Luxury, it’s big business. In 2018, the top 10 luxury brands were worth a combined £100bn, whilst the aggregate net goods sales of the top 100 luxury brands topped an eye-watering £165bn.
Luxury is a long-term growth market. According to Bain, whose annual Luxury Study is now in its 17th year, the luxury market grew by 5% in 2018 and is set to achieve similar results this year. Bain expect the personal luxury good segment (clothing, jewellery, watches etc.) to grow by between 3% and 5% per year into 2025.
Which means that luxury goods – from Cannes-worthy superyachts to diamond-studded toe rings – are a booming business and will continue to be for some time to come. But for exclusive brands to stay relevant and carve a niche out from their competitors, their luxury brand marketing strategy will have to play a key part in their business strategy. Here’s how they should do it.
From brochure websites to ecommerce websites
It seems strange that in 2019 we should be talking about the ‘innovative’ power of the internet, but luxury marketing strategies have been slow to accommodate digital transformation. In 2017, ecommerce accounted for just 9% of luxury sales – hardly a dramatic rise from the 5% it garnered in 2014. Which means luxury retailers are committing the cardinal marketing sin of not being where their audiences are.
High-end brands that have been reliant on traditional marketing techniques – magazines and television in particular – should set aside an increasing amount of their luxury marketing budget to ensuring their digital experience matches their beautiful brand proposition. HNWI shoppers use the internet as much as any other demographic and do so for the same retail reasons as anyone else: to browse and to shop.
So if a luxury audience uses the internet in the same way as other audiences, it stands to reason that luxury brands should use the internet in the same way as other brands.
So, Patek Philippe, Rolex, dCS and all you glamorous others who don’t offer ecommerce to your clientele, you might want to rethink your strategy. Especially when you consider fashion powerhouse Gucci’s ecommerce sales rose by 86% in 2017, tapping into the growing millennial market, for whom shopping is as much – or more – about the digital experience as it is about bricks and mortar.
When it comes to luxury digital marketing, it’s not only the lack of ecommerce options available to their audiences, it’s the website itself. Too often, high-end retailers (as well as the shopping destinations for such brands) fail to live up to the expectations created by their print and TV ads.
Rolex’s website is a good example. Whilst it’s perfectly serviceable, its design is perfunctory, its inconsistent font choices look messy and its use of video is overkill, unrefined and outdated. Sorry about that, Rolex. But we’re only hard on you because your website doesn’t match your products – and as your audiences move increasingly online, the expectations of your digital experience will grow and you’ll have to match them.
The Dubai Mall is another example. Whilst not a retailer per se, it is a home of luxury retailers and should therefore reflect its high-end proposition. However, it falls flat with poorly spaced imagery, inelegant design, boring font choices and uninspiring copywriting.
Expensive items require a lot of buyer research and contemplation. Even UHNWIs/HNWIs don’t want to waste their money on the wrong product, and they’ll take a lot of time exploring the market and shortlisting options to ensure this doesn’t happen. That means a lot of time spent on luxury brands’ websites – and those companies that don’t deliver in terms of their online design, writing and user experience are undermining their other brand messaging and risk losing out to those competitors who are getting it right.
If luxury brands see ecommerce as a tool that cheapens their brand by making their products too available, they can overcome this problem by creating stunning websites that maintain exclusivity whilst making it easier for their audiences to shop with them. Instead, they’re living in a half-way house, maintaining an online presence yet clearly not spending sufficient resources on it to make it sufficiently beautiful, functional and profitable.
The thrill of the new
As touched upon earlier, shopping for expensive items requires research, which is time spent online, in-store, taking test drives, trying on clothes, visiting show homes, going on board £10,000,000 superyachts… Hey, it’s a hard life being rich.
To luxury brands, this spells opportunity. Everyday items and FMCGs have to convince people in finger-clickingly quick times to buy their products, backed up by ongoing branding and campaigns that make the in-store and online decision easy for the shopper.
But expensive products have a much bigger consideration window in which to attract, impress and convince people to purchase their products. And if they’re not using that window to showcase their products in exciting, interactive and new ways then they’re missing a trick.
Take Gucci’s Spring Summer 2018 campaign as an example, which reimagined the works of celebrated artists with characters dressed in the collection’s bold, inimitable style. Gucci shot a video in which the artist behind the creations, Ignasi Monreal, curates his ‘Gucci Gallery’, walking us through his artistic expressions, all of which were created digitally.
Crucially, this campaign was also stretched out into their stores via AR and VR installations, telling a consistent, inventive story in ways that gave them stand-out and involved the audience in meaningful, memorable ways.
Then there’s Tiffany, who changed pace in 2018 with their Covent Garden ‘Style Studio’. Known for their high-end elegance, Tiffany injected more fun into the mix whilst creating a fresher, more customer-focused experience, where visitors can buy fragrances from vending machines and get their jewellery personalised at their #MakeItTiffany bar. This was a clear nod towards attracting a younger audience
What Tiffany prove is that even luxury brands, which might have a reputation for stuffiness, can appeal in different, more modern and more timely ways.
From experiential luxury marketing that expands upon the brand experience, such as Chanel’s Coco Cafés, to beautifully crafted online adverts, such as Hennessy’s 4-minute masterpiece directed by Ridley Scott, finding new, inventive and downright gorgeous ways to interact with customers will be key in their future success.
Luxury brands often try and sell themselves as elegantly timeless entities, uninterested and unaffected by the whims of capricious fashion and societal trends. But in being sniffy or slapdash in their approach to their website, its ecommerce capabilities and how well it’s put together, luxury brands risk being left out in the cold by an audience that’s spending more and more of its time online.
Further, high-end retailers need to find innovative ways to sell their products and get their message out there in headline-stealing ways, whether that’s a short film directed by Hollywood royalty, perfume-dispensing vending machines or using digitally generated models in your latest fashion collection.
Want help with your luxury marketing? We work with a range of prestigious brands within property, yachting and home improvements, bringing their products and propositions to stunning digital life. Get in touch to see how we can do the same for you.