Luxury brands slow to adapt

06 June 2011

NEW YORK: BMW, Clinique and Audi are the luxury brands making the most effective use of Facebook, but many of their rivals continue to fall short on the social network.

Think-tank L2 has assessed how well 100 "prestige" specialists leveraged this platform, with 35% of its index score based on "size and velocity" indicators such the number, and growth rates, of "likes".

A further 25% was drawn from "programming" traits including the quality of communications content, ecommerce integration and creativity.

"Engagement" factors incorporating the amount of fan posts, videos and photos uploaded made up 25%, and overall coordination across the digital space contributed 15%.

Carmaker BMW claimed the top spot on 175 points, boasting around 5.7m fans, and benefitting from responding to consumers in several languages and clearly identifying the staff member replying.

It has also added a "2Originals" tab asking the Facebook audience to submit videos, and hosts 26,000 user-generated photos and 400 clips.

Cosmetics expert Clinique was second with 165 points, praised in particular for the "Next Best Thing" app enabling shoppers to find replacement items for discontinued lines and buy them on its official site.

Auto marques Audi and Lexus took third and fourth respectively, recording 156 points and 154 points in turn.

Beauty group Bare Escentuals attained 149 points, and although it has a modest 325,000 followers, the 700 fan posts received each week was the highest of any brand.

This is encouraged by joint Facebook advertising alongside QVC, a tab pulling together its global "family", and connections with founder Leslie Blodgett's personal Facebook and Twitter accounts.

BMW has also created 54 regional pages, a model adopted by the premier performers, as L'Occitane provides 44 local hubs, Johnnie Walker on 33, Lancôme running 25 and Mercedes-Benz posting 21.

Just 12 operators achieved a "genius" ranking, a list also housing Benefit, Bobbi Brown, Johnnie Walker, Belvedere, Tory Burch, Ferrari and Infiniti.

Another 26 were "gifted", and the rest fell in the "average", "challenged" or "feeble" brackets.

"Every few decades, the prestige industry experiences a seminal moment where a breakthrough channel, marketing innovation or product reconfigures the landscape," said Scott Galloway, founder of L2.

"Prestige marketers are making significant investments in Facebook growth, but many still fail to authentically engage with their fans."

Elsewhere, the study argued having a big follower base did not always translate into interaction, as while Burberry, Gucci and Chanel all have over 3m fans, they use Facebook as a "broadcast channel."

By contrast, L'Occitane replies to 66% of fan posts on a weekly basis, beating Kiehl's with 52%, and Korbel and Vacheron Constantin, both registering 50%.

Indeed, only 48% of the luxury players monitored had a permanent link to Facebook on their own site, L2 stated.

Exactly half the featured firms linked to YouTube, with 43% pursuing the same strategy concerning Twitter and 10% doing so for Flickr, suggesting these tools remain outside the mainstream.

Companies which allowed netizens to add comments to their walls were awarded an average 107 points, measured against 82 points for competitors utilising a closed approach.

Analysis covering over 800 brand posts showed material discussing products yielded the strongest interaction levels, while promoting contests and deals actually solicited a more limited response.

The watches and jewellery, fashion, champagne and spirits sectors typically delivered the greatest number of engagements, trailed by automotive and beauty.

Data sourced from L2; additional content by Warc staff