The Truth on… Digital Marketing for Luxury Brands

Burberry broke ground with its Art of the Trench campaign in 2009 proving that there was a place for luxury brands in the digital landscape. But most luxury brands have been slow to take up the call and get in on all that digital has to offer them.

Why so slow?

Part of the reason stems from the same business and technical issues many companies face. Existing websites may not be flexible enough to create new brand experiences. And it’s often expensive and time consuming to redesign an entire website or develop a rich mobile presence.

Another reason comes from the belief that luxury brands rely on an air of exclusivity, which puts them in conflict with the open freedom of the Internet. But as the Art of the Trench demonstrated, luxury brands can engage and collaborate with consumers, while still communicating the dream.

Digital can drive desire.

When it’s done right, digital can drive consumer desire, which is at the heart of marketing luxury goods. It can allow consumers to engage with brands when and how they want, tell a story that enhances the luster of the brand and add key touch points to the consumer journey.

Consumer behavior is shifting.

That special in-store experience will always be important, but busy luxury consumers often want it on their own terms. They may not have the time or desire to go to a store. Even consumers who prefer personal attention will look to their laptops, phones and tablets before they make the trip.

And while baby boomers are still the largest group of luxury consumers, generation X and Y are growing strong—and changing the rules of the game. Younger consumers demand digital innovation. By giving them experiences that meet their expectations, luxury brands can build valuable relationships that last a lifetime.

Brand story is everything.

All luxury companies have gorgeous models and fabulous images that convey the aspirational nature of their brands. But this also makes them blend together in the eyes of consumers. Luxury brands need to look to their unique brand story and shout it from the rooftops to stand out.

However, many brands lack a clear understanding of who they are and what makes them different. And that’s a shame, because luxury brands typically have beautiful stories that can be spun from, for instance, their heritage, values, artistry or position as a tastemaker. It’s all about how you pull it together.

By first clarifying their brand and story, luxury companies can then develop strategies to connect with consumers on an emotional level. And as the Art of the Trench demonstrates, these campaigns can be rooted in a brand’s tradition, but still be riveting to a young audience.

Understand the journey.

Not every consumer follows the same journey. Some build gradually to purchase by visiting stores, browsing online, speaking to friends, etc. Others make quick decisions. They see it, they like it and they buy it. And some fluctuate back and forth between these modes.

Whatever the journey, luxury brands need to be there at every point. And they need to be there with a seamless brand message and experience fitting for the medium. For example, tablets are built to feature rich content, like videos and 360-degree product angles, and consumers expect it.

To understand the journey, luxury brands should take a step back and ask themselves:

    • • How are consumers making purchasing decisions?
    • • What are the emotional drivers?
    • • Where are they getting information?
    • • Are we reaching them at these points?
    • • Are we offering the best experience possible in each of them?

Burberry seems to have asked and answered these questions successfully. And they continue to push the bounds of digital with live-streamed catwalk shows and creative campaigns, like Burberry Kisses.

Is your luxury brand ready to step up?