More than a professional networking site, LinkedIn is paving the way for marketers to connect with an engaged luxury community, write Luxurynsight’s Jonathan Siboni and Tatiana Dupond, Head of Luxury at LinkedIn.

The Covid-19 crisis feels like a watershed moment for luxury. Brands are navigating unprecedented short-term disruption with contracting sales and locked-down supply chains and operations. They will emerge from the crisis into a world where the emotions and motivations of luxury buyers have evolved. Bain & Company has predicted that successful marketing strategies will be those that can incorporate digital shopping experiences, heightened social and environmental consciousness and the growth of a post-aspirational mindset. We’ll need to express luxury brand values in a way that talks to ethics as much as to aesthetics.

Although today’s tragic situation has taken us by surprise, none of these trends is entirely new. All are on the agenda of innovative and responsive luxury marketers who are designing strategies for the next generation of buyers. Together, millennials and Gen Z will represent 55 per cent of the global luxury market by 2025 (Bain). For them, beautiful photography, craftsmanship and heritage already have more meaning when they are connected to a sense of purpose.

They expect to own, wear, drive and experience brands that represent support for communities as well as respect and value for employees. These trends require luxury brands to share deeper, more holistic and more transparent narratives with their audiences. And many are already investing in doing exactly that. A growing number of these experiences are taking place on a platform that has increased in importance for luxury brands in recent years: LinkedIn.

From global professional network to luxury community

Watches and jewellery brands were the pioneers of luxury marketing on LinkedIn. They were attracted by the tactical marketing opportunities that the platform’s data set provided. Patek Philippe, Baume & Mercier and Ulysse Nardin spotted the value of using LinkedIn’s professional data to talk to millennial buyers at milestone moments in their lives and careers, such as landing their first job or earning a promotion.

Marketers swiftly came to realise that LinkedIn’s value goes beyond a particular type of targeting. The world’s largest professional network talks to ambitious, aspirational and high-net-worth audiences at scale – and about far more than their business-related purchases.

Today, Cartier, Chanel, Maserati, Swarovski, Chloé and Dior are in LinkedIn feeds. Some brands create a rich and evocative content platform, engaging audiences with video ads and stories, iconic image-led campaigns and virtual experiences such as live-stream Fashion Week shows. Luxury represents one of the most engaged-with content categories on the LinkedIn platform, be it from fragrance and beauty, watchmakers or fashion brands.

Deeper engagement for more holistic brand stories

How is LinkedIn emerging as an innovative luxury marketing experience for the 21st century? There are three characteristics that make the platform a great place for sharing brand culture in the holistic way that marketing strategies now require.

It starts with the audience. LinkedIn now has more than 675 million registered members worldwide. Those members over-index on every key characteristic for luxury marketers. They have by far the highest buying power of any social platform, with levels of luxury purchase intent that puts the platform on par with premium publishers such as The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. And, this is an audience that comes with a wide range of targeting options. Marketers can use LinkedIn’s rich and robust demographic data, interest-based targeting, bespoke audience segments built from brands’ own insights, and LinkedIn’s custom segments to deliver audiences like business travellers, mass affluents and career changers, at scale.

Confidence in reaching the right audience matters hugely to luxury marketers navigating a more digital buying landscape. What’s even more important is the promise of reaching them in the right mindset. The particular role that LinkedIn plays in its members’ lives has emerged as an important asset in this respect. It’s an enabler of life goals; a space associated with taking control of career and financial status, even in difficult times. Seventy-one per cent of LinkedIn members say their time on the platform helps them pursue lifelong aspirations, at least 20 per cent more than all other social media.

LinkedIn members are twice as likely to describe themselves as feeling ambitious, accomplished, purposeful, confident and respected after using the platform. Because members consider time on LinkedIn as invested rather than just spent, they scroll more slowly and engage more deeply with content in the feed. They do so in a clean, uncluttered environment that made it the most trusted in social media, according to the 2020 Business Insider Digital Trust Report. This combination of time, trust and a quality member experience drive some of the highest engagement rates on digital platforms. Fashion brands live streaming catwalk shows report that their highest-quality engagement is on LinkedIn.

The future of luxury brands will depend on reaching audiences in spaces where they have the time and inclination to engage with deeper brand narratives – and to do so with curious, open minds. This will require innovative, open-minded thinking from luxury marketers themselves. LinkedIn is emerging as one of the most innovative platforms for applying that thinking.