Hot! SMW13: Interview with the Panel for Luxury and Social Media

SMW13 - Stage 2012

Luxe Society speaks to the Panel for the discussion of “Luxury and Social Media: Friend, foe or frenemy?” at the Social Media Week Singapore 2013. We are pleased to have with us: Paul Gage, APAC Regional Planning Director at Iris Worldwide, Mark Sandys, Category Director, Whisky and Reserve (Asia Pacific) at Diageo, and Kabilen Sornum, Head of Digital Marcoms & Ecommerce at F J Benjamin Pte Ltd, where they will share with us their thoughts and aspirations for the future of Social Media in the Luxury industry.

SMW13 - Paul Gage


LUXE SOCIETY (LSA): What will be your advice to luxury brand marketers and business owners?

PAUL GAGE (PAUL): As with any business practice, it’s vital to be clear on what the objectives are.  At iris, we call this your ‘social purpose’.  Social Media offers many platforms, connections and possibilities, but without clarity on what the business wants to achieve it’s easy to invest in what’s hot rather than what’s helpful.  Even worse, damage can be done to a brand.

The social purpose should be directly off the brand purpose and vision, and should indicate why the brand will have a social presence, who the audience is – buyers and/or admirers, what sort of content and interactions it will have with people and how the brand will behave and speak.

With luxury brands, conversations and co-creation are probably areas that are risky as they can destroy the myth, legend and exclusivity that exists to define luxury.  However, in a new luxury world storytelling, provenance, heritage and craft become even more important than just the label.  Social Media – especially visual and video social platforms – allow for deeper, interactive experiences that can appeal to both buyers and admirers alike.

I would suggest that luxury marketers think very carefully about how they maintain the whole image of the brand – especially the visual image.  Platforms like a branded you tube channel and pinterest allow for this, whereas twitter, facebook and instagram can easily cross the line of accessibility and wonder that should always exist in luxury.

In determining the social experience, I would urge brand owners to consider the ultimate experience of the brand and think about how that can be represented and augmented through social channels.  That ultimate experience could be in a concept store, it could on the catwalk, it might be in a hotel or bar, it could be within an art gallery.  The augmentation of social media allows for richer content and exploration that is often constrained by physical locations.

LSA: The key question that marketers will all be interested, will social media soon lose its magic?

PAUL: With any new opportunity, there’s typically a bubble of hype then a fall-out of disappointment.  I think the fall-out is already happening for brands that have dipped their toes in without determining what they really want to achieve.  The big difference for social media compared to previous ‘flavour of the moments’ is that the platforms and opportunities are continually innovating themselves.  Even within three years we’ve seen the rise of Instagram and Pinterest, a new focus from LinkedIn on working with brands, even the rebirth of MySpace (again).    I suspect in three years time, there will be more platforms that we’re talking about that we haven’t even heard of yet.  A trend coming through in 2013 is more exclusive, niche and closed social networks and platforms – such as Pair, Cheep, Pheed & Medium. These offer new opportunities and indeed magic that is ideal for luxury brands that want to tell a deeper, richer story, but don’t want to be suddenly accessible to everyone.

SMW13 - Mark Sandys


LSA: With the experience in breaking through key emerging markets, how would you advise potential business investors to adopt social media to break through new markets for their luxury products?

MARK: A strong social media strategy for any brand needs to stem from a strong marketing strategy. Luxury brands need to stick to the basic principles of having strong brand values, quality credentials and compelling reasons for consumers to aspire towards being associated with your brand. Building off this solid foundation, social media can then be used to build desire for the ultimate brand experience, through quality content created to suit each platform’s unique nature of engagement.

SMW13 - Kabilen Sornum


LSA: As the head of Digital Marcoms & Ecommerce for F J Benjamin, what the strategy for F J Benjamin when it comes to online marketing and directing these marketing traffic towards your Ecommerce site and converting them to actual Sales?

KABILEN: For different brands we have different online strategies. However, we follow similar principles when we strategise and execute. We spend a considerable amount of time researching and understanding our target demographics and markets. This leads to more structured and personalised online marketing. We believe in providing a similar seamless in-store experience to our online customers. We believe in conversation with our online customers via multiple channels and in providing an excellent customer service to each and every online customer.

Personalisation with a touch of Luxury leads to Trust which in turn drives Conversion.

LSA: What’s the outlook for the digital media and new media sites in 2013 for the luxury and lifestyle industry?

KABILEN: 2013 will continue to see an exponential growth in social media and mobile. We will be having more and more luxury brands embracing these channels. While social commerce may not be in full bloom this year, mCommerce will play an important role in the retail industry with the increase in mobile and tablet devices. More brands will be adopting an omnichannel mindset as social and mobile data sources are blended with in-store experiences. As the social data expands beyond simple analytics, brands will also be adopting social listening on a larger scale. Mixed reality will play an important role in bridging the mobile world to the retail world with higher engagement levels. As new media and devices enter the market, information will need to be optimised to provide consistent cross-channel experiences. The luxury and lifestyle industry will get more social and adopt new media this year.

To find out more and be involved in the discussion, do log on to the official site of Social Media Week Singapore 2013 and check out the Real Time Feed by Nokia! Tweet with the hashtag, #SMWSGluxe to join in the conversion!

Leave a Comment