Firebrands insight: Luxury brands. Connecting to the catwalk

Luxury brands never needed the hard sell before. Exclusive and elusive auras have cemented names like Armani, Chanel and Burberry as the very pinnacle of aspirational brand. But in recent years, economic crisis and rapidly changing consumer habits have been forcing brands to play catch up with their customers; and whilst some are making leaps forward in audience connection, others are less than eager to join them.

2012 Spring/Summer fashion week season has been reflected in Firebrands* with huge jumps in industry Buzz and Reach. The Top Movers table becomes a luxury affair and Look and Feel is populated by new trends and live shows. But as each of the Fashion Weeks came to a close, so too does the Buzz around the brands; The whole sector drops significantly in ranking, with many falling out of the top 100 altogether.

So what is it about Fashion Week S/S 2012 that has fired up the brand’s followers? Live streaming, constantly updated twitter feeds and timely in-store experiences are bringing consumers closer to the catwalk than ever before. For the second year running, Burberry’s ‘Tweetwalk’ generated worldwide trends by giving followers exclusive sneak peaks to looks before they took to the runway. Further down the highstreet, Topshop Unique was busy reaching two million people in over 100 countries, moving beyond live streaming and putting their customers firmly
in control.

But when the last shows close and the catwalks are packed away until A/W, brands revert back to their old ways, resisting the loss of exclusivity and control that has ever been the bedrock of the luxury sector. Though almost all now have some sort of online presence, it is rare to find such responsive accounts outside of fashion shows

Social media and mobile apps have altered the way customers are exposed to, discuss and consume fashion; In a thriving, established online community, communication is the key to a luxury brand following. Gone are the days of all encompassing brand control (YSL, do take note); It is the likes of Burberry and away from the catwalk, Tiffany’s that are finally giving the elusive names a human voice.

By relinquishing a little of the control these brands are infamous for and keeping up the interaction outside of fashion week, the luxury market has a real chance of connecting with the audience that can’t get to the front row.

 

*’Firebrands’ is Moving Brands’ real-time global brand ranking tool. The site is still in beta, but if you head to www.mbfirebrands.com and register your contact details, we will let you know as soon as it launches.

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