It’s Matt Jacobson’s job at Facebook to mine for new partnerships and luxury’s presenting some interesting opportunities.
Jacobson, who serves as the company’s head of market development, told a crowd assembled Tuesday evening at the Montage Beverly Hills, that’s where his attention is focused. The gathering was for the presentation of new research on what the luxury-focused magazine Robb Report coined the new luxury.
“I think that’s a place where we can have a real impact,” Jacobson said. “I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year talking to ceos of companies — whether it’s auto or luxury goods or the watch industry — and talking to these brands and hearing what it is they want and what their goals and objectives are and listening carefully.”
Jacobson, who joined Facebook as employee number eight, previously worked at Quiksilver Entertainment as vice president, cofounder and global head of marketing.
A segment of the industry that was once seen as averse to social media — and perhaps to a certain extent still is — has joined in alongside much of the rest of fashion brands.
“The world has gotten very flat and these barriers to entry that kept a lot of these brands, especially in the luxury category, far ahead, all bets are off,” Jacobson said.
Thus, use of social media can’t be ignored by luxury brands and many of them are leading the way, favoring channels such as Instagram with Jacobson pointing to Hermès, Gucci, Chanel and Rolex as good examples of best practices when it comes to the photo-sharing app.
“[Instagram’s] become fundamentally important to the most traditional luxury brands as part of how they tell their story. [There are] brands that would have, five years ago, said, ‘I would never do that. I need to have an A-level photographer shooting this project in situ, in this place, to be shown this way,’” he said. “And now those stories are being told in a much simpler, kind of more accessible way.”
The buy-now-wear-now conversation has also helped the popularity of apps such as Instagram by affording brands speed to market and the ability to get their stories out faster, Jacobson added.
Findings from a study by Robb Report and market research and consulting firm Ipsos in April surveyed a pool of over 1,000 people ages 18 to 64 with household incomes of $100,000 or higher. When those surveyed were asked if they would rather a luxury brand be accessible or exclusive, 71 percent favored accessibility.
“I think accessible means several things,” said Ipsos chief insights officer Steve Kraus. “It means easy to find, easy to get [and] easy to purchase. But I think it also means easy to enjoy. Easy to relate to. Not so esoteric [where] you’re going to have to go through a course to figure out how am I going to wind this watch or how am I going to appreciate this….”
About 33 percent of the group surveyed was comprised of Millennials, defined as being between the ages of 18 to 34. The Generation X cohort, ages 35 to 49 accounted for 35 percent and Boomers, ages 50 to 64, made up 32 percent of respondents.
More than half of respondents — about 70 percent — said they favored craftsmanship and artisan workmanship over the latest in technology.
“It comes back to that core essence of what luxury is,” Kraus said. “It’s about excellence. It’s about quality.”
That helps explain why respondents, when asked what brands come to mind when they think about luxury, stated Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Gucci and Prada. The four fashion houses ranked in the top 10 with the remaining six slots filled by automotive brands. The ranking, when expanded to the top 25, saw the addition of brands such as Coach, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Michael Kors and Apple.
Brands that can successfully tell that quality story and offer up an edited point of view amid all the noise online, will ultimately retain relevance as the consumer base evolves.
“This idea of expertise, particularly around things that you should care about or you may not know about or on the demand creation side, is really, really important,” Jacobson said. “That voice needs to be defended….There are people nipping at the heels of all trusted brands to make sure that you stay relevant as a curator. There is no birthright. These things cycle in and out very quickly. I think curation, one, is very important. Two, it’s something that needs to be defended if that’s your competitive advantage.”