With a penchant for opulence on every possible level and a more is more approach to, well, everything, Gucci has emerged as the leading luxury brand on TikTok. The Italian fashion label has a surprisingly blasé approach to the social media app that appears to be working well. At least according to their 1.8 million followers.
While their bio reads: “No bio yet,” Gucci’s TikTok account is definitely not a work in progress. With a following built from the success of user generated viral challenges and highly produced, but still very on-brand, creative campaigns for the app, Gucci should actually serve as a point of reference for other luxury brands.
Over the past two years, TikTok has become the destination to connect with younger generations of consumers, with a major focus on Gen Z. Compared to any other app, they have the highest reach for the 18 to 24 age group, reaching 25% of female users and 17.9% of males. This generation is particularly receptive to brands that “pass the vibe check,” especially if those brands actually start trends and emerge as cultural leaders in the space.
And it almost feels like a chicken or the egg situation when it comes to Gucci’s TikTok. As in, did the account become popular because it’s Gucci, or did TikTok users make the account popular on their own accord?
See, Morgan Presley invented what has since been dubbed the #GucciModelChallenge in the fall of 2020, when she layered mismatched clothing into what appeared to be a look that was fresh off the Gucci runway. This inspired countless other users to layer a colorful turtleneck with a floral vest and a clashing jacket, throw on a teeny mini skirt over shiny pants, step into socks and heels and finish it all off with a headscarf and oversized sunglasses, and post about building the look on their account. This challenge became a user-generated trend that grew and grew and grew (the hashtag #guccimodelchallenge now has 292 million views). But rather than hit users with a cease-and-desist for improper use of the Gucci name or—even worse—ignore the trend completely, Gucci began reposting the most stylish ‘fits and even cast a few of the creators, including 20 year old Fiona Akerman (@itsfionatho) from the Philippines, in an ad campaign with Dazed on TikTok.
Since then, Gucci has continued to excel at coloring outside the lines on TikTok. That includes partnering with influencers who aren’t even in the fashion space. They contracted potter Lisa Asano (@speckledbrownie) to throw a stunning double-G emblazoned vase on a pottery wheel—while bedecked in a logoed suit to match. And they’ve made Francis Bourgeois (@francis.bourgeois), the endearingly nerdy trainspotter, into one of the most unexpected brand ambassadors for their pricey wares. In fact, they even dressed Frances for a Gucci runway show (making him look like “a cool conductor,” in Francis’ words) and have tapped him to star in their ad campaign to promote a collaboration with The North Face.
Sure, this content might be super niche but to a viewer, especially a young one, it also feels like an unexpected melding of their favorite things: the influencer who they can’t get enough of and the pricey brand they’ve always dreamed of shopping from. This crossover of lifestyle influencers for such a luxe fashion brand also helps Gucci diversify the type of potential customer who could see themselves rocking sparkling platform loafers or saving up to buy a T-shirt.
Most of the content Gucci is making in-house feels incredibly tailored to the app itself, too. There are plenty of extremely awkward videos of models dancing that lead to plenty of engagement (and not all of it positive). But really, it’s the embrace of all things over-the-top that make even the simplest model video (in a rather expensive-looking scene that’s covered with double G’s on nearly every surface) feel worthy of commenting and sharing.
But does all of that engagement and spend on fancy sets and partnerships with varied influencers actually help Gucci’s bottom line? Well, it might, since TikTok serves as the top app for driving consumer spending according to HootSuite, despite not having a sleek click-to-shop functionality like Instagram. Even if a good chunk of the Gucci followers aren’t old enough to buy the brand’s $4,000 purses, developing a relationship with these consumers at an early age is a stellar way to build brand loyalty and engage with a future customer base.
It’s certainly an option that Gucci could be using TikTok to build awareness (and generate even more headlines) while actually converting via Instagram, especially via targeted ads. Regardless, you can’t deny the fact that people are talking about Gucci—whatever it is that they do—and that mix of viral hits, word of mouth marketing, plus a bit of brand-crafted content to guide the narrative is a winning equation for TikTok success.