Reconciling Social Media with Luxury Fashion Brands: An Exploratory Study

Reconciling Social Media with Luxury Fashion Brands: An Exploratory Study

Wilson Ozuem (University of Gloucestershire, UK) and Kerri Tan (University of Wales, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5007-7.ch013
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Abstract

Modern developments in communication media are creating new networks of information diffusion which are profoundly altering the way in which people can construct shared ‘realities'. Internet along with its prototypical subsets, notably social media, is enabling the emergence of new mechanism of human association which are shaped by – yet also shape – the development of this new medium of communication. This chapter integrates social media theory and luxury fashion brand theory arguments to examine the knowledge benefits that this cultural transformation provides to the development of a marketing communications programme. The authors argue that the key to providing an effective marketing communication programme is understanding and responding to customer expectations through the integration of social media platforms and traditional marketing communications media.
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Introduction

The advancement of social media over the past decade has changed the way people search for and share product information. The amount of information available on the Internet has increased tremendously since and the dynamics of social media enables consumers to have more control over the information they seek and how they view it (Booth & Matic, 2011; Campbell et al., 2011; Mirchevska & Markova, 2011). In previous times, marketers relied heavily on traditional media such as advertising to convey information about products and they could only measure the success of campaigns through sales. Today, the brands can directly communicate with their consumers in real time through various social media platforms to promote products and at the same time they can evaluate and improve the effectiveness of their marketing strategies more efficiently as consumers actively provide feedback (Ozuem, Howell, & Lancaster, 2008).

Social media is fast becoming the most effective approach to boost brand awareness, understand their customers, receive feedback, as well as direct traffic to a company’s web site (Mirchevska & Markova 2011, p.231).

This chapter seeks to examine the impact of social media on brand perceptions in the UK Luxury sector. An increasing number of people; young and old alike, are spending significant amounts of time surfing the Internet. Facebook is today’s most dominant social-networking site with more than a billion monthly active users as of December 2012 (Facebook, 2013) Individuals log on to social networking sites to interact with others and to share images, locations, and other details about their daily life. Now, they are also using such platforms to share and discover information about brands. More often than not, human beings seek to socialise and to fit in and feel accepted within social circles. Accordingly, they allow themselves to be influenced by people around them ranging from family, friends, colleagues and others, and these are the people who assist them in moulding their perceptions of brands. These people are known as reference groups. Commonly defined as a conversation between a communicator and a receiver in terms of brands, products, or services, Word-of-mouth (WOM) is a diverse and complex phenomenon (Alon & Brunel, 2006; Harrison-Walker, 2001; Arndt, 1967). WOM is how reference groups impact on each other. Keller and Fay (2012) suggest that WOM advocacy is a new key to advertising effectiveness. Research they conducted in 2009 indicates that 20% of WOM discussions refer to paid advertising in media.

When compared with other WOM discussions about products or services, such “advertising-influenced” conversations are significantly more likely to involve recommendations to buy or try a brand when compared with other WOM discussions about brands (Keller & Fay 2012, p.462).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Blogs: Are perhaps the best-known form of social media; blogs are online journals, with entries appearing in chronological order.

Wikis: Are websites that allow people to add content to or edit hosted information acting as a communal document or database. The best-known wiki is Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia that has over 2 million English language articles.

Online Socializing: Refers to the person-to-person or group interaction by means of communicating with one another through the access and modifying of content such as pictures, status updates, music, videos and more, within social media platforms.

Podcasts: Refer to audio and video files that are available by subscription, through services like Apple iTunes.

Microblogging: Is the combination of social networking and bite-sized blogging, where small amounts of content (“updates”) are distributed online and through mobile phone networks. Twitter is the clear leader in this field.

Perceived Uniqueness: Past research reveals that scarcity or a limited supply of products heightens consumer preferences for a brand. Individuals express a “need for uniqueness” when they are searching for something that is difficult to acquire. Kapferer (1998) lists quality and uniqueness as two of the few key attributes of a luxury brand that need to be integrated with exclusivity. This goes to show that consumers want products of a particular brand that are not readily available so they could be perceived as one of a kind. Furthermore, it enhances their self and social image by adhering to their personal taste ( Vigneron and Johnson, 2004 ).

Social Networks: Are sites that allow people to build personal web pages and then connect with friends to share content and communication. The biggest social networks are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Luxury Brands: Fulfill a need to pitch to an affluent status, but they also make the brands more desirable.

Forums: Are areas for online discussion, often around specific topics of interest. Forums came about before the term “social media” and are a powerful and popular element of online communities.

Content Communities: Organize and share particular kinds of content. The most popular content communities tend to form around photos (Flickr), bookmarked links (del.icio.us) and videos (YouTube).

Social media: New mechanism of human association which are shaped by – yet also shape – the development of this new medium of communication. Social media is fast becoming the most effective approach to boost brand awareness, understand their customers, receive feedback, as well as direct traffic to a company’s web site.

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