Digital Marketing for Luxury Brands: Strategies & Trends

Marketing

Digital marketing is an ever-evolving industry. Consumer habits change; industries rely heavily on precarious market forecasts and trends, and business decisions now revolve around data in order to minimize risk.

Combine those factors with the innovation of day-to-day business operations as well as the transforming way with which consumers interact with a product, and digital marketing is, understandably, constantly adapting.

The same goes for luxury brands.

In the last decade, luxury brands have been hesitant to change – and for good reason. Marketing efforts seemed to work, and customers are usually already in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. This means that these customers know what they want, where they want to buy, and how much the price tag is. Having a clearly defined demographic for your product or service means allocating fewer resources to figure out what your target market is. However, times are changing.

One variable which has been left unaccounted for, and brought about by the ever-changing landscape of business, is influence. In the digital age, where people are becoming more and more connected, marketing has evolved into more than just getting a company’s message out. It’s now about pulling your consumers in.

This has never been a problem for luxury brands. For the most part, luxury brands have banked on their bubble of exclusivity. In the past, most luxury brands have relied heavily on traditional marketing campaigns to raise brand awareness. This means absurd amounts of spending on TV, radio, and print advertisements. Now that the landscape is becoming digitized, luxury brands are following suit.

A 2018 study by McKinsey found that luxury brands are now paying close attention to the importance of digital marketing and listening to what customers are currently engaged in. In the same study, online sales of personal luxury goods (accessories, apparel, beauty products, perfume, footwear, and leather goods) account for 8% of the global luxury market with nearly 80% of the total luxury sales being influenced online. In the era of social media, email, and influencers, relevance is now more important than reach.

So how should luxury brands adjust? Should marketing efforts be entirely digitized? Or should efforts be incremental to better measure results? Unfortunately, the answers aren’t so simple.

But first… what exactly is digital marketing?

Digital marketing refers to a business’s online marketing efforts. According to HubSpot, businesses utilize digital marketing as a tool to interact and nurture a connection with current and prospective customers. From community management on various social media platforms to personalized email marketing campaigns, digital marketing provides businesses with a more targeted approach to better cater to the needs of its client base.

Digital marketing, regardless of budget, presents businesses with multiple channels to attract the interest of potential customers. In doing so, businesses will be able to create custom-made campaigns that consumers value. With online luxury sales projected to triple by 2025 (i.e. nearly one-fifth of personal luxury sales taking place online), digital marketing is a huge force which has become difficult to ignore.

Luxury shopping in the digital age

Whether you’re developing a digital marketing strategy from the ground-up or revamping your luxury brands’ existing efforts, here are a few things you need to know.

Knowing your market

Luxury brands have been known to target high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) and ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI). Both demographics represent a highly defined and specific audience. In a 2016 study by PwC, 98% of the world’s wealthy have been found to use the internet and access mobile applications daily. In addition, 85% of HNWIs have been found to possess three or more digital devices. But what exactly does this mean for luxury brands?

This means that consumers for luxury brands are evolving. More and more, they are using the internet across multiple devices, which means that luxury brands now have multiple channels to target when marketing for their products and services.

In addition, accounting and professional services giant, Deloitte, found in its 2019 report that fast-changing trends have prompted luxury companies to keep an eye on new consumer classes brought about by the digital age. Among these new consumer classes, high-earners-not-rich-yets (HENRYs) have been projected to be the wealthiest members of society.

Understanding your target audience is essential for the success of your digital marketing campaign as it gives you a peek into your customer’s online behaviour as well as their spending habits. Knowing where your customers shop, what types of content they read, and which kinds of marketing efforts they respond to are all essential to developing your luxury brand’s digital marketing strategy.

Gather, interpret, and analyze your data

After researching your market, the next step is to collect accurate and relevant data. Nowadays, data has become the bread and butter of any type of business. With the right amount of accurate data, luxury brands will be able to develop personalized approaches for a more seamless buyer experience.

Deloitte has also highlighted that consumer demand has become the core focus of businesses and, because of that, companies are becoming more and more reliant on other digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data.

Companies Boost AI Spending - image: Deloitte)

Companies Boost AI Spending – (image: Deloitte)

With AI and Big Data, companies are able to personalize customer engagement through the analysis of data. Luxury brands, known to be big spenders in mass marketing efforts, are now slowly realizing the importance of engagement as opposed to reach.

Data from past and existing digital marketing campaigns will help your luxury brand identify the factors that contribute to lower response rates and allow you to adjust your efforts accordingly.

Goals determine your future

After gathering as much data as you can, what’s next? Before developing your digital marketing strategy for your luxury brand, you must first consider what you want to achieve. Your marketing goals define the future of your luxury brand.

Are you a startup offering luxury products and services? Your primary goal is to build awareness.

Are you an established business in one locale and thinking of expanding to a new market? Your primary goal is to capture market share.

Are you experiencing a high volume of traffic on your website and social sites that are not translating into sales? Your primary goal is to improve your conversion rates.

All marketing efforts should align with what your luxury brand is trying to achieve. Setting clear objectives is key to any successful marketing campaign. Specific, relevant, and measurable goals will allow your company to develop cost-effective and highly targeted digital marketing campaigns.

Tell your company’s story

Telling your luxury brand’s story creates a connection with your current and potential customers. Usually, when telling your company’s story, you don’t just talk about how your company started, you also talk about what sets your product or service apart from other luxury brands. In this way, you create an easily digestible brand experience for your customers while also highlighting your unique selling proposition (USP).

The role of digital marketing is to convert leads that interact with your brand through various marketing channels and efforts. High conversion rates mean business growth. But how do you encourage existing and potential customers to interact with your brand?

This is where content marketing comes in.

Content marketing is a strategic approach focused on developing and distributing relevant content to your clientele. Content, however, can mean a lot of things. Content could be a social media post, a website landing page, or an article posted on your company’s blog. Most luxury brands focus on exclusivity and may find it difficult to connect with a broader audience. Content marketing can help luxury brands tell a story the consumer can connect with and reach targeted demographics in a more efficient manner.

Content Marketing

Market knowledge and customer behaviour data give your luxury brand a birds-eye view on what types of content your existing and potential clients would like to see or read. Familiarize yourself with basic search engine optimization (SEO) principles as well as key performance indicators (KPIs) to better measure results and keep objectives front and centre in the decision-making process.

Try, try, and try again

After understanding your market, gathering relevant data, setting goals, and establishing your brand story, it’s time to come up with a marketing plan. What are the things you should consider?

● Website Design

Promoting your product is as important as having a website. Having a strong online presence is crucial for every business in order to attract new clients and remain competitive. However, having a website is not enough. You need to make sure that your website has the necessary keywords you are targeting, loads quickly, and is optimized to be accessed on multiple devices. You should also consider user experience and user interface.

● Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO allows your luxury brand’s website to gain an audience through organic traffic. It’s not about quantity – SEO is about targeting quality leads that may, at one point, purchase a product or a service through your website. This is particularly applicable to luxury brands as the customer demographic is more clearly defined.

Efficient SEO takes a lot of effort but having an organic strategy will help boost your ROI. Proper SEO involves SEO-friendly content, quality backlinks, keyword research and analysis, as well as frequent website audits and web-page maintenance.

● Social Media Platforms

Social media has been such a driving force in today’s market. The visual aspect of social media platforms is something that luxury brands should take advantage of to raise awareness and engagement within their online communities. For instance, Chanel has attracted numerous brand advocates after becoming one of the most “pinned” brands on Pinterest.

Chanel's Brand Building through Digital Marketing

Chanel built a unique and impactful brand through digital marketing (image: Chanel)

The beauty of social media being part of your digital marketing strategy is that your reach is virtually endless. It’s now about finding quality leads that are prepared to buy your product or service.

● Email Marketing

Don’t let the recent technological advances fool you… email still works. Email is probably one of the most intimate and effective marketing strategies out there. Through email, you would be able to connect with high-quality leads and existing customers, thus increasing the probability of conversion and/or sales. Also, email can be used to keep your customers up to date with the latest product launches as well as the latest news about your luxury brand.

Marketing strategies for luxury brands vary much like in any other industry. A one-size-fits-all approach is simply non-existent. Devoting time, early on, to determine which types of marketing efforts work for your luxury company and which ones don’t will help you save time, effort, and resources when coming up with marketing campaigns.

This will also allow your company to better target your marketing efforts and ensure better customer engagement.

Sources:
https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/luxury-in-the-age-of-digital-darwinism
https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/what-is-digital-marketing
https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/luxury-in-the-age-of-digital-darwinism
https://www.pwc.com/sg/en/publications/assets/wealth-20-sink-or-swim-gx.pdf
https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/ar/Documents/Consumer_and_Industrial_Products/Global-Powers-of-Luxury-Goods-abril-2019.pdf
https://www.scmp.com/magazines/style/news-trends/article/3008756/gucci-dior-how-luxury-brands-cleverly-use-social-media