As is L2’s tradition, at the start of the new year, we publish a series of predictions about the 12 months ahead. With particular focus on the digital and the prestige, these predictions cover the gamut; from broad topics like e-commerce and regional demand, to narrower trends pertaining to specific social media platforms, luxury brands and retail companies, our analysts came up with eight bold forecasts for 2013. The first of these is that the social landscape will continue to shift. Though aging Facebook was battered in 2012 by an embarrassingly overvalued IPO and a streak of privacy breach scares, Zuckerberg’s billion-person platform will remain relevant and important in the coming months.
For brands, Facebook is still the most effective method for sharing content and helping it to go viral. Big numbers aren’t everything when it comes to a luxury brand’s social ROI, but those millions of likes are critical in moving content online. There’s no doubt that users are using Facebook differently — and less — in the wake of newer, more agile specialty social sites. This is especially true for the web savvy — i.e., those who use social media as a news aggregator and professional tool rather than for basic sharing. But for the foreseeable future, Facebook is still the account no brand can afford to abandon and no user is willing to delete.
The biggest darling of last year, Pinterest, will continue to establish itself in 2013, particularly among women and in the domestic verticals (where the site has proved its strongest influence), such as cooking, home decor, and party planning. Luxury brands align nicely with Pinterest’s visually-focused layout; fashion and beauty-related pins, as well as the magazine boards from which they often originate, will continue to leverage the platform for sharing into the new year.
Social sites like foursquare and tumblr, whose value-added has been slowly displaced over time by more comprehensive sites’ added features, will be the year’s least relevant platforms for luxury brands. What our research has shown is that for high-end brands, the functions these sites — and even Twitter — offer simply don’t lead to significant upstream or downstream traffic. The ones that do generate traffic, namely Instagram, YouTube, and carefully vetted/curated user-generated content (see Jimmy Choo Stylemaker 24:7 for a great example), will lead the way.
Check back tomorrow for a deeper cut at our next prediction: the blurring between offline and online retail.