Promoting and managing a luxury brand with the use of influencers and collaboration

*This is a write up of a panel hosted with renowned law firm Farrer & Co consisting of a group of experts specialising in the luxury market* 

Managing a luxury brand has never been harder and more complex than it is today. Digitisation has seen even the strongest of brands have to adapt and change to meet the needs of an ever-changing consumer.

Historically, luxury brands have held a huge amount of control over all aspects of their brand through more controlled and traditional forms of media and advertising, but with the rise of social media, social commerce and influencers who are free to do and write as they please whilst influencing a new generation of affluent consumers, how can luxury brands maintain a healthy level of control over the way they are perceived? 

Charlotte Parks-Taylor, Managing Partner of Cream UK

“The change we see our clients battling with the most is too much brand access – people are now open to talk about your brand however they want, whenever they want. This may seem overwhelming, but luxury marketers need to be careful about how they try and regain some of this messaging. They should choose where they want to focus on control but understand where they need to relinquish it to avoid alienating certain audiences.” 

Adam Knight, Co-founder of TONG Digital

“In China this power is becoming even more dispersed among younger generations, also known as the ‘microphone generation’. In a kind of rebellion against their parents/grandparents who weren’t given the same voice or platform to express opinions, this new group of consumers are focused on ‘peer to peer trust’ as a driving force behind their actions.

The perfect example of this was an influencer collaboration in China last year for the release of 100 limited edition Mini Cooper’s. Mini partnered with popular Chinese fashion blogger, Becky Li who promoted the cars via her WeChat account. The 100 turquoise Mini Cooper’s (each retailing at £31,500) sold out in 5 minutes.” 

With this in mind, how much have influencers changed the way in which we promote luxury brands and do these influencers hold all the cards? 

Lizzy Hadfield, Influencer (Shot from the street)

“From my perspective, brands are still very much in control when it comes to influencers because they get to choose who they work with on campaigns. Problem’s arise when brands don’t spend enough time researching bloggers/influencers to make sure they fit both their aesthetic and their target audience.

There’s a reason our followers love our content, and if you try and change that too much to fit with a brand’s wishes/guidelines then you lose your edge and the content won’t receive as much engagement.” 

Louise Kahrmann, Communications Manager Europe of De Beers

“When (as a luxury brand) you start working with third parties and influencers it can be daunting because there’s an element of trial and error. One of our most successful posts/campaigns was when we really let an influencer put their own spin on the styling of our jewellery. It worked because there was trust and collaboration between us and them.

We only work with influencers who are completely on brand and we work with Cream to help us research and source the right influencers for each project. We spend time collaborating with each one instead of trying to dictate the content, even meeting them in person and teaching them about diamonds and fine jewellery so that they can go away with that knowledge and create something beautiful for us.”

Charlotte Parks-Taylor, Managing Partner of Cream UK

“Luxury can be in danger of becoming a cultural vacuum, existing in isolation from the societal context. Brands which will succeed in the future will be sensitively in-tune with culture, and as such will be able to engage their audience in a meaningful way - provoking an intuitive and emotive reaction. The key to success is to make sure your brand’s identity and vision is strong, creating the perfect foundation to engage in social discourse and remain relevant in changing times.” 

Key takeaways:

  • Pick your battles – As a brand you can’t have control over everything, choose areas you can control but be open to collaboration and change to resonate with new audiences.

  • Choose influencers carefully and get the most out of them by collaborating long term and allowing them to use creative license over your products/services.

  • Ensure your brand identity and vision is strong before engaging with third parties or risk your brand being perceived in a different way.