Luxury Appliance Brands Go Social
I want to start by saying that I don’t think any brand, regardless of industry, can afford to ignore social media. Again, I am going to focus on the home appliance industry to demonstrate the risks associated with taking luxury appliance brands social.
What exactly makes a "luxury" appliance brand? Well, pricing, exclusivity, and sophisticated features are some factors that separate luxury appliances from their entry-level counterparts. For example, a luxury refrigerator averages well over $5,000.00 with a Sub-Zero Pro 48” Side-By-Side having an MSRP of $16,950.00. A high-end range will cost you about the same. That means you could easily spend well over $30,000 on a kitchen equipped with luxury appliances.
So What Are The Risks Associated With Luxury Brands Going Social?
One risk in taking a luxury brand social is managing a well-established reputation. Brands like Sub-Zero, Miele and Gaggenau are not found in big box stores which reinforce their air of exclusivity. With that exclusivity comes the need to protect what, in the case of the previously mentioned companies, represents decades of brand equity. The reason going social can bring risk is the fact that “Companies can appear paralysed by the speed of online media” (Spanier, 2015). The ability, or inability, to deal with a company crisis is something that separates a brand that can handle social media’s instant exposure from one that will fold under it.
Lack of consistency can be another risk factor in bringing a brand social. Although a brand’s social content must be varied, all businesses (micro-sized to corporations) need to make sure their brand identity is consistent across social platforms. An inconsistent social presence “can confuse the consumer, dilute the brand integrity and in extreme cases, reduce customer loyalty (Dimarco, 2013). Social media is a tool that can make luxury brands connect on a more personal level while still upholding their brand identity. In the case of luxury appliance brands, a lack of consistency could be using low-brow or crass humor to promote their products. Some brands can get away with edgy humor, and a total absence of humor is not necessary for a luxury brand, but it should be consistent with the overall company culture.
Of the three luxury appliance brands I mentioned, Sub-Zero (and their partner brand Wolf) tend to really embrace social media marketing. Their “Fresh Food Matters” campaign encourages healthy choices and connects the luxury brand with the movement towards responsibly sourced, fresh ingredients. One of the influencers connected to the “Fresh Food Matters” campaign is Katie Stagliano, founder of Katie’s Krops (please visit her site, she’s an outstanding young woman). Sub-Zero enacted a social media campaign in support of Katie's Krops where they donated $5.00 for every use of the hashtag #FreshFoodMatters on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (Kanter, 2016).
I was happy to share the #FreshFoodMatters hashtag multiple times on my appliance retailer client’s social media platforms. I felt it showed the ability of a luxury brand to be good social listeners and capable of utilizing more a diverse content marketing approach. Luxury products must walk a fine line between promoting exclusivity and coming off as snobby. There are, in fact, market segments that can afford luxury items but prefer a more everyday approach when receiving their marketing messages. In the end, a luxury brand’s social media presence needs to appeal to their target market without alienating any particular segment…and that is not an easy task.
Dimarco, C. (2013). The brand rewards and risks of social media. Insidecounsel.com. Retrieved 7 March 2017, from http://www.insidecounsel.com/2013/10/03/the-brand-rewards-and-risks-of-social-media
Kanter, E. (2016). Sub-Zero Announces Fresh Food Matters Initiative Highlighting Fresh Food’s Impact, Empowering People to Choose Fresh. Multivu. Retrieved 7 March 2017, from http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7820651-sub-zero-fresh-food-matters-initiative/
Spanier, G. (2015) Reputation risk with social media - raconteur.net. Retrieved 7 March 2017, from https://www.raconteur.net/business/reputational-risk-in-the-social-media-age
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