If you walked into Bloomingdale’s with an unlimited amount of money to spend on a new bag, what would you buy?
Balenciaga, Chloé… or would you head to Alexander McQueen? What is it that convinces a person to splash all their cash on one designer item?
Sure, we’ve been told for years that luxury goods are made with a superior level of craftsmanship, but what is it that makes us strive toward that classic quilted Chanel beauty?
Last year, global media agency Mindshare North America (part of WPP), released some very interesting research, exploring various types of luxury consumers and how exactly to drive forward as a luxury brand in the industry.
Head of Insights Mark Potts noted that “The definition and perceptions around luxury have changed a great deal over the years and brands need to understand the nuances to succeed”.
But what exactly does this mean for designer brands?
Well, since there’s more than one type of ‘luxury consumer’, there’s a number of different approaches you’ll need to take, in terms of marketing your brand.
So, whether you’re a marketing guru at an established brand or a founder of a luxury start-up, here’s what you need to know about the future of luxury, and how to market to the various demographics that make up your high-end consumers.
SELL AND COMMUNICATE THE ‘DREAM LIFESTYLE’
For many a shopper, it’s all about the aspirations that a brand represents. When making purchases, certain types of consumers are influenced heavily by that of social media influencers and celebrities on TV shows. Speed is essential to the average shopper nowadays – they might see Kylie Jenner with a Chanel purse one day, and you bet they’ll want to be wearing it the week after.
So, you aren’t as wealthy as Kylie Jenner, and you certainly can’t keep up with the Kardashians (unless you’re watching them on TV that is), but if you own the same bag as Kylie Jenner, you’re doing something right… right?
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For many, that’s what counts. Brands like Chanel, Dior and Louis Vuitton aren’t accessible for just anyone, and that’s exactly what their selling point is. As a high-end luxury brand, you aren’t just selling a product, but a dream, and who doesn’t want to live the dream?
WHICH LEADS US ON TO THE TRICKY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LUXURY BRANDS AND HAVING AN ONLINE PRESENCE.
The very accessible world of social media almost goes against everything that the high-end designer world stands for. Luxury brands are obviously a little more dubious about how and what they share on social media, because let’s face it, nothing says exclusive, like staying silent.
Take Chanel – the fashion powerhouse famously abstain from delving completely into the world of eCommerce by only selling limited products such as eyewear and beauty on their website, in order to protect the exclusive nature of its pieces.
Highlighting their level of exclusivity goes in further when it comes to their Instagram page. Chanel only follows back its own Chanel Beauty brand, disregarding its millions of followers. Although this works well to represent the brand’s aloof image, note that social media is an important tool for luxury brands that actually want to deepen consumer engagement.
For a brand as renowned and loved as Chanel though? This isn’t a priority and it’s not hard to see why they don’t need to adhere to the status quo.
BE A SHEPHERD, NOT A SHEEP
A heavy demographic toward younger consumers with 46% falling into the 18-34 age bracket, many luxury consumers use designer goods as a way of ‘setting themselves apart’. It’s all about setting trends and being the first to do it.
Take Gucci for example. Someone has now decided in the crazy headquarters of the Italian household name that dirty sneakers are a good look. No, seriously… They are genuinely selling sneakers with an ‘all over distressed effect’ for $1,175, and journalists, stylists and fashion followers across the world are totally torn.
But, if a fashion editor from Vogue likes them then they must be the cutting edge of fashion. After all, no one understands ‘fash-un’ like an editor from Vogue.
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For these kinds of shoppers, otherwise known as ‘trendsetters’, you’ll need to make it clear to them that your brand is what will provide them with the edge. If no one else is doing dirty sneakers, then you’re setting a trend, right?
It’s all about standing out from the crowd before anyone else does, so if you are using influencers or celebrities within your marketing strategy, make sure you choose them carefully. Not all influencers are of an equal status, so choose those that align with your company values and creative vision.
Unusual partnerships work incredibly well too – predictable is old news. One of the most successful collaborations is the Louis Vuitton and Supreme collab (to die for), which sold out in eight pop-ups worldwide faster than you can say Vogue. For these kinds of high-end consumers, it’s all about creating extraordinary experiences that warrant ‘shareable’ content worth envying.
NOBODY PUTS THE BOOMERS IN THE CORNER
Millennials. The now and the future. Deloitte noted that a huge 99 million millennials are shaping the luxury landscape, in comparison to 77 million boomers. Sure, millennials are the ones following trends as they scroll through Dior’s Instagram feed and click like on the latest pair of sneakers, but it’s the baby-boomers that still make up a substantial segment of the luxury landscape – and they’re the ones with the dollars in the bank.
Our point? Don’t focus all of your marketing efforts solely on millennials (or just dressing millennials at awards seasons)…Louis Vuitton and Dior, we’re looking at you! If your older consumers don’t feel like their loyalty as a customer is wanted or needed, they’ll move on. Instead, brands must learn to broaden their customer strategies to include this group of consumers, because if they don’t, they’ll lose out. It’s worth noting that boomers are becoming more digitally active too.
Whilst more millennials shop online, boomers are more inclined to splash the cash in-store. To engage with older customers, put a focus on creating and marketing the perfect in-store experience, positioning you ahead of any other brand.
HIGHLIGHT THE CRAFTSMANSHIP & VALUES OF YOUR BRAND & PRODUCTS
If someone’s going to spend the big bucks on your product, it’s important that you highlight the superior level of design and craftsmanship that goes into every single one of your collections.
Many justify spending money on luxury goods because the quality of the products is unbeatable. It’s all about crafting products through the eyes of an artist. With many millennials admitting that they feel that huge luxury brands have lost their personal and exclusive feel, they’re choosing to buy lesser known brands. Since they enjoy taking risks with their purchases, there are a few ways marketers can reel consumers in, and prove to them their products are worth the buy.
Use opportunities to open up to consumers by allowing them to see behind the scenes, product development journeys, or even showcase designers or creative directors’ personal opinions on worldwide topics. Take Stella McCartney for example, with 5.8 million followers, McCartney is one of the most powerful designers on Instagram, showcasing her very green concepts through video, imagery and the occasional selfie with her fellow celeb alumni.
So… what now?
Marketers within the designer landscape need to take the changes in consumer requests seriously, when it comes to the world of luxury.
With a wide range of different types of consumers to appeal to, brand managers must learn to truly find their tone of voice and their target demographic if they want to successfully market their brand, and make sales.
The common denominator though? Exclusivity, in various shapes and forms. Once you focus on this, you’ll continue to make your consumers feel valued, every step of the way. Speak to Impress!ve™ to nail your eCommerce strategy and find out how we’ve already helped these brands go global.