Luxury and upscale brands have been resisting digital transformation for the longest time, longer than any other segment of the market, but today it seems that the process is nearing its completion, and even the most conservative of them now realize that if they want to retain their status in the new environment, they have to change as well. According to McKinsey’s 2014 report, in 2013 only 13 percent of luxury sales have been generated by digital interactions and another 28 percent were influenced by them. Another, more recent, report states that by 2018 nearly 80 percent of luxury sales are digitally influenced.
It is understandable why luxury brands may be wary of moving online – they thrive on exclusivity and personal interactions with clients. However, with traditional advertising methods bringing fewer and fewer results, they have no choice but to do it – and in this article, we will discuss some of the ways to use digital marketing effectively.
1. Use visually-oriented social media
It is more important for luxury goods than for any other products to evoke emotions in the customer, to make them feel what you want them to feel. Shopping for luxury products, whether you are interested in Swiss Rado watches or upscale apparel, is a very visual experience. Unsurprisingly, one of the most effective ways to capitalize on both these aspects is to use visual social media, most importantly Pinterest and Instagram. They will help you not just to show how your products look but to increase brand awareness and create brand advocates as well. For example, Chanel is one of the most “pinned” brands on Pinterest, but it doesn’t even have its own account – it is all the result of its advocates’ work.
2. Optimize your strategy for mobile
According to the study by Forrester Research Inc.:
- 51 percent of luxury shoppers expect stores to have mobile-optimized sites;
- 49 percent expect brands to have mobile apps;
- 43 percent expect to be able to buy through a site or an app.
All this signifies that luxury shoppers are more mobile than ever, and you should take it into account. Your website should use responsive design. If your marketing approach includes inviting clients to a physical location (many luxury shoppers still tend to make their purchases in person), make sure this location is easy to find and well integrated with your digital messaging.
3. Develop a native app
A mobile-optimized website is good, but luxury shoppers more and more often expect brands to offer more in-depth experiences, which can only be achieved by means of native mobile apps. Compared to websites, they offer a number of advantages:
- They don’t depend on Internet connection;
- They offer greater variety in terms of content and functionality;
- They offer many options that are impossible to implement otherwise (e.g., VR/AR).
4. Don’t sacrifice usability and functionality in favor of design
Many luxury brands believe themselves to be too special and exclusive for common digital marketing rules to apply to them. As a result, they create websites that are often stylish, full of high-quality imagery and effects and look, well, luxurious. At the same time, they take ages to load even on a broadband connection (let alone using the mobile Internet), are hard to navigate and unintuitive to use.
However, there are other ways to make your website look high-class without compromising user experience. According to a study by ConversionXL, the following features are commonly associated with an impression of prestige:
- Using a minimal number of colors;
- Using subdued colors;
- Displaying only a few products per page;
- Using as much whitespace as possible;
- Using typography that reflects the nature of the brand;
- Never using stock photos;
- Avoiding other types of clutter (e.g., banners and popups).
5. Create status-defining content
The main reason why people talk about things and share information via social media is because they want others to associate them with the traits these things represent. For example, charity pages are among the most liked on Facebook. But it is a fair bet to assume that a huge percentage of those who like them do this not because they actively take part in charity and are interested in these organizations, but because being charitable is praised by society, and it is an easy way to appear charitable.
The main reason why people buy luxury products is not because they are genuinely better (although some may believe so), but because they want to make a statement of status. Therefore, if you regularly create and publish high-quality content associated with luxury lifestyle, you will motivate your current and potential clients to share it to express their status and style.
6. Data, AI and personalization
Luxury brands have always been proud of their ability to interact with each customer individually. In brick-and-mortar stores, each visitor gets personalized attention from a salesperson, they are often offered additional small things such as coffee, and the entire process of purchase is one-on-one interaction. This approach isn’t easy to duplicate in online stores, but technology gradually gives us such an opportunity. Application of data gathering along with AI and machine learning will allow you to create personalized customer profiles for each client and better understand what they want, expect and need in the long run.
7. Use influencer marketing carefully
Influencer marketing has a significant influence on spreading brand awareness, but businesses still have a hard time figuring out the best way to use this strategy. While many better-known influencers have already become important authorities in their niches and brands in their own right, when luxury brands work with them, they often risk devaluing their own brands, like it happened with Dior’s Saddlebag campaign. While it was effective in spreading awareness about the relaunch of the famous design, many believed that simultaneously gifting it to a hundred influencers had a mass-market feel to it.
Luxury brands can no longer ignore digital aspects of their marketing strategies if they want to stay relevant – but doing so comes with its own set of challenges and difficulties to look out for.