Facebook brings luxury retail to ‘speed of feed’

Luxury brands have been tiptoeing around the idea of being on Facebook. Even in today’s digital age, there’s still a slight hesitation when it comes to ‘going online’– especially on social media. The reason being the risk of sacrificing exclusivity, which is what luxury brands are all about.

Facebook, with its aggressive marketing, has seen a great market opportunity in this niche and is going full force in convincing high-end brands to join in on the conversation.

Karin Tracy, InStyle’s former publisher, is now Facebook’s beauty industry lead. Her main task is to court major luxury brands and get them on board social media. Just this week, Facebook held an inaugural luxury forum, with the sole purpose of convincing brands to hop on the bandwagon. “I know you’ve maintained tight control over your brand identity and your messaging and that’s understandable,” said Tracy. “The luxury industry is built on legacy, heritage and craftsmanship. But we must understand that these one-on-one relationships that you’ve built for years are shifting.”

Thomas Puckett, one of Facebook’s creative strategists, confirmed this by saying that people go to their phones first and most frequently, like a hummingbird throughout the day, and brands can be there every time, bringing content to them.

This apparent point was also complemented by Facebook’s team acknowledging the fact that luxury is still an in-store retail experience. One solution that Facebook found for this are new technologies like virtual reality, said another Facebook creative strategist Spencer Mandell.

Case studies of this would be virtually experiencing the Met Gala real time, or test driving a Bentley.

“We know that luxury is largely an offline experience,” Mandell said. “You want to feel the leather on that Gucci bag and you want to hear the roar of that high-performance engine, so how do we translate those experiences online in a feed-based environment?”

Big brands like Maserati and Barneys also gave their two cents in the forum – citing their brands’ firsthand encounters with Facebook. Maserati marketing communications manager Joe Barbagallo said that the social media platform proved to be an effective part of their marketing strategy – that they were able to find an audience on Facebook to sell 80% of their product lineup.

Barneys explored “digitally influenced sales”, creating a customer journey from discovering the brand to closing a sale in-store. Barneys CEO Daniella Vitale admitted to being late in the [e-commerce] game. 

Overall, Tracy’s biggest statement is asking brands to change their perspectives. “It’s about you all shifting the way you think,” Tracy said. “This is the moment to be bold, because whoever moves the fastest will have the competitive advantage in the space we’re living in today. We’re living our lives in the speed of feed.”






Karin Tracy, InStyle


Joe Barbagallo, Maserati