Double Trouble: Forget what you know about luxury marketing

Double Trouble is a co-blog of sorts, where Kate Edwards, managing director for Kontented, and Dan Pankraz, head of strategy, Asia-Pacific for Iris Worldwide, tackle a topic between them.

 

Kate Edwards, Kontented, Fostered & Intersection

I am part of a majority. I was lucky enough to grow up in a broadly middle-class white-bread household where we took generic no-name paracetamol, washed with cheap 20-pack soap (“It all comes from the same factory, honey”), reheated leftovers and had ‘picky dinner’ (read: whatever was in the cupboard that you could make yourself without the supervision of adults) on Friday nights.

My parents both worked six days a week, and this afforded me, yes generic, grooming and chemist products. It also meant I had a Kuta Lines jumper and some Oakley Frogskins – the two single coolest products a teenager growing up in The Shire could yearn for.

What does this have to do with luxury marketing? EVERYTHING!

Marketing, by its very nature, is the art of both communicating and convincing a human to ‘want’ something so badly it feels like a ‘need’. Trust me, I needed the jumper and the sunnies – my very social standing at high school depended on it!

As an adult professional woman I am now grateful to own a designer handbag, watch and luxury car. None one of which I need, but all of it I want and it helps to define to others at least the perception of my lot in life.

This is luxury marketing at its core. These are the three things I’d challenge you to ask as a luxury marketer:

  • Who does your consumer want to be?
  • how does your consumer want to be perceived? and
  • how can your brand deliver on these things ?

 

Recently and exquisitely, my favourite luxury brand, Chanel redefined these three questions for their own market at a show in Paris for the AW14 collection launch. Creative director Carl Lagerfeld literally transformed his catwalk show into a Chanel supermarket. Yes, you heard me – a meat and potatoes grocery store – but ask yourself as a ‘clever communicator of needs’, why does this work so beautifully for a heritage luxury brand?

The Chanel-branded shopping ‘baskets’ were adorned with the brand’s famous chains, as seen on their luxury handbags. Models pushed trolleys around the ‘supermarket’ as they perused eight aisles of individually Chanel-branded food – haute Ketchup, eau de Chanel and Jambon Cambon, named after the location of Chanel’s original signature store.

Why it works is simple: it makes the teenage Kate, the 20’s Kate and now the 30’s Kate, position this expensive haute couture fashion brand into my everyday existence. It places me directly into the experience – one I have had, and to be honest, hate – grocery shopping sucks. It’s a chore, but to undertake said task looking like a glamazon in a $100,000 outfit, great hair, heels and being generally fabulous… now that I can do.

The line between want and need in luxury terms is forever blurred and the take out for marketers is that high brow is now not just accessible, but available within the very fabric of the every day.

Move over Kuta Lines jumper, I hear Carl calling.

 

Demonstrations of discernment rather than badges of bling

Dan Pankraz, head of strategy, Asia-Pacific, Iris Worldwide

How do you be exclusive, sell the dream, retain the magic and mystique, craft the message in an area of transparency, open access and democratic sharing? These are the fundamental issues facing luxury marketers today.

The next generation of younger multi-channel luxury consumers are rising in influence, seeking demonstrations of discernment rather than badges of bling. Luxury is no longer about outward displays of wealth, it’s a state of mind, with self-fulfilment trumping traditional status symbols. Here are my emerging codes of luxury marketing worth thinking about:

1. Provocation over poise

While superlative storytelling has always been the bread and butter to create desire for luxury goods, brands now need to look to new more provocative brand archetype to cut through and engage. Jaguar’s latest ‘Villains’ #GoodToBeBad campaign has successfully positioned Jaguar as an alternative antihero in a stuffy luxury car world.

2. Timely beats timeless

Luxury brands need to think about how they are offering cultural value in real time. Thomas Pink in the UK recently launched its ’90 minute service delivery in London’ to fix dressing woes.

3. Making exclusive inclusive

More than ever, people want to help craft the narrative of a luxury brand. Brands need to think about hey they involve people in interactive stories at all stages of the product and marketing process. Burberry’s famous ‘Art of the Trench’ project and Mont Blanc’s ‘Beauty of a Second’ are best practice here.

4. Living is more than owning

The era of experiential luxury means status and social currency is derived through engaging in unique and rare experiences often powered my immersive technology. Innovative examples include the Mercedes Benz Travel program in China and our Johnnie Walker Blue Label Gallery .

5. Personalisation over conformity

Luxury consumers are craving hyper personalisation at every touch point, so luxury brands need to think about how their products and experiences are delivering more personal moments for people.

 

So luxury marketers need to tear up the traditional marketing toolkit, cleverly leveraging the myriad of digital channels and tools at their disposal to demonstrate discernment rather than blast them with bling.