There is much to learn for all brand categories by looking at a new perspective.
A high-minded approach, elevated aesthetics, and an unwavering dedication to a carefully crafted brand ethos are no longer purely the domain of old-world heritage brands. The lines between luxury, prestige and mass have been altered by a number of factors, allowing brands of all kinds to successfully emulate luxury tactics. Chief among the learnings brands of all types can and should take from the realm of luxury is the development of an intense focus on the consumer. Many businesses attempt to sell purely through product attributes, and that’s fine if you’re selling a commodity. Brands who additionally communicate luxury-branding characteristics can more easily evoke the proper balance of rational and emotional cues in order to resonate with consumers, demand higher prices and earn loyalty.
1. A ROBUST TARGET AUDIENCE PROFILE IS INVALUABLE
Articulating a rich description of the target based on real people and research is the key to developing messaging that hits home with your audience. A careful balance of the rational and emotional elements that meet your consumer’s needs cannot be developed without the creation of an in-depth target profile. Through the creation of a strategic target persona, assumptions can be confirmed (if not formally tested) and brands begin to take shape. Along these same lines, it is crucial to consider both demographics and psychographics in crafting a functional target profile. Brands have to know their targets inside and out in order align themselves properly across numerous touchpoints.
2. GO BEYOND “JUST THE FACTS” – NOBODY WINS AMENITIES WARS
Focusing on the lifestyle benefits to consumers, rather than fatigue-inducing product attributes or amenities lists, is another luxury branding best practice that any and every brand can use to their benefit. While explaining technical details, unique offerings or different uses is certainly necessary, in the absence of a vastly superior product, articulating how those attributes come together to provide something special is what separates messaging from marketing. Luxury Automotive has been capitalizing on this understanding since at least the 1980’s. From Porsche’s, “Often Imitated but Never Duplicated,” and BMW’s, “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” to Cadillac’s, “Dare Greatly,” and Lincoln’s, “The Feeling Stays,” there is much to learn for other brand categories. Luxury car brands don’t run window stickers as ad creative. And they don’t just give the 0-60 times and MPG stats. They tell us how we’ll feel, how we’ll be viewed by others or what they’ll make us believe we can attain or have achieved. Focus on lifestyle benefits, not product attributes, and you’re well on your way to communicating at a higher level and captivating a sophisticated consumer.
3. PERSONAL CONNECTION, MADE POSSIBLE ON A MASS SCALE
The luxury industry has always been dedicated to connecting with consumers and addressing their needs. Now, brands of all types who execute successfully via social media can cultivate meaningful connections with consumers, even on a personal level. In the instant-access world of social, consumers and brands are on equal footing. Ritz Carlton Hotels exemplifies this with their 150K followers on Instagram. The account is almost entirely composed of guest photos as part of their #RCMemories campaign. Ritz Carlton virtually ensures a positive relationship and implies that anyone can have a memorable stay by collaborating with users (guests) to co-create its’ Instagram feed. The key takeaway? It’s all about your consumer, all the time, no matter whether you’re mass or luxury or somewhere in-between. Brands who properly balance rational and emotional elements, focus on lifestyle benefits versus amenities and connect authentically on social media can create for themselves the opportunity to be considered among the world’s elite brands, regardless of their category or market position.