3 Ways to Market Luxury Products via Mass Appeal
Marketing luxury products and services online brings with it it’s own set of challenges. While part of luxury’s value proposition is the exclusivity it offers, that exclusivity doesn’t always align well with the inclusive nature of the modern online ecosystem.
I mean, sure, social media and SEO allow us to identify and target users based on their interests, purchasing intent, and other demographics like never before. But when you want to engage these users by being relatable, the very exclusivity of your luxury offering can end up hindering your efforts and limiting the reach of your campaign.
This, however, hasn’t stopped some luxury brands from devising ways to leverage the attention of those who can’t afford their products to help market them. Indeed, when it comes to marketing luxury products/services online, there seems to be three different approaches to including audiences that can help spread your message but are otherwise excluded from your target market.
1. Online Contests
Sweepstakes, game shows (e.g. The Price is Right), and just about every other type of contest are generations-old tactics for generating both brand awareness and consumer demand. Indeed, the appeal of being able to win any given commodity (from the ‘practical’ to the ‘luxury’) has been an effective way of engaging consumers since long before Vint Cerf even thought of helping to pioneer the internet.
So, of course, luxury retailers have found ways of tapping into this channel as the web (is that even a term, anymore?) continues to evolve. After all, one of the best ways to leverage the social graph of a demographic that would otherwise be outside your target demographic is to give its members an opportunity to consume/partake in a product they couldn’t otherwise afford.
Consider how Lexus Canada is a currently running a contest where any member of the Canadian public can enter to win one of their latest models. While the contest is sure to attract entrants that are well outside their target demographic, it’s also sure to attract countless auto-enthusiasts who are likely to seed their entry throughout the feeds of similarly minded auto-enthusiast friends in their network. The result, then, won’t just be increased awareness of the model in question, but also with auto enthusiasts who are well within Lexus’s target demographic.
The point is that contests can be an effective way of democratizing an otherwise exclusive (i.e. luxury) product. And when you make your product accessible or relatable to consumers/users writ large, you not only secure mass-market awareness but ensure that just about every potential customer will catch wind of it.
2. Value-Added Content
Of course, online contests are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to product marketing online. Indeed, to a certain extent, they’re a bit of a throwback to so-called ‘traditional’ marketing or adaptation thereof to a new ecosystem.
Indeed, when it comes to the more avant-garde of digital marketing toolsets, value-added content is at the forefront of online product marketing — luxury or otherwise.
But what do we mean by ‘value-added’ content marketing? Well, simply put: producing (and promoting) the kind of the content that helps (potential) customers overcome the challenges and solve the problems that are somehow related to your product.
In other words, you don’t just spit out advertorials that demonstrate how your product can improve consumer’s (i.e. readers) quality of life in some way or another. Rather, you show them that you understand the challenges that they face (as potential customers), and help to navigate through them. And in doing so, users tend to not only identify your brand as trustworthy, etc. but consider you (and your products) an authority in the field.
Now, this approach is particularly common with so-called revolutionary (think Kickstarter) or cost-saving (think travel deals) products. But luxury brands have also tapped into it with some notable success.
Consider Luxury Retreats (disclosure: former client). A few years ago, they launched the Luxury Retreats Magazine, which features everything from luxury destination profiles to travel tips that can appeal to any traveler trying to figure out where to eat, shop, and play in any given destination.
The result is that they cannot only reach new audiences and raise awareness of their core offering, but they also produce the kind of content that any travel enthusiast will readily engage with and share. As their editor, Jenny Cahill-Jones puts it:
We work with writers who are traveling all the time to get up-to-date, authentic information and a local’s perspective.
So the idea isn’t just to feature their luxury offering, but to produce the kind of value-added travel content that will appeal to any of traveler, who is likely to share it with other travel enthusiasts — and by proxy, push their brand and product offering out to new audiences.
3. Branded Micro-Content
Value-added content aside, many luxury brands have also had some incredible success pushing outright branded content. Indeed, where many middle-of-the-road brands face challenges pushing their overtly branded content (i.e. because it can seem overly promotional), luxury brands enjoy the advantage that the very exclusivity of their products/services make their branded content particularly shareable because it’s so inherently sensational or gratuitous.
Just consider Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Mercedes-Benz, and the like on Instagram. These brands have generated an unprecedented degree of engagement not because they are accessible, but because they are not. Essentially, users follow them and like and share their content because it reflects a lifestyle and ideal that they can aspire to.
In other words, users love their branded micro-content because what it portrays is beyond their reach.
So while many of those users engaging with their content are not their target demographic, their branded micro-content campaigns are successful because those users want to be part of that demographic. And as a result, those users continue to bolster their brand identity and awareness (via shares and like) and keep them “top-of-mind” for those other users in their network who are the target market that these brands are trying to reach.
Exclusivity via Inclusivity
The online space has been disrupting industries since it first emerged. From retail to publishing, we’ve seen countless juggernauts fold, and so many Davids slay so many Goliaths.
And while marketers were quicker than most to embrace these new (digital) opportunities, luxury marketers have been the most surprising because they (to a degree) defied the logic of online marketing.
While so many other brands struggled to embrace this new, democratized, inclusive medium, luxury brands had to find a way to tap into that ethos while still championing their exclusivity. What their example has shown us, however, is that exclusivity, itself, can be inclusive, if only because we all desire and strive for (on some level) some degree of prestige — and we’re ready to engage with the very ideals that we might not actually be able to reach.