The rise of digital marketing has had a radical effect on how all brands engage with their customers. One industry it has affected most is Luxury Brands, which face challenges of how to communicate with their audiences without destroying the grandeur of their brand.
Today, the premise of what it means to be a Luxury product has dramatically shifted. Historically, luxury was a sign of prosperity, power and social status – it was a matter of seeing and being seen. The products themselves were symbolic of a focus on craftsmanship, exclusivity, and uniqueness. Today, in the digital age where people are more active participants with global reach, these values fail to align. The challenge that Luxury Brands are facing is how do they take advantage of digital technology without compromising their Luxury status?
Many equate the rise of the Internet as the demise of Luxury Brands. Having to compete in a market saturated by fast-fashion, the quality and prestige that once existed in luxury products no longer exists. Caroline Weber in her 2007 book The Devil Sells Prada says that before the rise of the Internet, “Luxury Brands were guarantors of value and integrity, they are now markers that point toward nothing, guiding the consumer on a road to nowhere.”
However, much of the demise in the lustre of luxury brands isn’t a result of the Internet – it’s a result of the luxury brands either slowly or incorrectly using it. The Internet has provided luxury brands to amplify their luxury status more than ever before. Perhaps the most significant of these is one-to-one personalization. Jana Scholze, co-curator of What Is Luxury? – an exhibit showcasing modern day luxury at the V&A Museum in London last year – stressed the necessity of making products personalised to consumers; “we all have a relationship to luxury… it is something personal which provides pleasure outside of daily routine”. With digital marketing, a brand’s user experience can create a personal experience even before the first purchase. This is something that luxury brands have always aspired to, but could not successfully achieve prior to the Internet.
In the past few years, a number of luxury brands have demonstrated huge success in adopting well thought out, personalized digital marketing strategies. A leader in the digital game, Burberry have been championing digital for a number years. Among their luxury brand peers, they were early-adopters in employing user-generated content such as their Art of the Trench social media campaign in 2009. In the following years, they were also among the first to test new social media platforms and features such as Instagram video ads, and Twitter buy buttons. Reaching out to customers on a personal level through these platforms has proved well for the brand, having reported sales of £2.5bn, an 11 percent rise on the year before.
So how can other luxury brands follow in the footsteps of brands like Burberry? Luxury brands can use digital marketing in four stages:
- Create a seamless path from inspiration to purchase
Luxury retailers like Net-a-Porter merge content and commerce, as well as digital and physical touchpoints, to create an innovative purchase path. They understand that the contemporary consumer demands a strong ubiquitous approach where service, experience, and products interact.
- Make your brand narrative attainable, intuitive and immersive
Modern luxury is about conveying a lifestyle. Burberry’s ability to combine a strong brand narrative with technology has become their signature. Along the whole customer experience, Burberry makes their brand attainable by creating a ‘no purchase necessary’ buy in entry at every touch and price point.
- Evoke the feeling of belonging and being special in your customer
Luxury consumers gravitate toward brands that have a strong brand identity; with convincing beliefs and compelling values. Louis Vuitton conveys their unique passion and sophistication by contracting artists for limited edition pieces.
4. Serve and reward
With a wealth of consumer data at their fingertips, luxury brands can reward their customers via personalised offers based on their individual browsing and buying history.
Image Credit: Dana Thomas, 2007