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Burberry Brand Communication Strategy: Essay Example

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Burberry is one of the most famous luxury brands in the world. In recent years, this brand managed to achieve a high competitive advantage by implementing innovative marketing strategies, resulting in the attraction of more and more loyal customers. However, to understand what makes Burberry so effective and unique as a luxury brand, it is necessary to briefly describe the history of this brand. Initially, the Burberry company was founded by Thomas Burberry, who had his own drapery business, in the 19th century. From the beginning, Thomas Burberry strived to create light and comfortable fabric (Burberry Ltd., 2017). This innovative fabric was used to create stylish clothes that rapidly became popular. To increase the popularity of its brand, Burberry used effective marketing strategies, and the first target audience of Burberry was sportsmen. Its initial slogan was “designed by sportsmen for sportsmen .” Moreover, Burberry used illustrated advertisements to attract as many potential customers as possible. Another strategy employed by this company was the creation of labels to make their garments distinguishable from imitations. One of the most famous trademarks registered by Burberry is “Equestrian Knight.” This trademark symbolized high protection provided by the fabric as well as a desire for constant innovativeness. At the beginning of the 20th century, Burberry tried to attract even more customers by creating clothes for a female audience. At the end of the 20th century. Burberry started to produce products for children and created more products for women; therefore, it attracted even more customers. Unfortunately, at the end of the 20th century, the company was negatively affected by the Asian crisis, and its revenue significantly decreased. In the 21st century, Burberry managed to address all the challenges created by this crisis by implementing new effective marketing strategies and started to position itself as a luxury brand. Nowadays, Burberry is able to maintain its competitive advantage and is considered one of the most successful luxury brands in the world.

Brand Target

As was already mentioned, Burberry was targeted at a male audience; however, the focus of the Brand target has shifted significantly, especially in the 21st century. The main focus of Burberry is to attract as many potential customers as possible. It should be noted that most luxury brands experience 2% of annual growth, and Burberry could easily achieve such results by choosing a middle-aged man as a target audience. However, Angela Ahrendts and Christopher Bailey have chosen quite risky and, at the same time, quite promising targeting strategies by aiming at Millennials of both genders. 

It is essential to analyze what exactly makes Millennials so desirable and unique target audience. This generation recently became a target of numerous brands, including luxury ones. In 2014, Millennials represented about 25% of the U.S. population, and there were about 79 million of them. Moreover, this audience exceeded the number of Baby Boomers by 3 million (Gailewicz, 2014). Millennials were negatively affected by two huge recessions. The first recession occurred at the beginning of the 20th century, while the second recession was caused by the mortgage crisis in 2009. However, recessions didn’t have a highly destructive effect on the wealth of this generation, and Millennials live in wealthier households than Baby Boomers did at the same age (Gailewicz, 2014). Undoubtedly, this target audience chosen by the Burberry brand is quite demanding and has complex needs that are needed to be considered in order to make people belonging to this generation loyal to the brand. To meet all the demands, Burberry managed to develop a quite complex marketing strategy and heavily relies on informational technologies. Moreover, the brand creates values by emphasizing the uniqueness of its products and allowing clients to purchase luxury clothes at relatively low prices. 

Brand positioning

The brand positioning of Burberry heavily relies on innovations and consistency. The modern brand positioning of Burberry was developed by Christopher Bailey, who made products produced by Burberry both highly functional and at the same time fashionable. The consistency of the brand was exhibited by deriving it from the heritage of the brand (Ritson, 2017). Thus, Burberry positions itself as a highly innovative brand and, at the same time, as a brand having a rich history. While the vast majority of luxury brands believe that it is essential to maintain a level of distance between the luxury brand and the consumer, Burberry challenged this belief, which strengthened the position of this brand on the market (Morley & McMahon, 2011). It should be noted that in the beginning, the Burberry brand was positioned as highly democratic with affordable prices, especially at the beginning of the 20th century. Hence, one of the core democratic values of Burberry manifested in its brand positioning is adherence to its traditions, as well as availability. 

It can be concluded that there are several most important aspects making Burberry’s brand positioning so effective. Firstly, Burberry relies on its democratic past and its impact on the modern products produced nowadays. Secondly, the brand emphasizes its authenticity as well as quality, which makes this brand so attractive for Millennials, who are ready to buy authentic products and pay more for them. Thirdly, Burberry is positioned as a highly innovative brand that always finds new ways to communicate with customers and provide unique services with the help of modern technologies. Fourthly, Burberry creates value for luxury customers, having high purchasing power. This is done by providing exclusive services to these customers and making them feel special. Finally, the brand positions itself as highly interactive because clients can directly interact with the brand’s representatives by sharing their ideas and asking questions.

Communication strategy

Burberry’s communication strategy involves various media to deliver brand-related messages to the audience. The communication strategy heavily relies on modern technologies, particularly social media. It was one of the first luxury brands to use new social media channels (Milnes, 2015). One of the most innovative things Burberry did to make its communication strategy effective was to lunch its own social network, known as The Art of Trench. This was a very smart decision to influence the target audience of Millennials. This website allowed users to share their photographs where they wore Burberry trench coats. Moreover, this social network was integrated with a Facebook connect, which allowed sharing of photos on Facebook. In addition, Burberry hired professional photographers who also made photos for their social network (Milnes, 2015). This strategy allowed Burberry to gain more subscribers on Facebook, as well as to promote its products. The information about products created by this brand was spread by Millennials among their peers, which rapidly made Burberry quite popular. In addition to Facebook and its own social media website, Burberry used Twitter, Periscope, Snapchat, and Instagram. By using Snapchat and Periscope, the brand was able to achieve 100 million impressions during the fashion show in L.A. The chief financial officer claimed that this communication strategy was “the best we’d ever had in terms of digital engagement” (Seb, 2017). This increased mobile sales, and Burberry claimed that about 40% of traffic on their official website is from mobile devices. As for Twitter, Burberry was the first luxury brand that used the “Buy Now” function, allowing potential customers to make purchases simply by clicking twits. Burberry’s communication strategy focuses on mixing various sources of customer traffic, which results in higher mobile purchases, and makes this luxury brand well-known all over the world.

Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry, was a person who developed a new effective communication strategy. Before Ahrendts, the company didn’t have any significant experience in using digital instruments for promoting the brand. In her article “Does Your Brand Tell a Powerful Story?” Angela described the main principles and elements of Burberry’s communication strategy. The main idea of the whole communication strategy of Burberry is to tell a story that would be interesting to as many people as possible. Ahrendts identifies the following principles making Burberry’s communication strategy so effective. The first principle is “Know thyself,” meaning that a brand must clearly communicate its reason for being, its core, and its passion. Another principle is “Dream”; according to it is necessary to take risks, be brave, and be audacious (Ahrendts, 2013). The next principle is “Authentic,” meaning that it is needed to share a consistent and pure vision. “Trust” is another principle mentioned by Angela. It is essential to trust your instincts in order to create a good story. Finally, Angela describes the “Engage, entertain, excite” principle. According to this principle, it is needed to appeal to emotions and make people feel something when they listen to a story or see an advertisement. These are the main principles Angela Ahrendts used to develop Burberry’s brand communication strategy.

In general, the communication strategy focuses on showing that Burberry’s past is directly linked to the modern world. The main goal of Burberry was to emphasize the importance of the long history of the brand and show the clients that the continuation of this history still continues. While trenchcoats look quite traditional, digital technologies are what back this fashion icon back to life. According to Bruining (n.d.), “Burberry’s social marketing strategy conveys a sophisticated message: its merchandise is classic and timeless. It’s a collection of luxury lifestyle essentials.’ Angela emphasized that Burberry is always trying to make clients experience a wide range of emotions; hence before every runway show, Burberry used social networks to create a buzz and make people become excited while they waited for the upcoming event. While there was a period when Burberry was considered outdated, a new communication strategy helped Burberry to become a modern brand, which was literally integrated into the digital world. The main message sent by the Burberry brand was that their products are classic and timeless and that they are associated with a luxury lifestyle. 

In addition to social media, Burberry developed its mobile app as well as website. Both the application and website provide personalization for each customer. As it was mentioned, it is possible to design your own trenchcoat by using the official Burberry website, as well as scarves and other products. This interactivity encourages clients to spend more time on the website and create a product that would perfectly fit clients’ styles. Bailey claimed, “Technology is an intrinsic part of most people’s lives. All we’ve done is make sure to weave technology into the fabric of the company. This is how customers live; they wake up with a device in their hand, and life begins.” (Chris, 2017). So one of the important factors which made Burberry’s communication strategy so effective is availability for the clients. This is a typical client-oriented approach, and to better understand clients’ needs, Burberry hired employees who could better understand the needs of people in the modern world. About 70% of all employees in Burberry’s headquarters in Westminster are under 30 years old (Chris, 2017). Burberry hired employees who were thinking like their potential customers. Millennials better understand what digital trends are going to be the most popular, and what technologies can be used for promoting luxury clothes. Employees working in Burberry are encouraged to peruse social media, which makes them aware of all the important news and other digital content. 

One of the examples of how communication strategy is used is live streams of Burberry, where potential customers can watch fashion shows and even buy products directly from the runway (Morley & McMahon, 2011). Moreover, Christopher Bailey directly communicated with customers by answering their text messages. Obviously, all these strategies were focused on erasing the barrier between the luxury brand and a wide audience of customers. In 2013, Burberry was the leading luxury brand on Facebook, having more than one million fans (Zheng et al., 2013). At the same time, the Burberry brand ensured its level of exclusivity, which is highly important for luxury customers (Morley & McMahon, 2011). Hence, Burberry was finding a balance in maintaining its luxury status with availability for a wide audience. For example, while a wide audience was able to watch fashion shows online, only a selected group of luxury customers had availability to watch the show in 3D. Moreover, Burberry’s elite customers can visit exclusive shows in Milan each year. This is how Burberry was able to create a highly attractive brand image and increase its revenues. 

Burberry managed to achieve a competitive advantage in a digital environment not only because of effectively using social networks but because of using cross-channel messaging (Bruining, n.d.). It means that all messages sent by Burberry are posted on various social networks. It helped Burberry maintain its presence on different social platforms. Videos and photos are posted on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest simultaneously. Moreover, Burberry heavily relies on YouTube channels. There are videos related to makeup, catwalks, and many others. Their channel has 350,000 subscribers, and more than 90 million views, indicating that people are highly interested in content created by Burberry. Many ads published on YouTube channels rapidly become popular, and they are watched not only by subscribers but also by other people. Moreover, Burberry also has very loyal Twitter followers. In fact, there are more than 8 million of them. In addition, there are also many followers of Burberry on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Hence, Burberry managed to achieve a constant presence in the digital world, which positively contributed to its communication strategy, and resulted in higher popularity and better customer involvement. 

Communication mix

As it is known, there are several elements included in the communication mix. These elements are advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing. All these elements are perfectly used by Burberry, which is indicated by a 14% rise in sales (Chris, 2017). While other luxury brands use communication mix quite ineffectively, without paying much attention to digital technologies, Burberry effectively uses online experience to advertise, promote, and sell its own products. The digitalization of the brand made it closer to the clients and significantly improved customers’ loyalty to this brand.

Online advertising used by Burberry is more than effective. The brand uses not only photographs and images but also videos and live streams. As was previously mentioned, Burberry created The Art of Trench project, where professional photographers, as well as usual customers, shared their photos related to this brand. So, one of the main strategies used by Burberry is to encourage clients to create additional digital content that can be used for advertising. This is highly important for Millennials, as well as for other clients, to see that people who purchase Burberry products enjoy their purchase because they share their photos with others. Millennials are official reviewers, critics, tastemakers, and influencers in modern society. Moreover, the income received by this audience is rather high, and Millennials are considered highly loyal to brands (Davis, 2014). In the past, customers’ opinion about high-end fashion was formed by fashion houses that told clients about the latest fashions and literary ordered them what to buy or not. In modern society, Millennials highly rely on the opinions of their peers. As a result, customers themselves act as brand promoters and attract even more loyal customers. To target younger customers, Burberry had to implement strategies focused on online initiative and digital marketing (Goldfingle, 2012). Obviously, customers promoted products to each other, and it was more effective than spending money on traditional advertisements. One of the things encouraging clients to share their photos was Burberry’s emphasis on a strong connection between art and the brand. Thus, people who were making professional photos and sharing them with others believed that they not only became a part of the brand’s history but also created artistic content. Burberry positions photos of customers wearing their products as pieces of art. In addition, the brand has created the “Burberry Acoustic,” which also strengthened the association between the Burberry brand and art. This project helped people to promote their music by performing music acoustically and wearing items from the latest Burberry collection (Chris, 2017). This is another perfect example of an advertising strategy that uses content created by Burberry clients. Personalization also improved Burberry sales and encouraged clients to create content and share it with others. For instance, one of the main products produced by this brand, which is a trenchcoat, is relevant both for past and modern customers. Bailey claimed that the trenchcoat is a democratic piece, that can be used by different people, including men, women, fashionistas, old, young, classic, and traditional (Morley & McMahon, 2011). So one of the main messages that Burberry wants to share with everyone is the ability of the product to fit any audience. This was also achieved by implementing a personalization strategy with the help of the ‘Design your own Burberry Trenchcoat’ option available on their website. Burberry marketers understood that people creating personalized designs would want to ask others’ opinions before buying the product. That is why the possibility of sharing designs made by customers via social networks was added to the website. Clients were not just encouraged to share various digital content related to Burberry, but they were provided with simple instruments allowing them to create this content. Undoubtedly, advertisements and technologies created by Burberry are perfect for improving the brand’s image and attracting new customers, who don’t trust traditional advertisements, but rather trust their friends on social media websites. 

Certain online marketing strategies used by Burberry focus on bringing people to the store and making a sale. Personal salesmen help people at stores to choose what they like or just to take what they’ve already ordered online (Chris, 2017). When a client makes a purchase online, Burberry gets access to various information related to this client, such as the history of previous purchases or social media accounts. Hence, before a person arrives at the store to pick up what was ordered online, salesmen can sell additional products to this person and make recommendations on what else can be bought based on the information related to the client. Additionally, the online services used by Burberry provide an experience of personal selling because life chat with customer service is available (Chris, 2017). There is also a “call me back” feature available on the Burberry website. Therefore, receiving consultations and support is very easy for Burberry’s customers. 

As for sales promotion, Burberry doesn’t frequently use this element of the communication mix. This can be considered an advantage because Burberry is a luxury brand. Obviously, there is no need to offer discounts and encourage customers to buy something by decreasing prices for products; however, in some cases, Burberry can offer discounts up to 50% on certain products. There are also retailers who can offer discounts of up to 70%; however official Burberry website never provides such discounts (Coduti, 2017). Compared with the prices of other luxury brands, prices for Burberry products are relatively low. It should also be emphasized that price means a lot for people buying luxury products. The high price is often associated with quality, and one of the main goals of Burberry was to make the price high enough to attract customers who buy luxury brands quite often, and at the same time to keep the price low enough to make the price bearable for middle-income customers. Thus, Burberry can’t offer discounts quite often, and people can wait for several months to buy the item they want. Customers are notified about discounts via social media services, email, or mobile applications. Hence, it is almost impossible for clients to miss discounts. 

Public relations are one of the most developed elements of the communication mix of Burberry. There are various instruments available for customers to contact Burberry. The most used instrument is the official Facebook page. Customers and people who are just interested in the Burberry brand can ask questions about people who have high positions in the corporate hierarchy of this brand. As it was mentioned above, Bailey communicated with people during live streams. To attract the attention of the public, Burberry also organizes various events, such as the British photography exhibition in Hong Kong, creates murals in London, New York, and other cities, and collaborates with musicians. Detailed information regarding all the events organized or supported by Burberry is provided on all social media pages. The description of every event is provided together with high-quality photos. Other important aspects of Burberry’s public relations are photographs of celebrities wearing products designed by this brand. Of course, the most well-known person who wears Burberry products is Kate Middleton. In fact, the significant rise in sales of Burberry can be explained by the high popularity of this celebrity. Due to the high impact of traditions in English society, everything associated with the royal family rapidly became popular. Of course, Kate Middleton is not the only celebrity wearing Burberry clothes. Naomi Cambell, Sienna Miller, Kate Moss, Cara Delevigne, Emma Watson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Andy Samberg, Barack Obama, and many others literary became fans of Burberry (Telegraph, 2016). Celebrities attract more potential clients, and it should be noted that celebrities wearing Burberry belong to different age groups and gender. Photos of celebrities have become quite popular online and improve the trustworthiness of Burberry as a luxury brand. 

The last but not the least important element is direct marketing. The main source of direct marketing for Burberry is Facebook as well as Burberry mobile application. Social networks, as well as mobile applications, constantly provide clients with notifications regarding important events, discounts, promotions, and new products. Burberry uses artificial intelligence to make direct marketing as effective as possible. Customers are asked to share their personal information, which can later be used to provide clients with personalized recommendations online. Recommendations consider such factors as purchase history and social media activity (Marr, 2017). In addition, all products sold by Burberry in their stores have RFID tags, which can be used to obtain various information regarding the product with the help of a smartphone. Burberry also uses artificial intelligence and big data to identify when direct marketing doesn’t work effectively. For instance, just by changing a product image, it is possible to boost online sales by 100% and more. By analyzing data on the effectiveness of advertisements, Burberry is constantly improving its direct marketing online. Apparently, in the nearest future, Burberry will use cutting-edge technologies to increase its sales and make online luxury shopping as comfortable as possible. Sooner or later they will be able to use artificial intelligence to create automatically create personalized designs for their client, based on the information obtained by analyzing photos, messages on social networks, activity on the Burberry website, and other sources of data. 

Everything discussed above shows that the online communication mix used by Burberry solves numerous problems and provides clients with the unique experience of buying luxury products online. Every year percentage of purchases made online increases, and more and more people understand that even luxury products can be bought on the website. Burberry has all chances of becoming the most successful luxury brand in the world, and the popularity of this brand will only increase in the future. Of course, to maintain a competitive advantage, Burberry will have to constantly improve its own technologies, as well as a communication strategy. For now, the communication strategy used by this brand perfectly aligns with its needs and purposes. Digital technologies significantly increased the income of the company and, at the same time, decreased expenses. Burberry doesn’t need to invest much money to create high-quality advertisements and other related content because the content is created by customers. 

Shopping experience

The online shopping experience proposed by Burberry significantly varies depending on the social media platform used to purchase the product, as well as the device. For instance, some products can be bought on Twitter with a “buy it now” button, while customers can also order products on the official website or by using the mobile application. Clients have to choose among several categories, including “Gifts,” “Women,” “Men,” “Children,” “Beauty,” and “Experience.” All products have high-quality photos, and a detailed description of the material is provided. Customers can check photos of different colors of the product they want to buy, as well as their size. After the order is made, customers can track their shipment either by using the website or application. In general, the website design of Burberry is rather simple, so even a person who orders something for the first time can easily understand how to make the order. The website, as well as the application, are aesthetically beautiful and convenient at the same time. 

Individual self-reflection

Recently, Burberry started to collaborate with Gosha Rubchinskiy, a famous Russian designer. This designer has become popular quite recently, and his clothes are worn by celebrities from all over the world. Some people criticize Rubchinsky for his too simplistic and old-fashioned design; others are ready to spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars to buy clothes designed by him. In addition, Gosha Rubchinsky is inspired by the culture of the USSR, which is quite different compared to the English culture, so some people claim that the results of this collaboration don’t look holistic. Clothes designed by both these brands combine both traditional Burberry designs and clothes inspired by the culture of the 90s in Russia (The Business of Fashion, 2017). It may seem that this collaboration won’t have any positive effect on Burberry, and it will be interesting to understand what communication strategies Burberry will use to attract both Western customers as well as customers from Russia. In recent years, Burberry tried to improve the image of the brand because it was negatively affected by football hooligans, while Gosha Rubchinsky was inspired by underground rave culture, as well as football hooligans. He said, “Their [Burberry’s] timeless pieces are the perfect balance to our modern streetwear, creating a great mix. I’m very happy with the result of our collaborative work.” (The Business of Fashion, 2017). Hence, this decision to collaborate is quite untypical and even risky for Christopher Bailey. It is likely that Burberry will try to find a balance between the image of the luxury brand and the image of the brand that can be used as streetwear for marginalized social groups. That is why this collaboration looks so interesting, and it is quite difficult to predict what communication strategy Christopher Bailey will use. Hence, the subject that is chosen by me was “Communication strategy used by Burberry Brand while collaborating with Gosha Rubchinsky.” It is also interesting that many people started to criticize Burberry for this collaboration, hence Bailey will have to find a way to explain its purpose, and persuade loyal clients that this collaboration is useful for the brand. While one of the main ideas of the Burberry brand is to be consistent, this decision doesn’t align with the previous marketing strategy used by this brand. That is why this topic is so interesting for me because this collaboration is extraordinary for Burberry. 

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