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One of the fastest growing markets in the world today is the Luxury fashion goods market. In 2017, its value exceeded $1.2 trillion United States dollars. By 2030, it is expected to be a market of about 500 million consumers. But what is it? The Luxury fashion market consists of brands that carry prestige through being expensive, rare, and higher quality than average clothing. Millennials, or adults born roughly between 1980 and 2000, are crucial. As the first generation to grow up during the rise of the Internet, they recognize the power of digital technology and expect brands to effectively communicate information online.
In this ever-growing market, marketing scholars and practitioners see opportunity—an exciting chance to better understand how digital technology co-mingles with the success of a brand. About 80 percent of the global luxury market is already influenced by digital technology. In just three short years, online sales are expected to account for nearly one quarter of all transactions. The interplay between digital technology and the success of this market can reinforce so much of what we already know about integrated marketing communication, help us refine practices, and show us areas where we still need improvement. A new entry by Zollo et al. in the Journal of Business Research seeks to explore this area more.
Marketing, but only with a purpose
Observation of the Luxury fashion market, and an abundance of past research, has shown that effective social media marketing is key to maintaining a successful brand. There is an important emphasis on the word “effective,” though, as previous studies have shown that poor social media marketing can sour consumers’ attitudes toward a brand and cost them online followers.
Consumers are not mindless zombies scrolling through social media brands for the sake of it. They have specific goals. Consumers utilize digital technology in order to gain information, to seek answers to their questions, and to understand the appeal of a brand. Thus, social media marketing campaigns should first and foremost be informative. Scholars of integrated marketing communication have long stressed the importance of effective social media marketing, and the Luxury fashion market shows that it is not just preferred, it is expected by younger adults in today’s society (Zollo et al., 2020).
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Benefits of social media marketing
When done properly, effective social media marketing can repeat significant benefits for brands by enhancing the consumer’s brand experience and leading to brand equity. Effective marketing should involve customized digital content, which strengthens the bonds between the brand and consumer. Now more than ever, consumers also enjoy entertaining content, which stimulates brand memories and a favorable attitude toward that brand (Zollo et al., 2020). For example, the Wendy’s Twitter account has amassed a large following by purposely “roasting”, or jokingly insulting, strangers online. While the account walks a fine line in professionalism, it is a source of good fun for millions of social media users who will then think back on those moments and view Wendy’s favorably.
To that point, professional and attractive imagery increases the appeal of a brand. Consumers – and in the Luxury fashion market, Millennials in particular – also seek celebrity or influencer endorsements to fully grasp or be persuaded toward the appeal of a brand. Finally, interactivity online is a large part of success. Consumers are interested to know when perceptions of a brand are deteriorating and being able to interact in some way with other consumers is the means by which they can learn this information. Consistent community input encourages brands to remain trendy and fashionable over time (Zollo et al., 2020).
There’s more to learn
The Luxury fashion market is reinforcing so much of what we already know about integrated marketing communication. We know that consistent posting and an effective strategy online is important. We know that content for the sake of content does not increase the appeal of a brand but that conveying information that assists in understanding the brand certainly does. We know that professional imagery is one key to success, and we know brands that can inject entertainment into their content do well. Still, there are several areas that can be explored further.
In the context of the Luxury fashion market, it makes sense to study Millennials. But how do findings in this age group vary among even younger consumers, as well as older ones? How does the effectiveness of these techniques vary across social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.? How does it vary across different demographics: gender, race, income level, etc.? All of these questions may be pertinent toward refining our views toward integrated marketing communication.
Zollo, L., Raffaele, F., Rialti, R., & Yoon, S. (2020, June 10). Unpacking the relationship
between social media marketing and brand equity: The mediating role of consumers’ benefits
and experience. Journal of Business Research, 117, 256–267.