Luxury Online: Social Influence in High-End Retail
Luxury retail customers demand sophistication from their brands. At the high-end of the retail sector, that means developing a robust online strategy to increase your brand’s online social influence. Luxury retailers like Nordstrom are confounding the marketplace by outperforming other retailers in today’s sluggish economy. Due in part to the loyalty and high disposable incomes of luxury consumers, the strength of luxury retail sales gives high-end retailers breathing room, allowing them to focus on customer experience management and other progressive strategies.
Online social influence is at the heart of luxury retail’s quest to connect with modern consumers. Simply put, online social influence is a brand’s ability to transcend traditional marketing tactics designed to talk “at” consumers and develop new, technology-rich strategies that distribute information through interactive social media platforms.
Although many luxury brands are enjoying healthy returns now, going forward consumers will judge luxury brand value based on social influence and their ability to forge meaningful online connections. With that in mind, here a few strategies luxury retailers can employ to build and optimize their social influence.
1. Build and engage social communities. Consumer conversations are the currency of social influence. By building and engaging social communities through blogs and other venues, luxury retailers have the opportunity to create dialogs with consumers and convert customers to brand advocates. For example, this year’s Fashion Week featured unique access for influential Tumblr bloggers, giving luxury brands the ability to connect with consumers through a highly popular microblogging venue.
2. Promote viral online recommendations. Online recommendations are the 21st century equivalent of word-of-mouth. Recent studies indicate that more than half of consumers conduct online research before they make a purchase, underscoring the need for luxury retailers to insert themselves in the process and encourage viral, web-based reviews. Social networking application tools like Empathica’s advocacy engine GoRecommend allow consumers to rapidly share positive retail experiences while equipping luxury retailers with powerful tools for promoting viral brand messaging.