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Keeping luxury luxurious

What is it that makes those Vuitton heels so much better than your average department store pair? The leather? Of course. Hand-stitched soles? Definitely. But there is something else about those heels that makes them rise above the mid-market brands – and that something is perception. Slip those suckers on, and instantly, I feel pretty. A pair of shoes just changed my state of mind.
How is that possible? It’s possible because an emotional response like that is exactly what luxury brands want, and it’s how they differentiate, not just in that moment, but over the course of many years. Luxury brands sell us on that differentiation through a consistent, careful, unwavering commitment to brand messaging. And, it’s the emotional connection they create that positions luxury brands for less of a hit during economic frailty and a quick recovery thereafter.

With a debt crisis looming, gas prices rising and many companies still feeling a little shaky after the last two years, how do luxury brands cheerfully bounce back so quickly? Well, for one, they don’t change – at least not at the core of their brand identities.
Here are a few of the ways luxury brands ride out good times and bad, the grunge years (gross!) and the “austerity” measures of today:

  • Simple messages: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts ads exemplify the power of a simple message: “When Life Feels Perfect.” It taps into the emotional connection, sets the foundation for your own perfect experience and delivers the brand message of warm, intuitive service. Across the board, luxury brands keep it simple, personal and emotional.
  • Know your audience: There’s only one audience for luxury marketers and that is the top percent of wealth – no matter that one-third of luxury goods are purchased by the aspirational shopper. It’s the wealthy who stabilize this industry during tough times and they must stay engaged in the brand equity.
  • Consistency: The first objective of any new luxury marketing campaign is to reinforce the brand ethos. If the campaign doesn’t reflect the core brand, it’s not going to happen. Saying no to an exciting partnership or denying access to an interested publication is a tough, and awkward, call to make, but if it’s not on par with the brand, you risk derailing the message. Luxury marketers know this and they stay the course and agree to only the best opportunities and the right partners.
  • Personalized service: Some may say brick-and-mortar stores are a thing of the past, but personal contact is not something a luxury brand takes lightly. Even when exploring digital marketing, the digital experience must relate back to the core brand. If that app doesn’t have the same “inside circle” feel of the store, it’s not worth the risk.

From ad campaigns, right down to the glossy, ribbon-handled shopping bags, the luxury brand is steadfast and focused on the customer experience and creating that emotional connection. Then, it’s up to its marketing, ad and public relations teams to tell that story. Strutting down the street in $900 heels, oozing glamour like the latest magazine ad and carrying a silky soft leather handbag, I feel pretty. Oh, so pretty! Can your brand do that?

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