On January 5, the world woke up and found Bottega Veneta’s account missing from popular social media sites like Instagram and Twitter. The brand deleted all posts from their Facebook account, sending the fashion world into a tizzy. Countless websites began commenting on their virtual disappearance.
The brand has been mum since. One of the possibilities is that the Kering-owned company is rebranding its social media presence.
Others speculate a complete exit from social media, although the brand is still active on Chinese social media sites.
The move is being credited to Daniel Lee, the label’s creative director since 2018. Lee, who previously worked with Phoebe Philo at Celine, has voiced his ambivalence towards social media in interviews with Vogue and Cultured Magazine.
“Everyone seeing the same things is not healthy or productive. It doesn’t breed individuality,” stated Lee in an interview with Cultured Magazine.
The move has sparked a debate whether luxury brands need to be active on social media or not.
Visibility v/s exclusivity
During the pandemic, luxury brands that were earlier reticent and inactive on social media strengthened their presence on digital platforms. Social media is an easy way to gain brand visibility and reach out to new consumers, especially the youth. But too much visibility interferes with the exclusivity factor that is associated with luxury.
“A lot of luxury brands will hail Bottega’s move and will endorse this moment,” opines Abhay Gupta, Founder & CEO of Luxury Connect and a Luxury Brands Coach. “One cannot say whether it is right or wrong, but if you analyse the historic perspective of a brand like Bottega, their brand value and DNA, you will find that it is rather high up in the brand pyramid. It is not consumed by the aspirational class. It is logo less and its products have always been its hero rather than investing in heavy ATL and BTL marketing,” shares Gupta who has also authored the book, The Incredible Indian Luxury Bazaar.
“People who are at the lower end of luxury consumption want products which are loud and can make them stand out but Bottega Veneta does not do that. Their clientele have anyway been, if I may call them, the true luxury consumer, rather than the new luxury consumer. Bottega has every right to protect its DNA, and protect its privacy formula,” Gupta adds.
Gupta also highlighted the pitfalls of social media where information is leaked easily. Instagram is flooded with counterfeit goods. Many Instagram accounts direct prospective buyers to connect with them on encrypted apps, which turn out to be counterfeit products. It is impossible to discern the authenticity of a product in a post, which is a cause for concern.
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Communication should be bespoke
Nicky Singh, Vice President of Lintas Live feels that social media is more for brands that have a mass appeal. “Luxury is meant for a niche set of people who are discerning and mature. It is not easily attainable. Only after one has attained some amount of self-astuteness can they look at luxury experiences,” explains Singh.
“When it comes to social media as a platform, there is no differentiation. Everybody can access it; it is for everybody and by everybody. Social media fails the purpose of a luxury brand because luxury is very quiet. A luxury brand on social media is like shouting out loud, saying ‘Hey, I am here!’” feels Singh who has worked in PR and Marketing-driven roles in the luxury industry for several years.
Singh feels that social media is not the only way of connecting with a brand’s audience.
“If you have got to reach that relegated audience, you can be very subtle about it. You know you consumer, you know your audience, and you can have a direct conversation with them in a very niche way which makes them feel exclusive,” suggests Singh.
Even when it comes to targeting the youth and millennials there are other ways to reach out to potential consumers. For her, a luxury brand’s exclusivity enhances its appeal. Social media counters this approach.
This debate will continue but as far as Bottega Veneta is concerned, it could just be another strategic move before they launch their latest collection, Salon 01 in the market.