Luxury brands' missed opportunity: YouTube

Luxury fashion brands sashayed their way to substantially more YouTube views in 2014. But they still have a lot of runway ahead for growth on the social media platform.

According to a new report by think tank L2, conducted in partnership with YouTube ad buying platform Pixability, fashion brands increased views on the video site by 204 percent as of October, as compared to the prior year's total. The 90 brands examined also boosted their subscriber base by 87 percent, with Chanel, Dior and Burberry leading the way.

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Despite this improvement, the report noted fashion brands "consistently fail to optimize their YouTube presence," in part because the majority of their content fails to appear in the top slot of search results for their respective brands.

While luxury retailers have a presence on YouTube and other platforms, it can be challenging to determine how much of that currency is converted to sales.

A holiday window display at Bloombingdales in New York.
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A separate study by AOL Platforms examined the return for retailers that invest in digital platforms.

"The average fashion brand maintains 33 percent fewer YouTube subscribers than Pinterest followers, underperforming benchmarks set by leading fashion outlets, including FashionTV and StyleHaul," according to the L2 report.

To be fair, L2 also offers digital consulting services to fashion and luxury brands.

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The study is the latest data that highlights the substantial headwinds facing luxury labels, which continue to trail other industries' digital offerings. Earlier this month, a study by integrated marketing firm PM Digital found that five brands — Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Coach, Gucci and Louis Vuitton — account for nearly 70 percent of desktop and mobile traffic for the category.

Also in December, Epsilon and the Luxury Institute issued a report that found luxury brands lose 50 percent of their best customers each year because they fail to properly identify them.

Regardless of these challenges, high-end retailers are expected to report some of the strongest retail sales this holiday, thanks in part to the rising stock market. Typically, equity gains have been marked by shoppers spending more on luxury items.