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There’s no doubt that fashion and beauty brands belong on TikTok, but when it comes to whether luxury brands can make waves in the same way, there’s always been some apprehension. But TikTok has come a long way in the past year and the opportunities it poses for luxury brands are vast. Users are itching to see more from luxury brands on TikTok, and here’s some ways we’d suggest going about it.
How Luxury Brands Can Leverage TikTok
TikTok is pushing heavily to support social commerce, a key 2021 marketing trend. Douyin, TikTok in China, has even added online payments to the app. We believe that shoppable campaigns on TikTok are a critical asset for luxury brands to connect with online audiences.
Balenciaga became the first luxury fashion brand to launch a shoppable campaign on TikTok. They used the TopView TikTok ad format, which is the equivalent of buying TikTok’s front page for the entire day. This shoppable campaign is a 24-hour takeover, with a 5-60 second video, guaranteeing ‘millions of views’ according to TikTok for Business.
Balenciaga’s edgy video highlighted their sneakers, bags and other accessories. The video linked to a landing page, directly shoppable within TikTok. Customers wouldn’t even have to leave the app to checkout! They later used the same videos from their Top View ad in a Top View Lite format (which limits to 5 seconds of content). They tested this format in France and the UK, expanding to other markets after seeing good initial results. This approach resulted in 23 million impressions, an 18% click rate, and 25 million video views.
Even if luxury brands aren’t ready to buy the entire front page, it’s worth noting that shoppable campaigns can be successful across ad formats. We know this better than anyone – our paid ads services offers clients a 360 approach to Gen Z performance marketing and we have crafted blockbuster paid ads campaigns on TikTok for brands such as Vestiaire, Mattel & Plato. To find out how we can do the same for you, get in contact today.
Challenges & custom sounds
Understanding TikTok’s culture is crucial to success and popularity on the platform and hashtag challenges have always been a core part of TikTok culture. This is because challenges encourage participation and interaction which are appealing to Gen Z. 74% of Gen Z dislike traditional ads, so brands need an ‘advertainment’ approach; blending fun with sponsored content.
Italian luxury brand Furla understood the importance of ‘advertainment’: creating their own hashtag challenge, the #FurlaDance. In true TikTok fashion, this included an easy to recreate dance, with catchy custom audio provided by Furla. The videos were typically in bright primary colors, making them stand out in-feed.
By kicking off the campaign with well-known influencers, Furla saw more than 127,000 videos and a 12.96% engagement rate. Furla did well introducing itself to the Gen Z market, who may not have heard of the brand before at all.
Luxury brands on TikTok can benefit from key strategies, like starting their own challenge (or joining an existing one). Custom sounds can also boost the popularity of your videos.
React to organic content
Every luxury brand on TikTok has the same opportunity to leverage viral engagement. The algorithm doesn’t discriminate – if your content is popular and on trend, it’ll do well.
Paying attention to TikTok trends is important for brands: most ‘viral’ trends start off organically, and can propel your brand to the forefront if you join in at the right time, without being heavy-handed.
A great example is the infamous #HarryStylesCardigan trend. This organic trend started when Gen Z icon Harry Styles wore a JW Anderson rainbow cardigan during a rehearsal for the Today Show. Styles is well known for wearing experimental, gender-bending looks and Gen Z love his playful approach to fashion.
The oversized cardigan inspired a viral crocheting craze on DIY TikTok, with its influence extending to other social networks like Twitter. It went so viral that the V&A added Styles’ JW Anderson cardigan to its collection of important historical clothing, and Vogue covered the entire story.
The trend garnered 52 million views, setting the hype for JW Anderson’s Women’s SS21 show, which would premiere exclusively on TikTok (as part of TikTok fashion month).
This is a great example of how keeping an eye on TikTok trends can help you spot opportunities for your luxury brand on TikTok. JW Anderson’s team hopped on to the trend without hard-selling: they simply encouraged it.
This made them a familiar name with Gen Z, setting the stage for a successful digital SS21 fashion show on TikTok.
This trend also successfully hopped on TikTok’s love of DIY, and Harry Styles: the perfect formula for viral engagement.
Listen to more hip hop (no, really)
Hip hop is extremely popular on TikTok, propelling hits like 14x platinum-certified ‘Old Town Road’ Lil Nas X,‘Savage’ by Megan Thee Stallion (and the remix, ft. Beyonce), ‘Say So’ by Doja Cat…the list goes on.
This is an important trend for luxury brands to hop on, because hip hop music naturally brings up luxury brands as part of fun, braggart lyrics intended to show off the artist’s wealth. The song ‘Fashion Killa’ by A$AP Rocky is the ultimate example: referencing Prada, D&G, Balenciaga, Escada, Helmut Lang, Alexander Wang, DKNY and Jean Paul Gaultier in Verse 1 alone.
So, if your brand is mentioned in a trending hip hop song on TikTok…good news! You can leverage this for great content.
Some great examples include this video, set to ‘Dior’ by Pop Smoke. This French TikTokker naturally includes Dior’s Sauvage perfume in his OOTD video, gaining 135k views and 2195 comments. This organically inserts Dior into the conversation, rather than feeling like a ‘Buy me now!’ ad.
This other example focuses on a TikTokker doing product reviews, where he’ll purchase the least expensive thing from a designer brand and review it. His Versace video is set to ‘Versace on the Floor’ by Bruno Mars, a catchy viral song on TikTok. He’s done this before, setting the Valentino video to ‘Valentino’ by 24KGOLDN. This interesting formula works because his reviews are honest, and give Gen Z accurate expectations around pricing, shipping, products and packaging. TikTokkers like this have built trust with their audience, so when brands do reach out for promotion, they’re in for great results (even if the product is moderately received).
Luxury brands should remember this clever tactic: if you’re in a hip hop song, leverage this for content!
Self-expression & sustainability
Gen Z really cares about sustainability and climate issues, as well as self-expression. The earlier example of Harry styles’ cardigan is a case in point: Harry’s fashion sense is noted for being gender-fluid and expressive – very well-received by Gen Z.
Luxury brands are in a good place to capitalise on this trend, since they provide the USP of being higher-quality, longer lasting and hence a more sustainable purchase overall. Fast fashion is often critiqued for its ethics and climate impact, so if luxury brands can demonstrate the opposite, they’ll be well-received by Gen Z. A great example of a luxury brand doing this right is @andagainco – a luxury fashion brand with sustainability at its core. They’ve driven 194k followers and 4.5million likes with their content.
Ultimately, Gen Z audiences are likely to pay a premium for a product they perceive as less harmful to the environment and respects brands with good values (think along the lines of Fenty Beauty’s diverse shade range).
Youth engagement with older brands
Engaging with Gen Z audiences is crucial to luxury brands’ survival. Millennials and Gen Z will be 45% of the luxury market in 2045, representing a 130% growth opportunity. There’s only one network made up almost entirely of millennial or Gen Z audiences: and it’s TikTok.
Secondly, luxury brands need to learn from the likes of Gucci and Dior and appeal to the youth market. Millennials and Gen Z expect an online experience as immersive as a physical one, and care deeply about transparency, authenticity and community. Brands with a strong distinct personality are favoured. Think about why Gucci’s had two viral organic challenges: they have a distinct aesthetic and personality. TikTok is the perfect channel for brands to share their inner workings and ‘voice’ – giving brands a far deeper level of communication than a glossy magazine ad ever could.
Luxury brands who can show off more accessible products stand to do better. Gucci’s £170 phone cases or £70 socks, or Off White’s Nike collabs sit in a price range younger customers can pay today. This accessibility could prompt the initial purchase leading to long term loyalty.
So, think holistically about your brand strategy, and where you could use TikTok to transmit messages you care about.
Younger demographics expect accessibility from luxury brands, and they care about sustainability. Gen Z also expect content to feel ‘native’ to a network, so use TikTok’s native editing effects and filters to blend in seamlessly.
When it comes to heritage and history behind a luxury brand – leave this for another time. Gen Z and Millennials might actually see this as pretentious and off-putting, so focus on humour and personality to bring your brand to life.
Remember, accessible doesn’t mean compromising on exclusive (think about Gucci and Maison Martin Margiela collaborating with North Face). You can leverage limited editions, localized products and unexpected drops or collars (Nike x sacai is just one amazing example).
How Luxury Brands Can Leverage TikTok
Analyse their content before reaching out
76% of Gen Z follow influencers on social, making them essential to brand success. If you find a particular luxury influencer you’d like to work with, take the time to analyze their content first.
Firstly, you want to make sure the influencer partnership yields results for your brand. Gen Z are looking to influencers for inspiration for their personal style, and authenticity here really matters. Therefore, you’ll want to find influencers already advocating for your brand. It’s also important to bear in mind that if they’re working with a direct competitor, they’re likely to turn you down.
Watch their content, and keep an eye on their engagement. If they have little to no engagement, but tons of followers, that’s a red flag.
Secondly, watching their content means you can personalize your outreach and pitch. Talk about a time they’ve worn something from your brand, or something you liked about one of their videos. Don’t be fake – include genuine touch points so they know you actually care about working together.
Build a collaborative relationship: working with you, not for you
Remember, you’re working with influencers because they deeply understand the kind of content their audience is interested in. So don’t be rigid with your brief, and trust the influencers to come up with the right content – relinquishing creative control is key.
Ideally, you should work with influencers to storyboard content. Give them examples of previous content that’s performed well for your brand as a visual aid.
Understand their editing capabilities
Luxury content is more abstract, artistic and requires decent editing capability. It’s completely fine to use low-tech methods and native TikTok effects (i.e. shot with iPhone for a homemade feel). However, you should look for signs of curation: a feed that is cohesive and indicative of good aesthetic.
Make sure you know what your influencer partner is capable of: are they a video editing pro? Do they use special professional tools, or do they achieve incredible results with lower tech methods? You’ll want to make sure you don’t under-offer to those who have breadth and depth of skill, since this could lead to them putting in little to no effort into your content. That’s not to say you’ll always want to hire someone who’s an expert at editing content, but that you should be aware of what’s realistically possible.
Here at Fanbytes
We’re aware of the time, effort and resource that goes into influencer collaborations. It’s not easy to create a win-win situation for both parties, and it’s even harder to scope out the content and shape of your campaign.
At Fanbytes, we do the vetting for you, through our industry-leading analytics tool Bytesights. This ensures you’re using the best influencers for your campaign and brand, and that you’ll get the results you’re hoping for. If you’d like to learn more about what we can achieve for you, get in contact today.
So, we’ve talked about how luxury brands can leverage TikTok creatively. Let’s quickly summarise:
– Shoppable campaigns are part of the ongoing social commerce trend in 2021.
– Understanding TikTok’s culture, using custom audio and challenges to your advantage is essential.
– Keeping an eye out for organic trends will work in your favour.
– Thinking about creative hacks for your content, like using hip hop songs (or pop culture references) that mention your brand is effective.
– Understanding your audience and focusing on adapting your brand voice to what Gen Z care about (think sustainability, social purpose, diversity) is imperative.