The Secrets Behind the Marketing Success of Luxury Brands

Hanly Heubeck

Successful luxury brands entice their buyers through emotional experiences and resonating with target audiences.   This results in consumers buying their products simply because their name or logo appears.

Many have ‘that friend’ who only buys a particular shoe brand and is always wearing the latest trends.  The majority of the time, the purchase is lavish and often based on an emotional desire rather than a real need.

Successful luxury brands entice their buyers through emotional experiences and resonating with target audiences.   This results in consumers buying their products simply because their name or logo appears. Emotion is king when these purchases are made, even during an economic downturn.

When the recession was taking a heavy toll on consumers in 2011, the luxury market experienced a 10% increase in growth. Several luxury companies, such as Tiffany & Co. and the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Group, reported a nearly 20% increase in sales that year. How does this make any logical sense? Personal luxury goods are hardly a necessity, yet they have managed to not only stay afloat but thrive during challenging economic times.

So, what tactics do luxury brands use to result in high sales for high-ticket items, regardless of practical need or financial status?

The key is to elevate the product beyond a commodity and create a brand experience that elicits a powerful emotional connection with the core target audience. Here are the four tactics that brands should follow to create strong brand ambassadors.

1) Compelling Brand Story 

A powerful and emotional story is an essential component to creating a strong connection with consumers. Many luxury brands have an extraordinary heritage and legacy that helps create a greater emotional connection between consumers and the brand. Having a legendary founder or character associated with the company strengthens its legitimacy and authenticity – helping bring the brand experience to life.

Coco Chanel, one of fashion’s most iconic figures, is seen by many as the embodiment of French elegance and grace. Elements of her persona are seen in Chanel’s marketing efforts, and she has come to represent the essence of sophistication, beauty and style. Whether it’s a historic or new luxury brand, the brand story must invoke a sense of distinction and superiority.

2) Power of Exclusivity
Having something that others can’t easily access or acquire is the epitome of luxury. Luxury brands can enhance this feeling of exclusivity in several ways, such as hosting private trunk shows, making certain products available for a limited time, or distributing the product to select retailers. Luxury brands that decide to mass-produce or over-distribute products to gain profit in the short-term often tarnish their brand of exclusivity and, ultimately, see a bottom-line decline.

In the late 1990s, Burberry experienced significant backlash and low sales when it took the brand mainstream and made its products significantly more accessible. After refocusing its strategy and minimizing distribution, it has been able to regain its position as a prestigious luxury brand. Burberry’s experience demonstrates that positioning luxury products as something that only the elite can access and afford makes the product and experience much more desirable.

3) Timeless Classics
Luxury brands consistently produce products which can withstand the test of changing trends. The pieces are timeless; classic in every sense. As buying habits have slowly shifted to more online transactions, the competition is fierce. Consumers are more discerning than ever, looking for staple, iconic pieces.

The transition to online purchasing has resulted in a more strategic and targeted online marketing approach. Luxury brands are thoughtful in their approach in order to maintain the exclusivity factor, which has differentiated them for decades, highlighting the pieces which will forever remain a classic. They have also embraced the customer journey and found ways to create a luxury experience at every touch point – from the online experience, to the fast shipping to high-end packaging and follow up communications – there are many ways to create  a luxury experience through  a customer’s journey online.

4) Clout Reinforcement
Building trust through third-party credibility is important in creating and maintaining a strong brand reputation. Nordstrom has integrated influencer marketing into its overall marketing communications strategy to utilize third-party clout and spark desire for products, which helps to create buzz and conversation among consumers. The incredible success of the annual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale speaks to the power of influencer marketing tactics.

Called the “Super Bowl for the fashion world” by AdWeek, the yearly Sale accrues worldwide interest, so much so that the Nordstrom site crashed during last year’s Anniversary Sale. Influencers with millions of followers partner with Nordstrom, using their personal social platforms to generate excitement surrounding the Sale, showcase articles of clothing and highlight beauty products. Nordstrom strategically utilizes the power of exclusivity by allowing early access to its Icon and Club Members a full week before the official launch of the Sale. Every day throughout the three-week Sale, influencers intentionally showcase select pieces that followers can then purchase through direct links at the sale price.

Remaining Contemporary
Marketing tactics have significantly changed throughout the decades, and yet luxury brands have been able to maintain their strong brand position and demand. They are considerate in their approach and every move they make is consistent with their brand positioning. Cutting-edge digital marketing tactics, influencer marketing and social media platforms are strategically utilized to further build the brand connection through visual appeal, meeting their target audience where they are and creating a luxury experience in the digital world. So, the question is:

What story are you telling? Is it creating a strong, emotional connection with your target audience? And if so, are your marketing tactics effectively reaching your audience where they are and building brand loyalty?