Digital marketing has transformed the promotional strategies of all types of businesses, especially top brands. When it comes to marketing, luxury brands face distinct challenges. With an affluent and sophisticated audience, it’s essential to communicate clearly and deliver the best possible user experience. Simply put, your customers have many options and if your approach doesn’t fit into their lifestyle, it might be overlooked. Let’s look at some of the most effective digital marketing tactics for luxury brands and examine a few cases of companies that have gotten it just right.
Who Are Today’s Luxury Consumers?
The first rule for any type of marketing is knowing your customer. To target your audience, you want to know as much about them as possible. The stereotype of luxury consumers being mostly older white professionals has rapidly changed. Luxury consumers are more diverse than ever before, including people of all ages in all parts of the world.
It turns out that Asia is one of the fastest growing markets for luxury items. China is the most obvious example, as an increasingly affluent population is now hungry for everything from luxury cars to high-end travel. Southeast Asia is another important region in this regard, with 3.5 million high-net-worth people with plenty of cash to spare. Whether targeting luxury consumers in Asian or Western markets, it’s important to understand the unique characteristics of each region.
In the digital age, commerce is global so there’s nothing to stop, say, an American or European company from going after Asian markets. The French luxury brand Christian Dior, for example, made inroads in China by launching effective digital campaigns on the Chinese social media platform WeChat.
These distinctions aren’t only relevant in Asia, of course. The point is to adopt a seamless user experience built for the needs and desires of that particular audience. Let’s look at one audience that luxury brands are increasingly targeting in the digital age.
Millennials are Shopping for Luxury Products
Millennial shoppers are another important demographic for luxury items. It’s essential to realize that this is the generation that grew up in the digital world. Members of this generation are immersed in social media. Millennials tend to value speed, convenience, and innovation over traditional measures of status. For example, many millennials choose to use ride-sharing services such as Uber rather than owning cars. A related trend is that many younger people are abandoning suburbs and returning to cities, where car ownership is less necessary. This seemingly poses a challenge to car brands who want to target this demographic. However, this insight helps the luxury car company to narrow down their potential buyer personas in a more precise way, allowing them to be more specific in their marketing efforts.
Several luxury automakers, including Bentley and Audi, are finding success with millennial customers. Audi, whose customers have traditionally been middle-aged, has consciously gone after a more youthful market with social media campaigns, focusing especially on youth-centered platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram. Loren Angelo, the director of Audi marketing in the U.S. told ABC News, “We’ve seen a 23 percent increase in millennials coming to the brand in the past two years.” A large part of these marketing techniques focus on targeting users through social influencers. These influencers act as a bridge between the brand and demographic, creating a new relationship and stronger connection to the luxury brand.
Luxury fashion is another area where brands are striving to reach millennial customers. Companies such as Versace, Gucci, and Ives Saint Laurent are all doing well with this demographic. Versace has been especially successful in this area, reaching a higher percentage of millennial customers than any other luxury brand. By featuring popular celebrities, creating engaging videos and placing hip and appealing images on their Facebook page and other social media sites, this brand has created the kind of user experience that appeals to a young audience.
User Experience Principles for Luxury Brands
As noted, user experience principles aren’t the same for everyone. However, there are certain principles that apply across the board for luxury brands. Here are some high-level ones:
1. A seamless experience
Luxury consumers today are active on many social media platforms and they are especially active on mobile devices. As Mckinsey reports, 75 percent of luxury consumers use multiple mobile devices. This means that luxury brands must offer a convenient and appealing experience for mobile users. It’s also important to conduct seamless campaigns that flow from one platform to another. For example, a customer might very well look at your images on Instagram, check out your Facebook page, watch a video on YouTube before reaching your website and buying your product. So it’s important to have a compelling and consistent branding strategies across multiple platforms.
While attention spans and patience are shrinking everywhere, luxury consumers, in particular, don’t tolerate slow-loading web pages, confusing menus, and glitchy online shopping carts. If you want to capture this market, make sure that the buying process is easy and convenient. All features must be mobile-friendly as well.
3. Integrating online and offline experiences
In addition to integrating various digital strategies (e.g. website, social media, email), it’s also important to realize that luxury consumers often combine digital and traditional shopping. This is more true of certain products than others, of course. Someone planning to buy a car, for example, is likely to do lots of research online before stopping in an auto dealership. In this case, the auto company needs an appealing website that also motivates the visitor to come in for a test drive. This is true for many types of luxury items. According to McKinsey, only 4 percent of luxury sales are online while 40 percent of luxury purchases were influenced in some way by digital media. Hospitality is another industry where it helps to move seamlessly between online and offline. Websites for high-end hotels, for example, can create a positive UX by making it easy for customers to join and make use of loyalty programs. One company that excels at providing customers with a great experience both online and offline is Marriott, which offers three loyalty programs to accommodate different types of travelers. Loyal customers can use reward points to buy VIP experiences such as concert tickets, meetings with celebrities and culinary events. Thus, customers can easily arrange in-person experiences using digital technology.
4. Emphasizing lifestyle
Luxury items have always been at least as much about style, image, and intangibles as about the actual quality of the product. This is truer today than ever before. It’s no longer enough for today’s high-end consumers to simply own the biggest or best of everything. In a world that’s inundated with marketing and stuff, they want to experience a more refined way of life. Promoting a philosophy of self-actualization is just as relevant as pointing out the features and benefits of your product.
Another crucial component of luxury branding, which overlaps with the above point about lifestyle, is telling compelling stories. Burberry excels at this, with its social media campaigns and creative videos that incorporate history, fashion, and the appeal of a glamorous lifestyle. Whether you’re selling fashion, cars, travel experiences, or luxury properties, stories capture consumers’ imaginations and make them want to enter your story.
These are some of the components of effective digital marketing for luxury brands. By implementing convenient user experiences, effective storytelling, and seamless campaigns across multiple platforms, top brands can only look to expand in the digital age. When these digital marketing techniques are done correctly, luxury brands will maintain their prestige in the traditional sense, while expanding into new markets and demographics.
By: Frank DePino
Frank DePino is Principal and Founder of Mediaboom. Since 2002, Frank has led Mediaboom’s award-winning staff of creative and technical professionals building the most effective marketing and advertising solutions for its clients.