Social media case study: Burberry encourages customer participation with ‘Art of Trench’

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Back in 2009, Burberry made the leap to social media with The Art of Trench’ an innovative micro-site that encouraged user-generated content. Users were encouraged to upload photos of themselves in their trench coats and can browse and comment on photos from all around the world. This case study looks at how the luxury capitalised on the new medium without eroding the exclusive, aspirational qualities that are core to the world of luxury.

Brand: Burberry | Sector: Luxury | Country: UK | Partner/agency: Razorfish | Objective: brand awareness, consideration and purchase | Format: Video, YouTube, Viral, Social media

The aim of the campaign was to create an online environment that mirrored Burberry’s luxury image, where existing customers could share photos of themselves wearing their Burberry trench coats, giving them their '15 minutes of fame' as models on the site, and allowing other customers to admire their sense of style.

The Art of the Trench site was designed carefully to walk the fine line between appealing to Burberry's high-end customer base and also generating interest in the new youthful, aspirational future customer.

For this reason, the campaign was designed as a standalone social media platform, instead of being hosted on an existing platform. This ensured Burberry had control over the look and feel of the site that existing platforms such as Facebook could not offer.

The initial idea centred on the trench and the team opted to stick with this limited focus rather than include other apparel.

The site also features photographs from fashion photographer and blogger Scott Schuman who has traveled the globe taking street style trench coat photos.

In the year following the launch of the Art of the Trench in November 2009, Burberry's Facebook fan base grew to more than one million, the largest fan count in the luxury sector at the time. E-commerce sales grew 50 per cent year-over-year, an increase partially attributed to higher web traffic from the Art of the Trench site and Facebook. The site had 7.5 million views from 150 countries in the first year. Conversion rates from the Art of the Trench click-throughs to the Burberry website were significantly higher than those from other sources. By all metrics, quantitative and qualitative, the campaign was a success.

The success of the Art of the Trench affirmed Burberry's strategic focus on digital. By 2012, Burberry had moved 60 per cent of its marketing budget to digital. It also had the most number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers in the luxury sector. CEO Bailey described Burberry as being "as much a media-content company as a design company".

Burberry has executed many other digital innovations, setting the bar for online customer engagement. Each of these initiatives has built on the digital strategy Burberry kicked off with the Art of the Trench, and has led to the brand's pre-eminent status as a tech-savvy brand.

Expanding to social media platforms and YouTube video

Burberry clearly understands that interactive and engaging social media is vital to enable them to appear relevant to their target audience. The success of their social media marketing strategy is evident in the number of fans and followers they have accumulated, they currently have 14, 241, 285 likes on Facebook and 1,403, 981 followers on Twitter.

Burberry also has its own, successful channel on You Tube. The channel brings together all aspects of their marketing campaigns hosting Video adverts, Burberry Acoustic music videos, behind the scenes films, interviews and catwalk shows. Burberry’s offerings are clearly engaging; to date, the channel has 47, 061 subscribers and 17,769,628 video views.

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