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SXSW

Why YouTube Is a More Important Platform Than Snapchat for Luxury Brands

High-end marketers lag behind in digital

Many luxury brands are still trying to figure out how to build up their digital work. Getty Images

Even as brands like Burberry, Chanel and Louis Vuitton are building buzz via Snapchat with videos and posts that target millennials, luxury marketers should be wary about going all-in on the app, according to digital marketing execs who spoke about high-end brands on a panel at South by Southwest Interactive.

Luxury marketers—which have traditionally been slower than others to adapt to digital—are working Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, but unlike others, they're still trying to nail down digital basics like YouTube and search marketing.

"All brands are monitoring Snapchat, saying [that] Snapchat is the coolest for millennials—it's not true," said Gregory Pouy, CEO of LaMercatique, a New York marketing firm that works with luxury brands like TAG Heuer and Guerlain. "The coolest tool for millennials is YouTube."

Pouy said he's interested to see luxury brands on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram when "they don't even have a properly organized YouTube page. I think YouTube is way more important because of SEO and how people search for information."

Thomas Serrano, founder and president of Havas Luxe, added that the stories luxury brands often want to tell on Snapchat are tough to convey in videos that are only seconds long.

"Right now, most brands are engaging with Snapchat, and most of the luxury brands are not," he said. "[Luxury] brands are like, 'What can I do in eight seconds? My story and my brand is much more complex than that.'"

Pouy said Instagram and virtual reality are particularly interesting for luxury brands because they're able to create longer and more compelling content.

VR transports users into digital experiences that mimic real-life scenarios like being in a store or at an event. And more fashion brands are designing collections specifically to be photographed on Instagram before the clothes are available in stores, maintaining a bit of exclusivity for marketers.

"Today, Instagram is more important than magazines," Pouy said. "More and more catwalks are made for Instagram because when the designer thinks about the product, they're going to think, 'Oh, this [will] look good on Instagram.'"

To pull off all the digital bells and whistles, luxury brands are slowly beefing up their budgets, but it's a challenge, said Judy Bassaly, former vp of trade marketing and business development at Giorgio Armani.

"You just need more money—bottom line," she said. "Digital is now about creating content and amplifying the noise. You don't want to communicate your messages to the masses—you're going to want to geo-target and go after specific target groups. And you're able to do that on Facebook, but it comes at a price."

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