Why Luxury Brands are Switching to Influencer Marketing Strategies

There was a point in time, perhaps in the 80s and 90s, when the distinction between luxury and ‘mainstream’ brands — as well as who had access to them — was extremely clear. These days, that gap seems to be narrowing. Many high-end brands, like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, have come to realise that expanding their demographic target audience is key to being more profitable

What exactly does this mean? 

In the last couple of weeks, the Louis Vuitton Multi Pochette bag has made some special appearances on Instagram. So far, the hashtags #multipochette and #multipochetteaccessories have accumulated less than 100 posts in total, which means that the brand is not running a seeding campaign. Yet, the bag is being subtly introduced by influencers and celebrities (>1M followers) ranging from @gigihadid, @lilymaymac, @xeniaadonts, and @chiaraferragni, to macro/micro influencers (300K – 1M followers) like @tamara, and @ninasuess, and even nano influencers (<50K followers) like @marvindvorak

This is unusual, because luxury fashion houses usually prefer other media platforms for product launches instead of influencer marketing. 

1 – Catering to Millennials and Gen Zs 

These groups espouse two main characteristics that are of interest to brands: (1) an ever-increasing social and economic mobility, and (2) the sheer amount of time they spend on social media. This means that younger people who don’t necessarily come from the high rungs of society are better able to afford luxury goods, thus opening up an entirely new demographic for brands like LV to consider. Since the bulk of their time is spent online, the only way to grab their attention is to take these goods online. 

For example, more than half of @xeniaadonts’s audience fits within this age demographic. 

Her biggest audience bracket is made up of millennials not unlike herself, so it makes sense for brands like LV to engage influencers like her as brand ambassadors. 

2 – The Narrowing Gap between Exclusivity and Accessibility

Brand exclusiveness, which is one of the defining factors of the luxury industry, does not mean that marketing efforts have to stay offline. According to Forbes, 50% of luxury goods buying decisions are influenced by what people hear or see online, which makes for an additional reason why these brands should consider a social media strategy. Not only does it account for half of the reason behind purchases, it also makes the brand visible to a much larger demographic of consumers.  

Forbes calls this the “zero sum game” between exclusiveness and visibility, where one at the expense of the other is not worth it. With the Multi Pochette, we see LV gearing towards establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between the exclusive appeal of luxury, and the visibility that social media marketing enables.

By getting various influencers to incorporate the new Multi Pochette into their posts on Instagram without being overt about a campaign,

LV is projecting a new image: their bag blends seamlessly into the lives of various people — from celebrities, to people just like you.

It is not so much of an ‘in your face’ kind of marketing stunt as it is an attempt to segue into the world of Instagram marketing. It is a subtle appearance, and I think LV nailed it. 

Further, not all the influencers mentioned above drew attention to the bag in their posts. In fact, if we compare two consecutive posts on Chiara Ferragni’s feed — one featuring the Multi Pochette and another featuring Lancel Official — we see how different the approach is. 

This makes the incorporation of the Multi Pochette into everyday lives far more natural and appealing to a greater demographic

3 – Shifting Designer Demographics

Creative Designers Virgil Abloh (@virgilabloh) of Louis Vuitton and Alessandro Michele (@alessandro_michele) of Gucci are two particularly interesting subjects to study when it comes to the changing landscapes of luxury fashion houses. While Gucci is not entirely new to influencer marketing, having bolstered their reach via ASMR marketing and the Gucci Beauty campaign, these are still revolutionary approaches for such a major fashion house. 

These men have been primarily responsible for changing the image of their brands as something unattainable by the average person. By expanding direction both in terms of creativity and marketing, they have made their products accessible to those who might not have considered purchasing, even if they could afford it.

Response to the Multi Pochette on Instagram

In terms of comments, which reflect active post-engagement, I picked out examples from @inthefrow and @dahyeshka: 

People are clearly interested in this new bag, all because an influencer they like or follow posted a picture with it.

It is also worthy to note that for a number of influencers mentioned above, the posts containing the Multi Pochette performed very well and made it to their Top Posts for the year. 

This further corroborates the genuine appreciation that Instagram users have for these posts, which can only mean good things for LV and the release of their new bag. 

Considering its position as one of the oldest fashion houses in the world Louis Vuitton is well on its way to infiltrating the influencer marketing industry. While its presence on Instagram detaches them from the concept of unreachable luxury, the world is changing along with the way we consume advertising, so it is important to keep up. After all, inclusivity and accessibility are far more important as qualities, and are great drivers for profit. 

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Written by Deesha Menon

Influencer Marketing at Popular Chips. Interested in social issues, narratives, books, social media, and machine learning.

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