How Luxury Brands Can Benefit from Online Communities

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by: Matt Rhodes

Almost two years ago the retail team in our sister company FreshMinds Research wrote a white paper about how luxury brands can use and leverage the power of Web 2.0. This showed the brand benefits of being online and how luxury brands could reach their target audience and build their exclusive brand image using Web 2.0 tools and techniques.

However, the most interesting (and potentially shocking) statistic from the survey is that most brands don’t track customer comments online. They are not watching what their customers say about their brand online and so fail to use this as input or to work with these comments to help build the brand.

Almost 85% of wealthy customers claim to visit ratings and review sites, a figure higher than for consumers as a whole. Yet only 14% of the luxury brands in the survey monitor the comments these people leave, and less than 12% allow comments on their own site.

We’ve found that companies who allow comments on their own site see a marked increase in conversion to sale. And when given the chance to rate a product or service online, customers are overwhelmingly more positive than negative. Brands miss out on the opportunities that these discussions offer, and with a particularly affluent and active customer-base, luxury brands could really benefit from entering the conversations that happen online.

What is more, online is a perfect place to build brand image. You can control and increase your brand image in a medium that has been proven to be treated as more trust-worthy.

The good news from the survey is that 40% of the brands plan to host their own online communities. 25% however don’t. I’d expect to see a marked difference in performance here – those brands hosting their own communities reaping the benefits of Web 2.0 that the FreshMinds Research report wrote about almost two years ago.

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