Be it because we crave the alluring touch of that Chanel bag, or the appeal of owning that Marc Jacobs wallet – the world’s love affair with designer products is a timeless one. And even when we find ourselves not quite in the financial position to splosh out a few thousand bucks on a designer item, we do it anyway. So what makes us throw caution to the wind and take the leap? What is it about luxury markets that compels us such a deep level?
For years, experts have expressed that high-end industries – be it couture fashion or luxury cars – have nailed the marketing game. Though they’re great at flaunting all those incredible high-quality details about their pieces, their success also comes down to creating the perfect perception around their product.
However, the market has shifted significantly in recent times, with consumers becoming more financially conscious and aware of their spending habits. So what’s the winning combination for high-end brands looking to market in the modern age?
Behind the science of spending big
conducted by The California Institute of Technology (Caltech), in collaboration with Standard University scholars, conclusions found that people often rate the same product higher if they're told it costs more.
In this specific case, researchers pooled several individuals together and had them taste one wine, and measured their brain activity via an MRI scan as they were drinking it. When they tried the second wine and were told it was “far more expensive” than the first, their brain activity significantly increased.
IMAGE: The pillars of a luxury item. This is what creates the desire behind a high-end product.
What does this tell us? Ultimately, it proves that we generally associate the feeling of consuming or enjoying more expensive products as more invigorating, thrilling or exciting. Which could be exactly why the high-end, luxury markets still thrive so well. Brands that are able to tap into this kind of thinking are the ones that succeed the most. And it takes a whole lot of research, insights and behaviour monitoring to understand exactly how to do that…
Selling the ‘dream’ lifestyle
If you’re an Instagram user, you’ve seen it before: the dashing lad with 1.7 million followers and a Lamborghini in tow. You find yourself wanting to be like him – you want to experience the lifestyle he is living. Which is completely normal. But his 1.7 million followers are chasing him around for a reason; he’s sold the dream lifestyle effectively.
The same goes for the likes of legacy labels like Chanel or Gucci. These iconic brands have established such a ground-breaking image, that no one could toss it aside if they tried to. They’ve worked hard at selling the aspirations that represent, and their influencers are able to perfectly portray that in their online activities, too.
Fashion icon Mariano Di Vaio shows off his luxury allure.
These days, for high-end industry players to really preach their product to the choir, they need to create an image that’s unbearable to ignore. It has to be irrevocably alluring, and a lot of that success often comes down to using the right ‘people’ in your campaign.
It’s no longer about having a killer website and hoping the troves of shoppers come streaming in. These kinds of brands are utilising the likes of Kim Kardashian or Kylie Jenner to generate excitement about living the high life – something they’re portraying as attainable if you invest in one of their products.
And it works.
IMAGE: Kyle Jenner flaunts her luxury vehicles on Instagram.
Take the unbeaten path and create unique products
Though it’s tempting to just sit down and replicate exactly what these luxury labels are doing online, like all marketing efforts, it won’t work for everyone. There’s no such thing as a cookie cutter approach (if you’re
looking for digital marketing
success), so you need to carefully approach it from a way that’s unique to who
as a brand – not who Kylie Jenner is.
The biggest step to creating a unique position in your high-end market is to get to something first. While it takes innovation, a majority of brands are able to grasp their success by being the first to try out that tactic or interaction. This is where it all comes back down to the actual product you’re selling. If you’re authoritative enough to do it, they
sell, but there’s also a fine line of creating something that still solves your customer base's problems and life challenges.
Consider the fact that
Prada launched its own paper clip in 2017
. We’re not even joking. You can buy a sterling silver Prada paper clip for $185 USD. But in essence, it’s still just a paper clip...nothing more. And the reactions from Twitter kind of tell the rest of the story about how that went down for the legendary brand.
$185 for a paperclip? This thing better be able to hold my life together..
The ironic thing is that these were made to hold money, but consumers were quick to blast the brand for creating something that would leak them of any cash that the clip was intended to hold.
So where does the balance sit?
Although replicating the efforts of other high-end brands won’t 100% grant you success (it will give you some exposure, though), crafting pointless, poorly researched products won’t do it either.
Creating a high-end, appealing brand image comes down to selling the dream lifestyle but also being able to still solve customers’ problems at the end of the day; not create them.
Never underestimate your demographics
If you’re a Baby Boomer or Gen X, it’s likely you’ve had a few harsh words to say about Gen Y. Which is understandable – at times – but this demographic is the most powerful target audience you can possibly get. In fact, in the luxury space,
millennials account for about 85%
of the industry’s growth. Splurging out more dosh on Louis Vutton and Gucci than any other top-tier brand, these labels are reaping the benefits of targeting a younger crowd.
But they don’t come without their challenges. For instance, millennials aren’t known to be the most loyal folk to labels, especially when the marketing doesn’t quite hit the mark. If it’s loyalty that you want, Gen X are next in line for granting your brand success. Why? This demographic has actually officially been labelled as the most loyal followers.
And it gets better. Recently, Noah Elkin, a principal mobile analyst at eMarketer, said targeting Gen X is highly beneficial for brands looking for audiences who have the financial stability.
So what does that all mean? Mostly that you should think carefully about your target audience, and while Instagram may make it tempting for you to target the millennial population and their obsession with technology, it pays to not place all your eggs in one basket. Older generations typically have the financial security and freedom to splurge out on designer items, so selling the dream lifestyle to these audiences is just as crucial.
Where to from here?
All of these points will help you to better understand the kind of position you’re in when it comes to the luxury market. However, combining the sense of innovation (appropriately, of course) with careful target consumer research, will always get you further than your competitors.
In a world where everyone is fighting to be ‘different’, be the exception – but don’t be the Prada paper clip.
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