Strong relationships have always been at the core of luxury brands’ sales and marketing.
Over the last 20 years, luxury brands have focused on creating a sense of exclusivity and social aspiration, coupled with personalized, in-store service. However, this business model is already being challenged. Today’s digital world has changed the way customers spend their time, shop, and engage with brands.
The Myndset Company, founded by Minter and Yendi Dial, surveyed over 300 executives to discover how luxury brands are facing the challenge of digital transformation in terms of budget and strategy. Some of the findings included:
- 42% of luxury brands say that digital has been very disruptive to their governance
- Upscale brands consider digital to be key in understanding clientele
- 70% of luxury brands were planning to increase their digital marketing budgets
To learn more about the challenges facing luxury brands today, we partnered with Minter Dial to co-author a white paper, Influencer Marketing: 9 Challenges for Luxury Brands. The following excerpt features an interview between Minter Dial and Paul Sanderson, MD of Remy Cointreau UK. Read on to learn why and how the French alcoholic beverage company has made influencer marketing an essential pillar of its brand strategy.
MD: What role does/will influencer marketing play for Remy Cointreau currently or in the near future?
“Influencer marketing, or, Core Militants marketing approach, as we call it in the Remy Cointreau world, is hugely important for our brands. It is an essential pillar in our brand strategy and the basis of our brand plans. Let us take the Cointreau brand as an example. We launched an influencer seeding strategy last year with the aim of building powerful bonds with UK consumers. We implemented a completely new approach; building and nourishing organic relationships with influential and loyal advocates of the brand (Core Militants), who have the capacity to influence Cointreau’s target consumers. We do not invest in classic, above the line advertising. We believe that a well-designed influencer strategy and its successful implementation are very powerful in reaching and resonating with our target consumers. Our marketing team commit themselves and ensures that everything we do is linked back to charismatic young ladies across Britain, and achieves the traction that we are after.”
MD: Working successfully with social media influencers requires a collaborative approach. How do you work today with the influencers with whom you engage?
“Firstly, we identify a group of influencers from various aspects of life based on very strict criteria: their relevance and legitimacy amongst our target; their resonance and ability to have impact on the target; and their reach, in terms of quantity but also ‘quality’ of their followers, viewers, clients, circle of high profile friends. Together with PR agencies we identified and carefully recruited five influencers from fashion, lifestyle, beauty, TV, arts and drinks spheres—to engage as many touch points as we could. A ‘cocktail’ of talents, some of whom appeal to a more mass audience, and others who have a smaller but core following. The objective is to become part of their life, where it is not just a sponsorship or endorsement, but a truly win-win partnership. Our marketing team spends time to get to know each of them personally and develop a direct relationship. We work individually with each of them to come up with a bespoke plan. Our militants are offered money-can’t-buy experiences; we help them with their own events and ensure that there is a good amount of everyday treats too. As a result, our relationship is mutually beneficial and Cointreau becomes firmly in their mind when, for instance, they are thinking of hosting a cocktail party at their house, a capsule collection photoshoot, or looking for some exciting new content for their blog, like a cocktail making tutorial. In other words, we want to help make their dreams come true: Dream, dare and create together with us. We do not impose any content; on the contrary; most of the time they come to us with their creative ideas, which is great. As a result we have built a strong bond that has now transformed them into true Cointreau adorers and created HUGE buzz on social media and their blogs.”
MD: Influencer management impacts your PR teams, celebrity management teams, social media and digital marketing teams. There is also a challenge to create bridges with your customer care or CRM activities. How are you organized today to lead your influencer programs and manage such challenges?
“Our marketing team is small, but as already mentioned, it is crucial that they develop personal relationships with the influencers. Of course on a day-to-day basis we have support of our PR agencies that help us achieve our objectives on and offline. There is no dedicated social media or digital marketing team in-house. CRM is high up on our priorities agenda at the moment, so more and more focus will be placed here to ensure we have the right resource dedicated to digital.”
MD: User Generated Content (UGC) is at the core of social advocacy and influence. How do you manage UGC’s consistency—or lack thereof—with your brand message?
“We don’t impose any branded content or approve blog posts created by our core militants. To ensure consistency and correct messaging we simply spend a lot of time with them, encouraging them get to know the brand very well. It was important that at the start of our relationship all our core militants attended our brand academy in Angers, the birthplace of Cointreau, to better understand the brand and product. When organising our own events we always strive to bring to life what we are as a brand: our appearance, drinks, character, lifestyle, tone of voice etc… so our core militants understand what Cointreau stands for. One other very important aspect of content generation for us is social responsibility. Being an alcohol brand we have very strong guidelines, and our core militants are committed to follow exactly the same principles as us when they produce their image, film, or written content.”
MD: Measuring success and the impact of earned media is an important topic for brands. What KPIs do you use today for your social media activities and, more especially, for your influencer work?
“Since we do not only implement our core militants strategy online, we look at overall PR value, pieces of coverage achieved as a result of collaboration with the influencers, and ROI. In the social media world, we do not simply look at the number of followers. Quantitatively we are measuring estimated reach per channel and its growth rate, as well as interactions generated. Qualitatively and in line with our strict selection criteria for core militants, we are looking at relevancy and quality of both their content and following. Quality of content execution, creativity and integration of Cointreau messaging is key for us, as well as our core militants’ ability to identify new opportunities for collaborations, and the level of their personal engagement with the brand.”
To get a glimpse of the nine challenges facing luxury brands in influencer marketing, download the full white paper. You’ll learn from brands, including Aston Martin, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and more.