14 February 2012 | Tanya Goodin

Tamar’s Brand Love on Valentine’s Day: British high-end vs high street fashion brands

With love in the air on Valentine’s Day we’re releasing the latest infographic in Tamar’s “Brand Love” series which ranks Britain’s ‘Best Loved’ brands, as measured by their social media communities.

We spend at lot of time at Tamar thinking about how consumers show they ‘love’ a brand, and what that means. What makes a brand well loved? Is it possible to track how customers demonstrate their love for a brand through their online interactions? And, in these tricky times, how successful are those brands at translating ‘love’ into profit?

When we started the Brand Love series in 2011 we decided to measure ‘love’ by the degree of social interactions with the brand online. There are lots of different measures and our table deliberately lays itself wide open to challenges of metrics that haven’t been considered. But as a very transparent, easily trackable measure it’s still effective. This year we’ve been able to add some of the newer social platforms to our metric (like Pinterest and Instagram) as more brands have adopted them.

Our thinking is that if you’re following a brand on Twitter (or Instagram or Pinterest) and engaging with it on Facebook, that suggests your feeling about it is somewhat stronger than mere ‘awareness’. You’re interested in what that brand has to say and you want to get news and updates about its activity. Following a brand shows you’re actively involved with it, not just a passive appreciator of its charms. That kind of active involvement is what every brand in the social media age is seeking. Engaged fans will buy your brand time and time again over any competitor because they feel ownership and involvement.

It’s Social Media Week in London this week and London Fashion Week kicks off on Friday, so this Brand Love infographic looks at how well-loved British fashion brands are in 2012. And how British high-end fashion brands like Burberry and Victoria Beckham stack up against the British ‘high street’ represented by brands such as ASOS and Topshop.

No surprise that Burberry are way out ahead of the pack with a combined social media community of 11mill+. They’re simply off the scale compared to other fashion brands, both British and global. Burberry COO Christopher Bailey says that “digital innovation is an integral part of the culture at Burberry” and the brand has led the fashion pack in investing in digital and particularly in social media. Burberry has consistently innovated, being one of the first to launch a mobile-commerce site, offering buying off-the-runway of certain items and it held the first ever ‘Tweet Walk’ in 2011 (“Burberry works with Twitter to create social media history“) where each look was tweeted backstage before hitting the ramp – the show was also streamed live on Facebook.

Over on the high street, Topshop and Asos have also capitalised on the social media revolution by using social media to show celebrities (like Alexa Chung) and well-known fashion bloggers (like Suzie Bubble) wearing their clothes. They promote celebrity designer collections (currently Mary Katrantzou for Topshop) heavily via social media platforms and tweet from the catwalk at fashion weeks, both brands are currently at New York Fashion Week tweeting runway shots.

In looking at the differences between the high-end and high street brands we saw that the social media interactions of the high-end brands are much more focused on strengthening brand image rather than driving direct sales. The high street brands, on the other hand, hardly ever tweet or post a status update without including a direct link to buy that product. They’re very much using social as a sales tool.

However, even though brand building may be the focus for a high-end brand like Burberry it has very definitely had a huge impact on sales. At the end of last year the brand credited its revenue growth (£830m in the six months to 30 September 2011, which pushed pre-tax profit up 26% to £162m) directly to the decision to switch the majority of its marketing spend to digital. It’s said to spend over 60% of its marketing budget on digital channels, about three times the average investment by most brands in most sectors.

The next stage in our Brand Love journey has always been about examining the propensity of each brand to translate ‘love’ not just into sales, but into profit. Burberry have come right out and admitted that their investment in digital and social has boosted profit. We’d love to hear from other fashion brands on how they’re feeling the love today! Happy Valentine’s Day.

Tanya Goodin

Tanya Goodin

Founder of Tamar