ASIA: Luxury marketing is increasingly about experiencing the brand as a way of building awareness and loyalty, and with Southeast Asian consumers among the heaviest users of social media, a digital experience is becoming a requirement for upmarket brands in the region.
According to Amrita Banta, managing director of luxury market research firm Agility Research, social media is "the number one" source of brand awareness for rich consumers in Asia.
In the past, luxury brands were reluctant to embrace social media for fear of losing their air of exclusivity, but the nature of the platforms has forced their hand.
"With or without the brands' consent, consumers have commandeered the conversation surrounding brands," Christel Quek, VP/ Southeast Asia for social media analytics firm Brandwatch, told Southeast Asia Globe.
She added that smart luxury brands could utilise social networking sites and apps to both "understand their audience and steer the direction of their public image".
Banta observed, for example, that social media amplified people's tendency to compare themselves to others, something which brands can tap into.
Some luxury brands, including Giorgio Armani, Jimmy Choo and Burberry, have invited consumers – and millennials are most likely to do this – to upload images of themselves wearing their favourite brand.
"Interestingly," noted Victoria Cook of media and marketing services agency Mindshare, in Culture Vulture, Luxury Edition, "fans are displayed alongside celebrities, thereby giving them equal status in the community of advocates".
But, in the social equivalent of an arms race, social networks for HNWIs (High Net Worth Individuals) are now appearing – ELEQT, Quintessially, Best of all Worlds – where membership is invitation only.
"The idea is that their networks are able to meet like-minded affluent people from around the globe and engage with their favourite brands, charities and hotspots," explained Cook.
Data sourced from Southeast Asia Globe, Inside Retail Asia; additional content by Warc staff