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Messenger Apps: the New Storytelling Frontier for Luxury Brands



Laurent François, managing partner of 180 LUXE and 180 Social charts the possibilities messenger apps hold for luxury brands when it comes to community engagement and customer experience

Messenger Apps: the New Storytelling Frontier for Luxury Brands

WhatsApp. Two billion users. 100 billion messages. Every day. Messenger apps are where the world talks to one another; where groups gather. For brands this is an opportunity in community building, one that many have not fully tapped into. Until now.

When it comes to luxury brands, messenger apps have been used for a number of years to create one-on-one conversations with their most affluent customers. Whether it was for private sales, invitations to events, or simply casual conversations to bond with their customers, messenger platforms are at the very heart of the daily way they interact with their customers. 

But now, what used to be reserved for an elite has been democratised, at least for three reasons. Firstly, as a result of the influence of WeChat in Asia and the fact that almost every digital experience happens through the app, whether it’s to book a restaurant or organise one’s life. Secondly, platforms have been working to reach SMEs as well as large companies with ‘plug-and-play’ solutions. And thirdly, billions of customers interact with businesses through messenger apps every day; this is community building as they could be  

But when it comes to branded campaigns, and storytelling, these messenger platforms have always been a tricky space to step into for brands. Too heavy handed and you lose customers, perhaps for life. And, when a platform such as this operates on the basis of ‘real’ connection and communication, what is a brand’s role?

Listen to your community

First up, it’s more important than ever for a brand to fully understand its community’s behaviour. To immerse itself in how they move through the digital space, and to offer them interactions with the brand that feel authentic to who it is as a brand.

For luxury brands, particularly in the beauty space, messenger apps are a space where their communities are already discussing new product launches, campaigns and ambassadors. These apps are the new storytelling frontier, a demonstration of the new social marketing opportunities beyond Instagram. 

The integration of conversational features, like GIPHY, creates a new nest of opportunities, opening new horizons for storytelling and brand marketing, potentially leading brands to ecosystems that are already well rooted in South Korea, Japan or China. 

The power of exclusivity

People always have, and possibly always will, love an exclusive. To be the first to know, to access or to have a particular product. This is where messenger apps can elevate that feeling of exclusivity.

In an industry-first campaign from 180 LUXE and DIOR Beauty, the team worked with the brand's ambassador, global icon BLɅϽKPIИK’s Jisoo, to give the brand's Instagram community access to four days of exclusive content and conversations over WhatsApp to mark the launch of the latest DIOR Addict lipstick. 

By signing up to an exclusive list - the WhatsApp group reached capacity on the first day - people could interact directly with Jisoo herself, choosing the content they received, which was bespoke to the platform and conversation. 

Participation was in the tens of thousands and users interacted with the chatbot an average of 18 times each. Users also shared this exclusive content across other social platforms, creating memes and generating an impressive earned media value.

Elevated customer experience

By creating a space for customers to interact with brands on arguably one of their most-used messenger services, brands are not asking their customers to step away from what they already know. They remain on the platforms they are familiar with, and can interact with brands there. 

DIOR’s WhatsApp campaign with Jisoo offered a customer-experience first at the crossroads of customer service, community management, and brand content. It’s a far cry from the early technological customer experience interactions where a glitchy chatbot would ask you the same question four times, only to provide you with an answer so far from what you were looking for that you never use the service again. 

Messenger apps also allow the storytelling to be clearer for the end-user: by dispatching content and experience at the right pace, to a captive audience, it adds to the coherence of the campaign, giving a clear, timely and progressive immersion. It solves, to a certain extent, the problem of consistency for brands when, in the past, they would have had to manage hundreds of different channels alongside navigating the limited attention span of their customers.

Radical collaboration between luxury beauty and technology

Engaging with messenger apps as a primary communication channel pushes the boundaries of how luxury beauty and technology can radically collaborate to deliver innovative experiences across the channels already known and loved by customers. 

When it came to the DIOR campaign, the brand collaborated with 180 LUXE and tech company Infobip to ensure the WhatsApp experience was as seamless as possible for the end user. The collaboration was essential to bring this industry-first campaign to life.

From customer experience to conversational marketing

Using messenger apps means brands can think outside the box around how they engage with the dedicated community they might have on other social platforms. A campaign such as DIOR’s gives people the opportunity to chat to the brand’s ambassador like they would a friend, even though they are a celebrity so famous they have over 60 million followers on their Instagram.

Messenger apps turn the customer experience into true conversational marketing, opening strong possibilities in terms of ecommerce as well. The community is in direct communication with the ‘brand’, able to choose the content they want to receive, whilst also engaging in an interaction that feels truly genuine. 

Messenger apps give brands the opportunity to take their digital engagement to new heights. They allow brands to re-define how their marketing and communication brings their story to life by regrouping the best of tech, conversational marketing and community-driven approaches.

For brands, particularly those in the luxury beauty space, messenger apps are the next storytelling frontier.

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180 Amsterdam, Thu, 21 Jul 2022 12:54:36 GMT