Customer acquisition and CRO

Influencer marketing for luxury brands

Ad image from Chanel featuring a young woman lying on the grass
Written by
Victoria Owen
Published on
March 4, 2022
Last updated
June 3, 2024

What this article covers

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It’s no secret that influencer marketing is one of the most popular ways for brands to engage with Gen Z - from Molly-Mae to Steven Bartlett, brands across the world are using influencers and celebrities to endorse their products and front campaigns. But how does this impact the luxury goods market? And how can they even get involved? Today we’re going to be looking at why luxury brands should be getting participating in influencer marketing and exploring the best ways of going about it. We’ll also be looking at a few case studies of luxury brands, including Gucci and Chanel, and sharing how they’re getting it right. 

Why should luxury brands be getting involved in influencer marketing? 

Stereotypically, there’s an air of inaccesibility when it comes to the luxury goods sector, where only the richest and most elite can be marketed towards. There’s even been discussion of influencer marketing cheapening brands, insinuating that simply by engaging a more diverse audience, luxury brands lose their ‘appeal’. 

However, as discussed in Vogue Business, it’s an undeniable fact that consumers simply prefer people to faceless brands. Gen Z in particular would much rather buy from a trusted face, particularly if the product is on the pricier side. The phrase ‘genuinfluencers’ was coined by trend forecasting company WGSN in 2020, and is described as ‘passionate individuals [who] are more interested in sharing advice, discussing their passions and spreading unbiased information than selling brands or products.’ Brands (whether high end or highstreeet) who choose to use influencers who fall into this category to front their campaigns promote a certain humanity for their brand, with consumers being attracted to the endearing and personable frontperson. A great example of this is Gucci’s recent collaborations with TikTok trainspotter Francis Bourgeois, which we’ll be discussing later on. 

In a digitised world, the word-of-mouth recommendations that luxury brands would have previously relied on are no longer an option if you want to expand your audience, and the easiest, best and most cost-effective way to do this is via social media and influencer marketing. In our US Youth Trends Report 2022, we reported that 73% of Gen Z follow influencers on Instagram - this is a massive market of individuals who understand, accept and, to some extent, expect influencer marketing. For luxury brands to miss out on this simply for fear of being ‘cheapened’ seems absurd. After all, ‘a well-planned influencer campaign can set the stage for new audiences to discover luxury brands and eventually become loyal customers.

What’s the best way to get involved?

So we’ve discussed why, but now we want to look at how. As we mentioned, ‘genuinfluencers’ (i.e. those influencers who have real passions and hobbies with an unbiased interest towards the brand in question) are a great place to start. Consumers, particularly Gen Z, want somebody who seems relatable and normal. As Vogue Business puts it: ‘This kind of influencer is trusted because they either are or feel like a personal connection, as opposed to aspirational influencers and celebrities, who were more popular pre-pandemic.’ By choosing an influencer who fits this description, brands instantly become more accessible and appealing to younger audiences who would have a genuine interest in interacting with the brand. 

When choosing the influencer to collaborate with, our recommendation is the same as always: choose carefully. By selecting an influencer or celebrity who allows your brand to maintain a luxurious, ‘elevated’ feel whilst also being accessible and relatable, all of your demands are met. And, much like with other brand collaborations, the influencer in question needs to uphold the same values and ideas as the brand they’d be collaborating with. As The Drum writes: ‘Brands should be vetting content creators before working with them, knowing that the reputation of the influencer they choose to work with deeply affects their image.’ This is particularly important when you consider how Gen Z are often drawn to influencers who share their own personal values - by connecting your brand to the right influencer, you’ll earn a supportive following. This is represented in a recent Pion survey, in which 77% of Gen Zers said they think it’s important that famous/well-known people share their values (US Youth Trends Report 2022). 

Brand case studies

There are currently a few luxury/high-end brands that seem to be on top of their game, including Gucci, Chanel and Fenty. Below we’ll be looking at how the brands are using influencers to support their campaigns, brand or products. 

Chanel x Lily-Rose Depp

Model, Gen Z, Instagram coolkid and child of superstars Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, Lily-Rose Depp is now synonymous with Chanel. From wearing Chanel to events to becoming the face of their eyewear range at the age of just 16 and even fronting a Chanel fragrance campaign and walking red carpets, the star has had a nearly 7 year relationship with the brand (and it’s still going!). With an Instagram that’s peppered with fun photos with friends, wild nights out and kooky outfit choices (as well as a fair few modelling shots, Chanel shoots and exotic holidays), the star really embodies Gen Z’s vibe. She’s the ultimate It girl, and it’s impossible to see Chanel or Lily-Rose without thinking of of the other. 

Savage X Fenty x Rihanna 

Savage X Fenty was already bound to be a success due to the stardom and overall Gen Z love for its founder, Rihanna. Although Savage X Fenty is arguably more of a high-end brand than a luxury one, their marketing is certainly one to admire. Using a hashtag #SavageXFenty, the brand encourages everyday individuals or microinfluencers to share images of them in their new lingerie.This is a huge part of their marketing on their website and social channels. It also makes the brand appear more trustworthy to consumers - a recent Pion survey revealed that 34% of Gen Z said someone with 10,000 followers would be most likely to inspire them to buy something versus 24% with a million followers. 

By using everyday people the brand is relatable and accessible, and encourages and everyone to get invoved. This is also furthered the brand’s use of diverse models on their website.

Gucci x Francis Bourgeois 

Gen Z’s favourite TikTok trainspotter is a bit of a household name. He shot to fame in 2020 and has been increasing in popularity ever since, now boasting 2.3M followers and 40.1M likes on the app. Francis’ unmatchable passion for trains and his infectious laugh and wholesome content (as well as that fish-eye camera angle). 

Worldwide designer brand Gucci recently collaborated with Francis as promotional material for Gucci’s Exquisite Gucci show in Milan, in which Francis released three TikTok videos (as well as lots of additional ‘on holiday in Milan’ footage). The videos have got between 612.K - 758.1K views on TikTok, despite only having been up for one week at time of writing.

Gucci has embraced Francis’ character, personality and interests (which just so happen to be loved by millions), and catered towards this. Francis stays true to himself and Gucci stay true to themselves - the dream brand collaboration! As well as the millions of likes on TikTok, the feedback to the campaign has been nothing short of amazing.

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