Content marketing is a buzzword within the marketing world, with social media as it’s foundation. It is becoming of increasing importance in the area of luxury fashion, as brands compete for new customers in a global market. In the past, luxury fashion companies were hyper focused on their key customer–a small sliver in the larger market. But today, in order to be relevant, they must also be part of the larger cultural conversation.
So what is content marketing? According to social media marketing expert Schanel Bakkouche, content marketing is first and foremost for the customer’s efficacy, a means of engagement with current and prospective customers, all with a unique brand voice. She states, “it’s all about entertainment and information.” And she points out, “content marketing is not a channel in and of itself, but a spoke or hub, within a larger conversation across various channels.” This can include a brand’s own website or stores, but also include external platforms such as Instagram, Tik Tok and Pinterest that provide organic and paid options.
When it comes to luxury fashion, Schanel points out that luxury brands have largely focused on photography, or imagery in general with high production values, that could be shared on television or in a magazine. Predictably, she says, the themes were focused on a brand’s history, materials and cultural associations. “For luxury brands, the chief value of content marketing lies in its ability to reel in, persuade and evangelize the most discerning audience in the language and elevated aesthetic that is particular to luxury.” These themes are still important, but need to be considered within a larger context, wherein many of the people engaged in content marketing may never buy anything from the brand, but still engage regularly. It requires brands to constantly produce and deploy content, which is costly and often comes without a truly direct return on investment.
However, as Schanel points out, brands cannot afford to not engage customers in this day and age. And despite its cost, it can be a highly effective discovery tool compared to traditional media as long as it is of high quality and strategic. “Great content” she says, “can often be a key recruitment mechanism for customer acquisition by deploying content via native advertising, or any paid social, advertising in-display advertising or increasingly social influencers in Instagram feeds today.”
According to Schanel, “In a world where consumers are receiving thousands of brand messages a day, and at a time where ad blockers are increasingly being deployed by consumers, brands need to find a way to truly connect with consumers by entertaining them, providing them with insight and information; delivering a sense of belonging.” And this can come via dynamic videos and images, but increasingly encompasses other formats including long format video narratives, elaborate posts posted multiple times per day and city guide applications. “I think that today everyone loves a good story and luxury consumers are no exception,” she says. She then adds, “The new frontier is all about branded series, styled like a Netflix series, complete with deep characters and cliff hangers.” Additionally, Schanel points out that shoppable videos are becoming increasingly important. While these have historical precedent, for example, Jean Paul Gaultier’s collaboration with Madonna in the 1980s for her concerts and music videos, they are now instantaneously shoppable. Customers can instantaneously shop what their favorite performer is wearing, while equally enjoying the narrative or song. And in some cases, customers can also buy the furniture and decor in the video. But this still requires attention to detail and a high quality production. The goal, says Schanel, “is not about just selling, but to cut through the marketing challenges for customer attention faced by luxury brands, bringing both loyalty from current customers and excitement from new customers.”