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Luxury Interactive: What Luxury Brands Have Learned About Social Media in 2010

At the end of May, like last year, I had the pleasure to attend Luxury Interactive conference in London, organized by WBR. Luxury Interactive is a conference that “breathes” luxury in the sense that it is high quality, as it has both great speakers and attendees and is intimate, as the number of attendees is small enough for you to connect with everyone, and not just shove your business card in their hand.
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The Social Side of Estee Lauder

Earlier this week, AdAge featured a story on Estee Lauder’s social media outreach. Estee Lauder used social media to make an ingenious connection to current, new and could be/would be customers by offering free makeovers and photo shoots at its department-store cosmetics counters coast-to-coast. The event produced shots that women could use for their online profiles. This past weekend, AdAge reporter, Kunur Patel, experienced the Estee Lauder event first hand.

The event shows how luxury beauty brands are adopting social media in order to reach younger audiences and recapture customers who have fallen away. The Estee Lauder event sought to change younger consumers’ perceptions of the brand by creating an “experience” (the concept that most luxury brands are based on) with professional, slightly modelesque photos that could uploaded to their social networks. Looking at initial feedback, the event seems to have worked.

While Patel felt the makeover was a bit over the top for her style, she said “the whole experience was a lot more glamorous than my previous experience with the brand” and that “Estee Lauder seemed a lot younger and more realistic” to her.

The purpose and goal of the campaign was to use online PR and social media to bring awareness to an in-store promotion and drive individuals to the event. Once everyone was present, Estee Lauder created an in-store, luxury experience that introduced/reintroduced the consumer to the brand, hopefully altering the participants’ perceptions of who the products were made for.

If a woman who received the makeover uploaded the photo to any of her social profiles, she would have completed the cycle that Estee Lauder was hoping for: the customer leveraging her social network to expose her friends and family (that is, her community) to the Lauder brand.

Social media and digital technologies have hit the luxury industry hard – shattering its mystique, aspirational qualities and some of its glamour. So instead of grasping at straws and refusing to accept how consumers receive brand messages, beauty brands are adopting new mediums. Lauder’s event conveyed this message:

You want to be glamorous, you can. You want to be THAT woman? Maybe you already are.

Social media has given rise to micro celebrity fever; everyone wants to be someone. Here’s a clever example retail brand showing a seemingly average person how to achieve that desire.

To take it a step further, I also think that Lauder’s event aided its more-established customers’ adoption of social media by providing them with quality, professional photography they could share online without hesitancy.

Overall, I think the brand’s outreach and social marketing strategy was successful. I’m very interested to see how it plays out.

Did anyone participate in the Estee Lauder events? What were your experiences or perceptions? Did Estee Lauder create a positive or negative experience for you? And most importantly, did you use your photo? If you did, post links!

Find Estee Lauder on Facebook or their Facebook App.