Influencer Marketing for Luxury Brands

Sarah Donawerth
Sarah Donawerth
Influencer Marketing for Luxury Brands

Luxury brands are not like other brands. Luxury brands rely on exclusivity, strong brand voice and identity, and a loyal group of prestigious followers in order to command the higher price point of their luxury goods. That’s where influencer marketing for luxury brands comes in.

Luxury brands also need to strike the right tone with their influencer marketing, maintaining the elevated feel of their brand while also spreading brand awareness to the right followers.

Luxury Brands are New to Influencer Marketing

For many years, luxury brands shied away from social media and influencer marketing because they didn’t want to cheapen the brand by making it accessible to everyone. Instead, the luxury sector relied on up-scale retailers and word-of-mouth marketing among wealthy clientele to spread the word about their products.

However, luxury brands have slowly been adopting social media and influencer marketing to adapt to the modern digital marketing landscape. Now, 66%+ of luxury brands are actively using influencer marketing to promote their brand, but 46% say that the program is less than a year old. An additional 28% say that their influencer marketing program is only 2 years old. Clearly, influencer marketing is becoming more widely adopted by luxury brands, but it is still a relatively new testing ground.

Does influencer marketing work for luxury brands?

If done correctly, yes. Luxury brands and fashion brands can work with upscale influencers to help spread the word to audiences that fit their target audience. More so that other brands, luxury brands will have to carefully select the influencers and create campaigns for their brand so that they continue to uphold their brand’s values and other marketing strategies.

Luxury goods are considered aspirational, something that people dream of owning. However, in order for these customers to dream of owning a luxury item, they have to be exposed to it. A well-planned influencer campaign can set the stage for new audiences to discover luxury brands and eventually become loyal customers.

Exclusivity vs. the Everyman

Influencer marketing is effective when the influencer is authentic and real. However, having an influencer who is approachable, and down to earth may seem to directly oppose the exclusivity of some luxury brands.

So, what does a luxury brand do? Luxury brands need to make sure that the influencers they work with maintain the brand’s look, feel, and tone so that the campaigns appear with the same elevated lifestyle that the brand represents.

This starts by selecting the right influencers.

Finding the Right Influencers for Marketing Luxury Brands

Influencers can become an extension of the brand’s marketing and identity, so it’s important to select the right influencers for a campaign with a luxury brand. The influencer’s audience should overlap with the luxury brand’s target customer, the influencer should have a lifestyle/aesthetic that matches the brand’s vibes, and the influencer should have a proven track record of brand sponsorships and collaborations.

Influencers should also be most active on the platforms that your potential customers use. Instagram is a popular choice, but YouTube and other social platforms can offer unique opportunities for some luxury brands.

Currently, 40% of luxury brands are choosing mid-tier (10K-100K followers) influencers to work with for luxury brand campaigns, since they can spread the word to niche audiences that allow the brand to accomplish highly targeted campaigns. Like micro influencers, mid-tier influencers still have high levels of engagement, but they also have large niche audiences that they can spread the word to.

Advice from the experts:

Instagram influencer marketing is such a diverse industry that there are plenty of accounts that just focus on luxury sponsorship and content. It’s a no-brainer to work with these types of influencers as they have really targeted audiences. We’ll also think about what groups of customers are likely to buy into the brand and pick influencers that represent this, so they become a kind of brand ambassador.~Bethany Spence, Exposure Ninja
When working with influencers for luxury brands you have to make sure #1 the influencer aligns with the luxury brand. For example, is their blog or platform elevated? Does their brand resonate with the luxurious feel of the brand? Second, I always ask influencers for media kits and detailed information on their following. Like most brands the end goal is the same — increase brand awareness and connect with their ideal clientele. It’s important to understand the demographics of these influencers to see if they align with the luxury brand’s target demographic.~Hannah Nieves, Marketing & Brand Strategist

Creating Influencer Marketing Campaigns for Your Luxury Brand

Each influencer campaign should be unique to the luxury brand that it represents. Whether it’s the hashtags used or the aesthetic of the images, the influencers and brands should work together to find a perspective that’s on-brand for their collaboration.

Letting the influencer have creative control will allow them to tailor the message to their audience for maximum effect. If they’re afraid of an image or direction that doesn’t reflect their brand, then they’ve probably selected the wrong influencer partners. Content creation is also easier when the influencer is familiar with the brand that they are working with. Only work with the influencers who should have complete creative control.  

The good news is that 73% of marketers say that influencer content was “effective” or “highly effective” for their brand.

Alternative Influencer Marketing Campaigns for High-End Brands

Some luxury brands simply can’t afford to gift influencers their most expensive goods. If selling diamond jewelry or $10,000 purses, then it just doesn’t make sense to give away products with each collaboration. Instead, marketers can find creative ways to utilize the power of influencers.

Networking events and launch parties are the perfect opportunity to work with influencers. An event like fashion week can be an opportunity to invite influencers to attend so that they can share from the event. Influencers can also get to know your brand first-hand.

If you’re looking for opportunities to work with celebrities, your luxury brand could also consider loaning out expensive pieces for celebrities to wear to their own events. This allows you to spread the word without an expensive gifting program that’s unsustainable.

Advice from the experts:

Many of these luxury jewelry brands can’t afford to give away product to influencers, since their price points are so high, so they might lend product to very high-profile influencers to wear to events.~Laryssa Wirstiuk, Joy Joya Jewelry Branding & Marketing Services
Alternatively, these brands might fuse influencer marketing with event marketing. So the jewelry brand will host an event like a collection launch party or other fun event and then invite the influencer to make an appearance at the event. That’s one way to draw people to the event and also to get social media exposure.~Laryssa Wirstiuk, Joy Joya Jewelry Branding & Marketing Services

When a luxury brand wants to execute an influencer campaign, the quality of the influencer’s content should be at the forefront. The luxury brand should want to collaborate with influencers whose content will be on-brand for social sharing so the brand can implement it into their native publishing schedule with image credits. The messaging provided to the influencers should be the same for all partners regardless of the category of the influencer (food, lifestyle, luxury, etc.) to ensure consistency.

Ensuring that the partnership will fit in organically with the influencer’s usual content flow is imperative to realize any sort of success in terms of reach amplification and cross promotion. For example, our team at Socially Intuit will vet an influencer’s audience to ensure that they are potential qualified buyers. We would not want a client in the luxury space to partner with an influencer who has collaborated with brands that the client would not want to be associated with.

~Katrina Vargas Vila, Founder & Creative Director at Socially Inuit

Brand Voice

A big consideration for luxury brands working with digital influencers and opinion leaders is the brand voice. Brand voice should never get lost in an influencer’s content, but instead an influencer should be able to speak for the brand in a way that feels authentic and genuine.

If we’re representing a luxury brand, we usually find that our campaigns are less about individual items and more creative. So, I guess you could say the approach to luxury influencer marketing is more relaxed in the sense that it can be seen as more of a brand awareness activity than a strict product launch (most of the time). We also tend to think about producing more lifestyle content- as opposed to direct product shots– so usually the influencer will have more creative control over the content produced which is nice for both parties.~Bethany Spence, Exposure Ninja

Influencer marketing should always be seen within the bigger marketing strategy and it should reinforce the brand’s overall goals. Working with influencers is most effective for generating brand awareness, so it typically feeds the top of conversion funnels. Your brand’s other marketing channels can then pick up these new followers and nurture them until they make a purchase.

Influencer marketing is a way for luxury brands to stay relevant to emerging markets, so brands can’t be afraid about diving in. The keys to influencer marketing for luxury brands is to maintain their aesthetic and voice by choosing the right influencers for their campaigns.

With 92% of consumers trusting influencer content more than ads or celebrity endorsements, there’s no better time to start working with influencers.

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