Bottega Veneta is causing a bit of a stir in the fashion world with its social media strategy.
The luxury fashion label’s latest move was to wipe all content from its Weibo account this week in China. That followed the disabling of its corporate Instagram feed in the west in January after amassing more than 2.5 million followers.
The apparent pullback might seem puzzling at a time when fashion brands have been relying on platforms like Instagram to showcase collections during the pandemic. Francois-Henri Pinault, chief executive officer of Bottega’s parent company, Kering SA, was pushed to address the rationale behind the Instagram exit at the company’s earnings call this month.
“It’s not that we’re disappearing from social media; we’re just using them differently,” Pinault told reporters on 17 February after Kering presented its annual results. He said the brand had decided to rely more on so-called ambassadors, or “fans” to market products.
Some industry watchers think it’s a savvy PR move, particularly for high-end brands.
“Luxury brands are based on a subtle blend of desirability and exclusivity,” said David Sadigh, chief executive officer of Digital Luxury Group, a marketing agency. “Does this move help in fostering this? Absolutely yes.”
Dismantling the corporate Instagram account may also be a way to bring more consumers to Bottega’s own website, rather than giving platforms like Instagram-owner Facebook Inc. privileged access to customer data, Sadigh said. It’s unlikely Bottega will exit the larger WeChat platform in China, he added.
On Instagram, shoppers can still browse the account @newbottega, curated by Laura Rossi. It describes itself as being dedicated to the work of Daniel Lee, the Bottega creative director behind the success of products like the padded-leather cassette bag. Rossi didn’t respond to requests for comment on the details of her relationship with the company, and Bottega Veneta declined to comment for this story.
Kering is providing its social media ambassadors with the “necessary means” to serve the brand, Pinault said on the earnings call, without giving details. There are signs the moves haven’t curtailed interest. Searches for Bottega Veneta on the fashion shopping platform Lyst more than tripled between Jan. 1 and Feb. 19, according to a Lyst spokesman.
Other luxury brands seem to be limiting social media exposure. The Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe restricts its Instagram posts to the 18th of every month and last uploaded a video on Facebook more than two years ago.