In the world of marketing consumer packaged goods (CPG), one principle reigns supreme, “the consumer is always right,” but in the world of luxury marketing, does that basic tenet stand as truth?
As marketers, we’ve been taught that consumer insight is what dictates approach, and we see some of the largest CPG brands very visibly adhering to this basic principle. But when it comes to luxury goods, are we selling the product itself or something else?
In looking at how luxury is advertised to the consumer, there is a vast difference that is noticeably apparent. Luxury brands are not selling a handbag, perfume, or label-ridden bocce ball set; they are selling a hope, dream and an aspirational lifestyle that is attached to that product. Take Chanel’s ads for perfume for example: Rarely is the product the spotlight of the advertisement. The focus is more on storytelling, creating intrigue into the life of WHO the Chanel No.5 wearer is – she’s glamourous, beautiful and living a captivating life. This could be you!
Having worked with several luxury brands throughout the years, it became apparent that the vigor of qualifying advertising approach did not apply within the luxury segment. Instead of “what does the consumer want,” luxury approach is more of a “what can we tell the consumer to want?”
Beyond TELLING the consumer what to want, of equal importance in luxury is the HOW part. Consumers of luxury goods often don’t see endorsement the same way. A big, splashy television spot doesn’t always resonate with the luxury consumer. Often, product purchase is driven through external endorsements that are not as obvious. Some examples include:
- Editorial endorsement – reading about the good or service in a magazine like Vogue, Elle or Vanity Fair
- Influencer endorsement – seeing a favorite fashionista incorporating that fabulous accessory into her wardrobe on Instagram
- Word of mouth endorsement – an approach that remains equally as important as many of today’s most exclusive brands are successful not because of advertising, but because of their “cult” status
- Strategic partnerships – also a method that can carry a brand a long way. Looking at how you want your brand to be perceived and partnering with a like-minded business is a great tool for propelling each other forward
So, while the rules of marketing might not always apply to the luxury segment, it does force us as marketing and communication professionals to get creative. While consumers of luxury goods may have the disposable income to easily indulge in a good or service, it’s our job to MAKE them want to make that purchase.
When you get into your car today, think about why you might have purchased those expensive sunglasses, or why that Tiffany key chain is dangling from your ignition. Did you buy those Tom Ford’s solely to shield your eyes from the sun?
What drives you to buy luxury goods? Let us know by tweeting @DEVENEYNola using the #DEVChat hashtag.