Spontaneous and fleeting storytelling with Snapchat

Making us dream is part of luxury brands’ DNA. Their ads are conceived to trigger aspirations or emotions, and you end up endlessly idealizing the brand. These brands mostly leveraged traditional ads for a long time: print ads, billboards, TV spots… Then came the digital age and ads were popping on your favorite websites, especially as targeting techniques became more and more efficient. Social media were then yet another tool to promote brands’ messages.

Today, we are super-connected – so connected that it’s nearly as if we had a sort of digital “transplant” to our hand. Smartphones are kings. Obviously, pop-up ads are extremely annoying and having a 15-second spot of my favorite luxury brand wouldn’t make me happy when I’m opening an app. Social media help, as brands can post there – and Instagram is helping them push visual contents where customers are expecting – and enjoying – them. Still, non-spontaneous visuals are not enough to make a digital-savvy customer excited about a brand for long.

Valentino snapchat during the Paris Fashion Week preperation

Valentino snapchat during the Paris Fashion Week preperation

Communication apps are multiplying and new features come up. Brands are more and more welcome by apps to reach customers on their messaging channels. Line did it, and Snapchat, too. The big difference with Snapchat – as I’m guessing you know – is that contents are taken spontaneously (you can’t really edit them) and are fleeting (they usually last 10 seconds). Given these constraints, some luxury brands have decided to make the most out of the app and share some behind-the-scenes moments with their customers, as well as creating an exclusive customer experience on their smartphones. Valentino and Michael Kors did so during the fashion weeks. Snapchats are therefore a great way to share some extracts of a fashion brand’s preparation for a show. It’s applicable to any luxury industry I believe, as long as brands have a story to tell.

The main point I believe makes Snapchat such a great channel is that it’s usually a channel to connect with friends, and not many luxury brands use it. It’s probably one of the most appropriate tools at the moment to engage with customers as would a real person. It’s most effective when brands are targeting millenials, among which Snapchat has the highest penetration, and it allows brands to use a language they might not overtly use on more serious social media posts (e.g. using emojis millenials enjoy).

Celebrities everywhere: why models and brands post the same things

Every time I check my Instagram feed, I feel like I’m following celebrities rather than brands. I guess Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are helping me stay up-to-date with the who’s who of luxury. The fact that brands would give so much weight to models and other famous people on their social media channels made me wonder if it would be so much different to follow celebrities instead of brands. So I tried.

The main difference I felt is that celebrities share their daily life, which is punctuated by partnerships with brands – while brands promote products on their own or items worn by an A-lister.

This little experiment means I now have to scroll through much more content to get to what I’m looking for: the success of posts that include brands. Because some celebrities, including top models, have a lot more followers and fans than brands, their posts are usually far more successful (I’m defining success by the usual likes, retweets, regrams, comments, etc.) than those of brands. This explains why you may see (almost) the same picture on different accounts, and even more so if you’re following brands and celebrities on multiple channels.

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Remember I was saying top models have more followers than brands? Well, not exactly. Some do, others don’t. It really depends on the popularity of both brands and celebrities. If you take Instagram, Michael Kors has more than 3 million followers, Sonia Rykiel has nearly 60 million and Isabel Marant 400 thousand. Karlie Kloss has more than 2 million followers while Georgia May Jagger has about 600 thousand. What seems to be true, however, is the fact the fans engage more with stars than with brands. A picture from Karlie Kloss during the New York Fashion Week (click on the picture above), and a very similar one from Michael Kors (click on the picture below) got different results: the model got a stronger engagement with more likes than the brand, while Karlie Kloss has less followers.

This, of course, explains why duplications often happen and ensure brands and celebrities maximum visibility while it helps them to create a community of fans that feels connected to the brand (or celebrity). It’s also a good thing to know so that you don’t lose your mind when you get this feeling of déja-vu!

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Prestige hotels Marriott accepting Apple Pay this summer

With Apple’s keynote taking place earlier on this week, Marriott International, Inc. announced on March 9th that eleven of its hotels will be accepting Apple Pay starting this summer.

Marriott is already a highly digitized company. Indeed, the business intelligence agency L2 Inc. released a Prestige Hotels ranking after assessing companies’ digital efforts, and Marriott ranked 6th in 2014, making it a “gifted” company (which is the 2nd ranking after “genius”).

Apple-Pay-in-action

The hotel company owns prestige hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton hotels that will be among the first hotels to use Apple Pay. Marriott International has already launched an entire campaign aiming at getting customers engaged with the improvement of Marriott’s service. This “Travel brilliantly” campaign is showcased in a beautiful and user-friendly website that is easy to navigate, and lists Marriott’s innovations to make visitors’ stay even better. For example, the company launched several apps, allowing travelers to program their visit (check-in or check-out, room booking) or to use guest services (digital key to the room, guest requests).

Using Apple Pay in Marriott hotels will take these convenient digital services one take further to transform travelers’ stay into an even smoother, practical and enjoyable experience. It will be available on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, as well as on the Apple Watch once the company will have developed the adequate app.

Mercedes tries virtual reality with Google Cardboard

The luxury car industry doesn’t benefit from the same product lifecycle as the fashion industry, for example. Because consumers won’t necessarily buy a new car for the next 5 years, car companies have to think of innovative ways to make consumers dream about their brand. Here enters Mercedes and its recent app: Mercedes VR for Cardboard.

Cardboard is Google’s virtual reality tool (VR), enabling consumers to experiment VR at home, while allowing developers to create new apps and improve the system. It’s a great leverage for marketing teams as it’s a tool thanks to which consumers can immerse in a brand’s environment (say, the historic home of a brand), or look at a product in 3D.

Google Cardboard (source: Google)

Google Cardboard (source: Google)

Not many brands have seized this opportunity yet, and Mercedes sets a new standard for both car brands and premium or luxury brands. The Mercedes VR app gives users a taste of a specific model of cars, making them feel like they’re in it. Mercedes strengthens its image of an innovative brand, willing to extend its relationship with consumers beyond stores, purchase, and even beyond CRM and community management. Users get a taste of the car while being on their smartphone – and this is cooler for them than augmented reality on a billboard.

I believe VR will soon be used by more brands, as we see already augmented reality billboards in the streets. Brands can leverage VR technology to tell their story to consumers, which is – as we have seen before – one of luxury brands’ key advantages.