Can Celebrity Association Really Influence Handbag Sales?

Premium handbags and accessories is one of the fastest growing segments in the overall luxury market. According to Euromonitor, handbags global sales reached $48.5 billion in 2013, despite the economic downturns. Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, who's key products include leather goods, handbags and accessories, are one of the world’s most valuable brands in 2013 by Forbes, with brand values at $28.4 and $12.1 billion, respectively.

The market for high-end luxury handbags is highly competitive and it is impossible to point out how much resources brands invest on celebrity endorsements each year in the global market. According to Adly - a pioneer celebrity publishers in digital, $50 billion is spent on endorsements worldwide by brands in different categories, not to mention $35 billion spent only in digital advertising.

But that is true that attractive advertising images and brand’s ambassadors can help a brand to stand out from the others and be valued higher within its competitive circuit. According to the statistics, 26% of social media users bought items that were promoted by the celebrities they followed. Not only does the connection with popular celebrities support the brands in a positive way, but also help brands reach a wider audience of potential customers and be instantly perceived highly, becoming a preferred choice in the market.

In our latest Market Research - Top 10 Celebrity Ad Campaigns of Premium Handbag Brands, Fashionbi team of brand experts analyzed a total of ten high-end handbag brand campaigns along with the ambassadors they used. The objective was to find out if and how the ambassadors influenced the brands and the impact they made on the campaigns, on the web and on different social media channels - if the strategy really worked and what was the contribution of such a marketing action on the overall sales and reputation for those labels.

Ambassadors and Their Impact on the Campaign Awareness

When we precisely narrowed down the brands’ awareness in terms of those with handbags as a core-business or a product of focus, the general consciousness found on the web varied. For instance, Louis Vuitton’s handbags Alma, Lockit and Capucines, represented by Michelle Williams in Spring/Summer 2014, had the highest mentions on the web. Followed by Double Bag from Prada, who's campaign had Steven Meisel to challenge the world of photography and fashion with his innovative technique of still life. And right after was Lady Dior 2014, that once again stunned the fans with the brand’s favorite muse, Marion Cotillard. The number of mentions reached over 2 million for these brands. While Loewe and Max Mara appeared to be understated on the web with less than 100’000 mentions during the period.

Nevertheless, when a brand’s campaign each season is represented by a celebrity ambassador, they can play a dominant role towards the campaign's awareness. The shift of the campaign awareness can be witnessed among the share of voice in selected advertising campaigns. Versace’s campaign with Lady Gaga passed ahead Louis Vuitton’s campaign with Michelle Williams, and had the highest number of mentions, more than 65 thousands articles were written on the web about this campaign. But the news was overshadowed by the strong controversial image of the singer. Later after the release, a wave of news raised again with leaked pre-Photoshopped images in which Lady Gaga wore no make-up. The sentiment was rather shocking and negative.

On the other hand, brands with lower awareness like Longchamp and Max Mara, gained higher share of voice of the campaigns than their brands’ share of voice in general. Longchamp campaign celebrated the 20th anniversary of the best-selling folded bag, Le Pilage Ciur, and featured Alexa Chung as the iconic bag’s muse. And Max Mara launched the first ever Accessories campaign in Fall/Winter 2013 with Jennifer Garner as the ambassador. Not only was it the first time for Jennifer Garner as a face of a fashion brand, but also the first time for Max Mara to enlist a celebrity as its ambassador. Jennifer Garner remained the spokesperson for the Spring/Summer 2014 campaign, as well.

In the case of Louis Vuitton and Coach, even though the numbers of mentions about the campaigns were in the lead among the other brands, the impact of the ambassadors was not relatively high. Since the shares of voice on the web regarding the brands and campaigns were more or less the same.

Nevertheless, handbags are the key products for both Louis Vuitton and Coach, therefore, people will generally mention the brand next to its handbags, even without the 'celebrity assistance'. Yet, having an advertising campaigns with testimonials, can build anticipation and keep high attention around the brands. Continuing from New York Stories in Autumn/Winter 2013, Coach joined the most demanded models of the moment like Karlie Kloss, Liu Wen and Will Chalker and with the super model, Freja Beha Erichsen, for the Spring/Summer 2014.

While brands with high awareness like Prada, Gucci and Dior, had the least mentions about the campaigns. The specific-campaigns' share of voices were lower than the share of voice of the brands in general.

Brands and Their Content Strategies to Spread the Campaigns

When analyzing the campaign activities of all the social media networks combined, the three most active brands that had the highest number of actions were Gucci with 43 actions, Mulberry with 40 actions and Loewe with 37 actions.

Both Gucci and Mulberry spread the level of activities on the different social media equally and did an average of 14 actions per social media channel. Right after the fashion house unveiled the latest short film, “The Fringe”, an electric sci-fi video dedicated to the new Bamboo Fringe bag, Gucci launched a groundbreaking social media campaign starring the fashion world’s most sought-after female DJs. The campaign was a series of images with each DJs interpreting the bag in different ways. Cara Delevingne picked up her role as the face of the Spring/Summer 2014 Mulberry campaign and Penélope Cruz 
for Loewe.

On the other hand, Max Mara, Versace and Dior were the least active brands about their campaigns on social media. Among the ten brands, Max Mara is the only brand that doesn’t have official Instagram account, and did only 1 Tweet and 2 posts on Facebook. While Dior did 2 actions for each social media, the contents were exactly the same in all the channels. As for Versace, the brand only did activities on Twitter and Facebook, while there was no activity at all on Instagram - a channel that you just cannot ignore when it comes to displaying images and short videos and instantly getting a ton of attention!

In the world of digital marketing today, it is undeniably important that brands need to integrate social media activities into their traditional marketing plans. While most businesses are already aware of the necessity of having a social media strategy, the most important thing is how the marketers can achieve efficient results with their efforts and trigger the right target audience. Even luxury brands with a sense of exclusivity are now striving to find the best ways to engage their audience in this emerging social networking phenomenon.

Find out some suggestions and strategies for brands to leverage their promotion campaigns in the Fashionbi's latest Market Research - Top 10 Celebrity Ad Campaigns of Premium Handbag Brands