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  • Luxury in Instagram’s Eyes Burberry, Louis Vuitton & Gucci

    Student Name: Nour Al-Najjar Student Number: 384584 Supervisor: Jason Pridmore

    Second reader: Ericka Menchen-Trevino Media & Business

    Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication Erasmus University Rotterdam Master Thesis Hand in date: June 20th

  • Table of Contents

    Abstract ......................................................................................................................................... 3

    1. Introduction .............................................................................................................................. 4 1.1 Brands Background ................................................................................................................................................................. 7 1.2 Social Media Background ........................................................................................................................................................10

    2. Theoretical framework ............................................................................................................. 11 2.1 Definition of Branding and the Concepts Brand Identity and Brand Image ......................................................12 2.2 Definition of Luxury and Luxury Fashion Brands .........................................................................................................14 2.3 The Luxury World ......................................................................................................................................................................16

    2.3.1 Luxury Market ............................................................................................................................................................................... 16 2.3.2 Target Segment ............................................................................................................................................................................ 18

    2.4 Marketing as a Performance ..................................................................................................................................................19 2.4.1 Marketing as a Performance on social media ................................................................................................................ 20

    2.5 Luxury Communication on Social Media ..........................................................................................................................22 2.5.1 Visual communications ............................................................................................................................................................. 22 2.5.2 Followers’ communication ...................................................................................................................................................... 24

    3. Methods .................................................................................................................................. 26 3.1 Visual analysis .............................................................................................................................................................................28

    3.1.1 Visual Images Sample ................................................................................................................................................................ 29 3.1.2 Coding ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 30 3.1.3 Open Coding ................................................................................................................................................................................... 31 3.1.4 Axial coding .................................................................................................................................................................................... 33 3.1.5 Selective coding ............................................................................................................................................................................ 34

    3.2 Qualitative Content Analysis of Comments and Hashtags.........................................................................................34 3.2.1 Followers’ Comments Sample ................................................................................................................................................ 35

    4. Data Analysis & Results ............................................................................................................ 36 4.1 Qualitative Content analysis of Visual Posts ...................................................................................................................37 4.2 Qualitative Content Analysis of Comments .....................................................................................................................47

    5. Discussion ................................................................................................................................ 58 5.1 Limitation of the Study.............................................................................................................................................................62

    6. Conclusion ............................................................................................................................... 64 6.1 Future Research ..........................................................................................................................................................................66

    Reference: ................................................................................................................................... 68

    Appendices .................................................................................................................................. 78 Appendix A: Louis Vuitton Codebook .......................................................................................................................................78 Appendix B: Gucci Codebook ........................................................................................................................................................89 Appendix C: Burberry Codebook ............................................................................................................................................. 100 Appendix D: Comments Codebook .......................................................................................................................................... 111 Appendix E: Image Codes Guidelines ..................................................................................................................................... 123 Appendix F: Comments Code Guidelines .............................................................................................................................. 124

  • 3

    Abstract

    Social scientists are struggling to define and measure luxury in the contemporary

    marketing practices. It became an even more evolving issue when introducing the luxury

    marketing practices on social media platforms. In the absence of a clear definition for an

    intangible phenomenon like luxury and the luxury marketing as performance held on

    inexpensive sources such as social media, exploring this phenomenon from a new point

    of view is essential. This study takes three exemplary brands to represent the luxury

    fashion sector, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Gucci and investigated the marketing

    practices held on Instagram. To begin with a qualitative content analysis of the visual

    posts by the three brands on Instagram was conducted to understand the marketing

    communication techniques used. Followed by a qualitative content analysis of comments

    by followers on these visual posts, to comprehend the language of comments and their

    role in the ‘luxury performance’. The findings suggest that the brands on Instagram

    emphasized on communicating luxury brand associations more regular than traditional

    marketing practices, those associations were chosen to fit to the visual images and to

    Instagram as a medium. Followers’ responses were mainly positive, and showed

    emotional attachment towards the brands. The communicated brand associations from the

    brand corresponded to a great level with the perceived message seen in the form of

    comments by followers. Some contradictions do exist between communication luxury

    brand associations on Instagram, but there is no effect on maintaining, sustaining and

    ‘performing luxury’ on Instagram.

    Keywords: Luxury, luxury as a marketing performance, brands, fashion brands,

    marketing communication, brand associations, social media, Instagram.

  • 4

    1. Introduction

    Luxury marketing has gained maturity and expansion in the last couple of decades. The

    market value and the rate of growth of luxury goods, in comparison to other goods in the

    same category, have increased dramatically in the past 10 years (Fionda & Moore, 2009).

    As the luxury market grew, it also simultaneously shifted away from its origin in the

    market. Luxury in the past was more exclusive than it is today; the idea of luxury goods

    was linked to aristocrats, European kings, a