By Amish Dargan
Luxury brands have always been associated with status, quality and their uniqueness. However, changes in consumer behaviour and influence of the western societies have altered the definition of luxury to a great extent. ‘New luxury’ is synonymous to aspirations and experience.
Marketers realize that designing a luxury experience is a completely different proposition, counterintuitive to the managerial principles of mass marketing.
So where traditional management principles fail to flatter, how do luxury brands market to their consumers?
Strategies to market luxury brands
1. Sensory Branding: British Airways is encashing big on a recent study on sensory sciences by Oxford about how sound influences the taste of food. Based on the findings of this study, they launched a list of 13 in-flight tracks to enhance the taste of the meals served during the flight, providing a truly luxurious experience.
Soundwich in Portugal is another fine example of sensory branding. They deliver gourmet sandwiches packed in metal boxes that play music chosen by the chef when opened.
2. Storytelling: Rolex has completely nailed the art of storytelling. Each masterpiece on their website is associated with a celebrity and the reason why they own it. The brand establishes a clear connect between the owner and the product; at the same time endorsing it as one for the elite.
Brands like Chanel have often been quoted as perfect examples of storytelling too. The brand walks its visitors through ‘Inside Chanel’, where different artistic directors share their vision about the brand.
3. Advocating Beliefs: More than brand values, luxury marketers must spin their strategies to advocate beliefs through their marketing efforts. Consider the example of Ferrari. The brand believes in high-performance and advocates the same by investing in Formula 1 events.
Similarly, Louis Vuitton demonstrated its belief in ‘practicality’ by starting to produce only square-bottomed suitcases that are easy to stack. They also completely did away with the round-shaped bags.
4. Exclusivity: There is nothing better than the ‘just-for-me’ feeling that a consumer can get from a brand. Most luxury brands believe in giving the consumer just what he desires, irrespective of how much it adds to the price tag.
Le Labo perfumes, for example, are crafted for an unmatched, personalized experience. No two Le Labo perfumes are the same as each perfume is hand-blended according to the specifications placed by the consumer.
Talking of exclusivity, let’s not miss out on the Absolut Vodka. The brand has done a great job of designing four million unique bottles that are an absolute delight to own.
5. Customer Taste over need: Luxury marketing is different from regular marketing in the sense that you don’t pander to customer’s needs. The product or the marketing strategy are not made to fill any void that may exist due to individuals needing a certain product, but are focussed on high-brow taste, indulgence or affluence.
Your brand does not have to stand on a pedestal where everybody likes it. It only needs to be conditioned to suit very specific tastes. Sell excitement, not predictability.
Unlike a rational consumer, luxury consumers are tremendously impacted and motivated by the feeling of self-worth. They take pride in ‘owning’ a brand and associating it with self-identity and social comparison.
Of course, this is one piece of a much bigger puzzle. For every brand that requires an extra push, there needs to be an analytical report or metric that ensures the success of promoting the brand in this manner. But for all the marketing strategies, such as search engine optimization, press release distribution, social media marketing, business are pushing to get their product onto the next level, that feeling of exclusivity is a lot to do with how comfortable a customer feels with a brand.
Though quality and social status are still considered to be major buying motivations for the luxury consumer, experience too has become a vital factor for purchase. The strategies and examples given above show how some famous brands differentiate on the basis of experience, to market to the high-end consumer.
Have you seen another luxury marketing strategy that is worth mentioning here? Would love to know more about it too – Feel free to comment below.
Amish Dargan is a luxury branding specialist based out of Toronto. Connect with him on LinkedIn.