August 14, 2018 / James Hughes
Luxury brands can often have difficulty on social media trying to find where, geographically, their customers are located, where they’re talking, where they’re communicating, and why. Luckily, science might be able to give them some help in positioning their products. A study by Walasek, Bhatia, & Brown (2017) examined social media patterns around high and low status products, to test a theory about social ranks. They found that in geographic areas with high income disparities, social media users more frequently mentioned the types of products they used and identified more with brands. The researchers theorized that this was a way to display their social class, as a more diverse area would train people to show their social ranks more often than those in more homogeneous areas.
What this means for managers:
The implication of this study for managers is that when using targeted social media to promote luxury brands, aim for geographic areas with higher income disparity. This is because those social media members are more likely to flaunt and communicate about your brand than users in high-income-only areas. This type of “social peacocking” is not only useful to those users (to demonstrate their higher class), but an effect way to create word-of-mouth campaigns that will spill over to other high-income areas.
Thanks for reading,
Walasek, L. , Bhatia, S. and Brown, G. D. (2018), Positional Goods and the Social Rank Hypothesis: Income Inequality Affects Online Chatter about High‐ and Low‐Status Brands on Twitter. J Consumer Psychology, 28: 138-148. doi:10.1002/jcpy.1012