millennials say they could buy a product if content is interesting (Newscreed 2014). Find out more about the evolution of branded content and discover inspiring examples of platforms and brands leading in this area.

The evolution of today modern, digital and interconnected marketplace is driving content to become more and more visual. Every day around 2 billion photos are uploaded to visual platforms, including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and other Social Media. Photo sharing has gone from an occasional activity to a full-scale obsession and many of these photos are visual endorsements of luxury products: dresses, shoes, cosmetics, holidays, hotels, yachts etc. Visual commerce started systematically benefitting from it, which is not surprising.

Absorbing images is a passive process, whereas reading requires a far higher level of cognitive engagement. The brain needs more effort to make sense of words. However, it has been proved that photos without text weaken the whole marketing communication and they are both interlinked: images attract attention and text engages the user. Few months ago, Facebook founder - Mark Zuckerberg, very well explained this evolution:

“First, people are gaining the power to share in richer and richer ways. We used to just share in text, and now we post mainly with photos. In the future video will be even more important than photos. After that, immersive experiences like virtual reality will become the norm.”

The sharing patterns and forms of content might evolve gradually towards virtual reality, but still, there are few golden rules that remain relevant for all luxury brands, regardless time, tools and changing consumers’ habits:

1.    Create coherency and desire. Continue to deliver consistent campaigns across all the consumers’ touchpoints: E-Commerce, brick-and-mortar stores, social media, videos, press, TV etc. The aim of a content strategy is not only to pass the message and increase the GRPs or conversion rates, but to convey an ensemble of values and develop a complex omni-channel experience. Luxury houses are better prepared than others to embrace these new possibilities of communication because both creation and desire are deeply rooted in their luxury DNA.

2.    Keep supreme quality. Pay attention to detail in every aspect of content creation, no matter if it is about TV spot or Facebook post. Luxury retail is detail. When brands started to launch their first content initiatives, they would get attention regardless of the quality of the content; the buzz would spread among the audience because of the novelty effect of such initiatives. But now, with huge saturation of content initiatives, highest quality will always defend itself.

3.    Adjust to the audience. Generate content that achieves its goals within the context of specific platforms & audience. In such saturated market audience pays very little attention to non-relevant content e.g. boring or not consistent with the brand’s universe.

4.    Stay true. Deliver highly relevant and personal content that will let the customers discover the true identity of the brand and not the general trend launched in media (e.g. recent contouring trend in make-up followed by almost all brands regardless their DNA). Before launching content operations, luxury brands should always question the relevance of the programs, topics and themes developed to assess if they are in line with their brand’s universe and global marketing strategy.

5.    Stay current. Do not promote old material but always generate new ideas and fresh content that can be presented in an understandable and visually accessible way. Appeal for novelty is not sufficient anymore to guarantee the success of content. Luxury brands should be trendsetters, not followers.

Only after having answered below questions can luxury brands have the legitimacy and credibility to implement a global content strategy.

  • What type of content is right for my brand? (creating desire, entertaining, educational, practical) 
  • What type of content initiatives will reflect my brand universe? (movies, backstage photos, short programs, white papers, consumer magazines, special events, etc.)
  • What is the media strategy of my brand? (digital, PR, Social Influencers, advertising in Press, TV)
  • How can we measure the impact of the content campaigns in terms of brand awareness? 

To sum up, content activities such as images combined with searchable text, videos and virtual reality are the new marketing weaponry. It is more important to know which of these tools are most useful for the purposes of luxury brand communication within a given context, rather than using it because others are doing the same. Marketing success depends on understanding the change of media consumption patterns in our culture and everyday lives of our customers. Therefore, one of the main things that luxury brands need to do today is to develop unique global strategy of coherent, qualitative, relevant and current content to reach people where they are consuming it.

The following posts will be dedicated to specific platforms or tools used by luxury brands from beauty, fashion and lifestyle areas that are leaders in modern content creation via: owned websites & Facebook (text), Instagram & Pinterest (photos), Youtube, Snapchat & Periscope (videos) and other tools (virtual reality).