LUXURY BRANDING IN A “LOW” TIME

Posted by Steve Kleber on Apr 10, 2008

 

Despite some popular beliefs amid the barrage of negative media reports, the luxury housing market remains strong. The majority of today’s high-end consumers aren’t in danger of losing their homes. In fact, luxury homes, and the products installed in them, continue to buck the bleak housing trend. The wealthy are relatively unaffected by the housing slump as they remain unscathed from sub-prime mortgage issues and interest rate fluctuations. In Manhattan, for example, the housing recession shows few signs of plaguing the city’s elite.

From a similar perspective, a recent article in Business Week  reported that today’s well-known luxury brands are experiencing steady growth. Some of the most popular luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan and Gucci, all reported 2007 sales increases and expect the 2008 market for luxury goods to continue to surpass historic global growth trends.

Despite a sunny outlook, continuous negative media reports surrounding the condition of the U.S. economy and overall housing market, have today’s luxury consumers putting away their credit cards. This calls for adaptive marketing tactics to boost consumer confidence.

In my last blog, I discussed the idea of ‘perceived’ versus ‘real’ value. With the nervous condition of today’s luxury consumers, focusing on ‘real’ value is more important than ever in the high-end market. This makes for all the more reason to appeal to consumers’ emotional side.

Below are some key marketing tactics essential to maintaining a luxury brand in today’s state of affairs.
 
– Relevant emotional connections –
The key word here is relevant. Design ads with the consumers’ emotional and lifestyle aspirations at the forefront. Tell a story that resonates with your target audience. Advertising isn’t just crucial to enhanced brand awareness, but also allows consumers to connect with your product on a higher, more personal level.

– Evolve the brand –
The luxury brands that have succeeded for decades are constantly re-inventing themselves. (Burberry, Cadillac, Tiffany, Channel, etc.) To appeal to luxury consumers, it’s not just about creating a price point or clever brand name, but instead, you must fit into consumers’ ever-evolving lifestyles. High-end consumers will pay a premium for any number of product benefits. Remember, it’s all about appealing to their expansive lifestyle views that allows the product and brand to adapt to change and style preferences of your audience. Again, relevance here is key.

– Know what makes consumers buy –
Price/value relationship, product and brand reputation, and store/dealer reputation are essential in creating and maintaining a luxury brand. Additionally, word-of-mouth (especially of those within one’s social circle), articles and reviews in magazines and newspapers, advertisements, the Internet and the overall impression will be key influencers.

– Develop a strong brand relationship with consumers –
Consumers must feel connected to the brand itself. A generic prescription drug may work better than a known name brand, but if it’s relatively unknown throughout the marketplace, consumers will purchase one that remains fresh in their mind and one they may have a pre-established relationship with. Having a consumer connection via customer testimonials, strong media reviews, compelling advertisements, and a well-designed and user-friendly Web site, will enhance the relationship among the brand and the luxury consumers its targeting.

– Balance performance and the way the product makes the consumer expience luxury –
Every consumer ‘experiences luxury’ differently. There must be equilibrium between uniqueness and exclusivity. The bulk of luxury consumers do not buy a product because others don’t have it or can’t afford it. They buy it because of the way it makes them feel–special and unique. Even if a product has a wealth of performance peaks, it must convey a customizable experience that connects with the consumer in order to sell. For example, a high-performance kitchen faucet may create the feeling of being a professional chef while preparing a family meal. A luxury steam shower may create the feeling of basking in one’s own personal sanctuary or create an intersection with holistic healing. Whatever the story, the brand must tell it.

– Luxury brands stand strong –
This fact remains. Despite the negative reports, there is a large luxury consumer base in which to tap. Today’s nervous consumers need to feel a “new comfort” connection with their luxury brands. The most important aspect of marketing to today’s luxury consumers is to keep their emotions at the forefront of all marketing and branding initiatives.

Looking for more tips on luxury branding? Email me at sk@kleberandassociates.com.

This entry was posted by Steve Kleber on Thursday, April 10th, 2008 at 10:13 am and is filed under Advertising, Brand Management, Home Building & Design, Housing Market, Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.