Why Luxury Brands Should Sidestep Snapchat


Camille Lake | September 12, 2017

When Instagram replicated Snapchat’s “Story” feature in August last year, it promptly surpassed its top competitor in terms of quantity of users and advanced features. Today, Instagram boasts 700 million users, compared to its competitor’s 150 million. Has this conquest convinced luxury brands to sidestep Snapchat altogether?

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times… for Snapchat in 2016, that is. During the second quarter of the year, Highsnobiety reported a record growth spurt of users by 17.2 per cent. But this all changed dramatically just a few months later, when Instagram Stories was launched. Digital natives were suddenly able to enjoy the same notion of impermanent storytelling (nobody wants to remember that drunken karaoke video the next day), all the while maintaining their carefully curated feed of (decidedly more) permanent Instagram photos. Instagram now boasts 250 million daily users for its Stories feature.

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What made Snapchat so trendy in the first place was its principle function of sharing content that disappeared after 24 hours. This impermanence helped to remove inhibitions from users, and created a culture of authenticity and spontaneity. The fun filters that one could apply to video messages helped too. But if Instagram now offers the same functions, what chance really does Snapchat have in enticing the big brands?

1. Snapchat is limited

Snapchat still functions more like an instant messaging platform, rather than a treasure trove of content. Its shortage of features such as hashtags, higher quality images, detailed search capabilities, integration with other platforms, and tagging other users in a Story, can all be found on Instagram. The latter is clearly a more useful platform for marketing as brands can experiment with different types of user engagement tools all the while reaching a wider audience. According to Omnicore Instagram is used by 48.8 per cent of brands, a number which is expected to rise to 70.7 per cent this year.

2. Snapchat is not as easy to use as Instagram

Instagram is more intuitive than Snapchat in terms of navigation on its platform. Additionally, it is owned by Facebook, making it easier for users to shift their content from one platform to another.  It also makes more sense for brands to advertise on Instagram than on Snapchat from an e-commerce point of view. Instagram has an integrated “tap and view” functionality for images, which instantly directs users to a brand’s online store.

3. Snapchat relies on impermanence

Even though Snapchat became a leading contender for its credo of short-lived content, this feature does not work for brands in the long run. Brands spend a lot of time, money and effort to create marketing content and are therefore reluctant to use a platform where their hard work vanishes into thin air after just a day.

It’s all about targeting

This, however, is not to say that Snapchat is of no value to luxury brands at all. Take for example, the instance of Burberry, who leveraged on these same features (that are sometimes considered to be pitfalls) when it launched its advertising campaign live through Snapchat in April last year.

Being the first luxury brand to run a Snapchat Discover channel native ad, Burberry made use of this social media platform to promote its new men’s fragrance, Mr. Burberry. The brand featured content such as articles, interviews, and videos shot by Mario Testino, on the channel.

In this case, because Burberry chose to target young millennials, the usage of Snapchat made perfect sense. After all, 60 per cent of Snapchat’s daily active users belong to the millennial age group. And while this market may not consist of many buyers of big-ticket luxury items at the moment, they are predicted to be the fastest growing segment of spenders between 2018 to 2020.

Image credit: Burberry - Mario Testing shooting the Burberry Snapchat Campaign.

It’s not too late

Due to the sheer number of daily users on Instagram, it seems to be the clear choice for any brand. However, at the end of the day, it is not so much about what a social media platform can offer in terms of functionality as where a brand’s target market lies.

“The main reason why brands choose one platform over another is due to where their clients are. Snapchat is less relevant for luxury brands because younger generations are not their primary target,” explains Pauline Ventura, Social Media Executive at Digital Luxury Group. A survey conducted by Pew Research Center on News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017, states that Snapchat has by far the youngest group of news users where 82 per cent are ages 18 to 29.

“However,” adds Ventura, “some luxury brands should take into consideration that the younger users that are currently on Snapchat could become potential customers later. By engaging with them on this platform now, this could cement a link between the user and the brand and ensure a future revenue stream, just like we saw in Burberry’s Snapchat campaign.”

Despite the fact that Instagram is currently the more refined choice for luxury brands, Snapchat still stands a chance. The luxury industry has changed drastically and perhaps, if Snapchat improves its advertising features, it could use the opportunity to engage with a different type of target market through a non-conventional manner of conversation.

Cover Image: Burberry Snapchat Campaign 

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