“Luxury lives in the finer details. It’s a cloth napkin at a dinner table. It’s a mint on your pillow before bed.” – Iggy Azalea, rapper, singer, model and millennial
It was last year when a 2014 Hermès Birkin set a record auction price of $380,000 in Hong Kong. The iconic handbag boasted 18-karat gold and 10 carats of diamonds. And, though not the luxury item the average woman can afford, many might understand the appeal to the buyer.
Business Insider named handbags among the “15 things everyone should splurge on that will last a lifetime.” And, while many buy a luxury handbag for its longevity, another article uncovers deeper emotional needs for consumers. It says, “For most women their handbag is a multi-tasking device that combines the virtues of practicality and utility: along with showing off personal taste, it suggests a certain economic prosperity and acts as a soupcon of the childhood security blanket.” So, a luxury handbag is a smart investment, providing durability and functionality. Yet, it also provides a glimpse of who its carrier is or wants to be, while boosting their confidence. A Psychology Today article tells these psychological factors – these emotional needs – drive the appeal of luxury for consumers. The problem for brands has become they’re no longer in charge of their luxury status. Instead, the standards for luxury are now set by consumers. And, their standards are ever-changing. But, in the same innovative spirit that initially propelled them to premier status, luxury brands are rising to the challenge, their luxury marketing strategy considerate of all the details.
For 2018, luxury brands make up the top-performing category among global brands, with 42% growth. This is according to a new report from brand consultancy Interbrand. It says luxury brands are “so successful” due to “their ability to anticipate and respond to” evolving cultural trends. Yet, they do so without compromising their brand. They do so “while retaining their authenticity and a level of exclusivity” to become “more desirable to more consumers.”
That’s right; more consumers want brands with luxury status. And, Interbrand says their desires are driving “premiumization.” This means brands in other categories are raising prices but incorporating perks, such as enhanced service. In turn, this creates more competition for luxury brands, left to prove their value. Take luxury handbag brand, Coach, for example.
This past August, retail research and consulting agency, GlobalData Retail, announced the brand’s return to “full health.” This is following “ubiquity and excessive discounting.” Coach’s president attributes the comeback to their in-store experience and marketing efforts that improved “premium” consumers’ and millennials’ views of the brand. One major initiative was its “Life Coach” pop-up shop in NYC, where the company’s roots lie. The activation showcased its home city, as well as its history and culture, with fun activities, such as graffiti in the subway and arcade games at Coney Island. If its targeted consumers had any questions about Coach’s relevancy, they walked away with a better understanding of the iconic, yet fresh brand. The immersive experience minded the details, making experiential marketing the best luxury marketing strategy.
Experiential campaigns help luxury brands and all brands stand out and show how they’re rising to meet cultural trends. They can do so while being authentic and creating exclusivity to not only be understood, but desired. And, interesting enough, it’s the age-old characteristics of luxury brands that often provide the foundation for the best experiential campaigns.
The most successful luxury brands will comprise the following attributes. They will also use one or more as bases for their experiential campaigns in their quests to win consumers.
A main reason consumers are willing to pay top dollar for luxury brand offerings is their perceived high quality. This may be in the materials used or the craftsmanship employed. But, it’s often what sets luxury brands apart from their competitors and why many will use experiential campaigns to tout these benefits. This was the case for scotch whisky brand, The Macallan, which flew select participants by helicopter to a luxury campsite in New York. There, they traveled to a nearby forest to learn about the making of their casks from the trees. It’s these casks, they say, that give their products their quality taste. And, the intimate experience gave observers an authentic look at the brands and its offerings.
An Adweek article claims, “The finest brands in luxury are born from the finest experiences.” This is not only in customer service, but in their luxury marketing strategy. That’s why it also says the best luxury marketing is in “immersive experiences,” like Coach’s pop-up shop, that surprise and delight consumers. The goal of these experiences is “not to sell but rather to educate and inspire.” And, this is what Ralph Lauren set out to do in celebration of 50 years in business. The fashion brand, once revered as a luxury brand, is out to regain its status. So, it hosted an immersive experience in New York City’s Central Park for 500 guests and anyone who wanted to follow along on social media.
The night was broken into three acts. The first used LED technology to project holograms that gave guests a glimpse at the brand’s iconic history. Lauren himself narrated. The second act served as a runway show, showing how the brand is delivering new fashions that meet the needs of both genders of all sizes and ages. And, the third included a dinner that showed the brand’s strengths in other areas. The scene of the brand’s popular Paris restaurant was recreated. The food and drink of NYC’s The Polo Bar was served. In short, it was a “fine” experience with no detail spared.
Luxury status used to center around maintaining an air of exclusivity. Yet, with more consumers wanting the premium products and service of luxury brands, among other factors, it’s difficult to not be inclusive. Instead, the focus should be on executing a positive brand experience for the consumers at hand. To do so, they must incorporate personalization, which can tip either side of the scale.
For luxury goods company, Dior, a personal experience meant offering limited-edition products in its pop-up shop at London’s Harrods department store. The brand further personalized the experience by offering embroidery for its Dior Book Tote. But, for luxury car brand, BMW, perks helped them get personal with current customers at the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship this summer. Limited chances to win a round of golf or walk inside the spectator ropes during the final round were available to BMW owners. Even if the odds didn’t play out in their favor, they were still treated as golf royalty. This was with their own parking, concierge, and seating within the BMW pavilion – an air-conditioned area with food and drinks overlooking the 17th hole. For entry, they only needed to show their car key, acting as a golden ticket to the premier experience of the renowned golf tournament.
The people you choose to embody your brand’s luxury status have much weight on your success. Let our team provide you with premier event staff to deliver on your plan’s finest details.