Reuters has reported that new research indicates that fashion bloggers will help propel online sales to over $15 billion (€11 billion) by 2015. Italian luxury foundation Altagamma stated in its “Digital Luxury Experience” report that online luxury sales only account for 2.6 percent of the market but is growing at a rate of 20%. Moreover, “[b]logs and social media are setting trends more than fashion critics, with one out of two customers turning to Facebook or Twitter for advice before buying.” I’ve always had a feeling about the power of social media but now we have some actual figures to note.
Luxury fashion brands, normally the brands setting the trends, have lagged behind when it comes to adopting social media. It’s understandable. Many of these brands are based around the idea of exclusivity and social media is quite the opposite of that. How can a brand be everywhere and exclusive at the same time?
It’s not impossible. Brands like Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Tiffany and Gucci have a strong online presence – you can purchase online and interact with these brands on Facebook and Twitter. Being “available” online has not hurt the brands, rather, it gives their customers more convenient ways of shopping – what’s more luxurious than not having to get off your couch to order a $5000 handbag?
I would also suggest that being available online also opens the doors to new generations of customers – customers that are practically born with smart phones in their hands. Many luxury brands have a very loyal following – why not start appealing to customers when they are young? Many loyal brand customers start out as aspirational shoppers. Perhaps she can’t afford the 2.55 but she purchases Le Vernis or sunglasses or earrings. If you can appeal to that customer when she is young – and get her attention online (where other brands are getting her attention) you may have a loyal customer for life. In a year she may be buying shoes or saving up for a 2.55 or a tweed jacket. My point is, if luxury brands are making the move online, then the brands that don’t make the move are going to be left behind.
Chanel has done a nice job with their online presence. They’ve been a bit slow to act, but when they do, their online presence is well executed. Chanel Beauté is sold online and Chanel has introduced Chanel News (it’s own blog) Makeup Confidential (a beauty website), a Youtube page and a Facebook page. Chanel is not on Twitter and I am patiently waiting for the day that I can click the “follow” link. I just hope they do it soon because the younger set is increasingly far removed from knowing about the history of the brand. With other brands copying the signature looks of the Chanel brand, if the copycat brands make themselves more available to younger consumers, Chanel may miss out on breeding a new generation of Chanelphiles.
-Two readers from Europe pointed out that the Chanel e-commerce is available only in the U.S.
-Chanel has also released an iPhone app in addition to all the other social media listed above.