Profile: Jeremy Gilley

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Burberry: putting a value on social media

Burberry is willing to spend serious cash on digital marketing because it believes that by using the medium creatively it can attract future customers.

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The fashion business spends 60% of its marketing budget on digital channels. While Burberry does not peg its social media activity directly to sales, its chief executive Angela Ahrendts attributed strong financial results to “continued investment in innovative design, digital marketing and retail strategies” when it released its first half results in 2011.

Burberry

Trench artfair: Burberry called on its Facebook fans to help it launch its fragrance Body

Indeed social media was at the heart of the launch of its fragrance Body last summer. Most of the luxury brand’s marketing budget was used to promote the perfume through Facebook. Samples were mailed to 250,000 of its 10 million ‘likers’ in return for customer details. Any comments or likes on the branded page were shared with users’ friends to spread the word that the perfume can be purchased in stores or through its website.

Facebook has often drawn attention to how Burberry uses its pages to promote its perfume to fans of the designer label. The luxury brand was credited in the social network’s initial public offering a few weeks ago to demonstrate that businesses are using the site for major product launches.

This use of social media has helped Burberry get to number one of thinktank L2’s digital fashion index, which has called the label an ‘icon’ that has proven digital investments translate into shareholder value - in Burberry’s case, a 29% increase in revenue for the six months to 30 September 2011 to £830m and pre-tax profits up 26% at £162m.

As well as its Facebook page (Burberry is the most popular luxury fashion brand on the site), the brand’s digital and social activities include a Twitter stream with 750,000 followers and an Instagram page to show its 173,000 followers behind-the-scenes pictures. Burberry used Twitter for its ‘Tweetwalk’ last September, where it showed pictures of clothes from its forthcoming collections - just before they were unveiled to the fashion editors sitting beside the catwalk. It also uses microblogging site Sina Weibo in China and music network Douban.

Meanwhile, its ‘Art of the Trench’ website encourages people to upload pictures of themselves wearing a Burberry trench coat.

To do this, they must be signed into Facebook and allow the Art of the Trench application to access user information and post on individuals’ walls via Facebook Connect. This means that Burberry can see some information on who is engaging with the brand.

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