As 2019 comes upon us, the new year is a great time to take a fresh look at your PR and marketing plans. One of the trickiest and most desirable sectors to reach is the luxury consumer. For perspective, I’ve gathered the advice of two entrepreneurs who are promoting their companies to this elite audience well.
Noel Shu is Managing Partner and Head Sommelier at Prodiguer brands. This company is known for creating the most expensive champagne ever: nearly $2 million per bottle, and they are poised to do it again. “Maurice Vendome, a rare Grand Cru Réserve Blanc de Blancs champagne, represents more than 100 years of combined experience, expertise and leadership from our team and the wine grower,” he says. Tradition holds that first impressions are the most important. According to Shu, however, “every impression is equally important. We consider it vital that our brand looks luxurious to the eye, feels appeasing to the touch and tastes exceptional to the palate.
On the other end of the spectrum, I approached Kevin Layton, CEO of an Inc 5000 digital marketing company, Data Dynamix. His company, which has continually reinvented itself to adapt to marketplace needs, achieved #1,226 on the 2015 Inc. 5000 with a 3-year growth rate of 343%. Here are the marketing strategies these executives have used to succeed (with no Madison Avenue agencies or agents involved):
- Use organic advertising to set a foundation. Prodiguer uses its own website and social media profiles (such as the Founder and CEO’s account on Instagram @ShammiShinh and Partner @TheBillionairesClub) to share luxury images and messages that reach a global audience, which leads to organic features in magazines online and print publications. (The moral here—images can be everything. Use them plentifully, and be sure the level and tone of the image is true to the tone and style of the brand.) In addition, they invite associated partners to write about their stories and experiences with the brand. This adds referred authority and spreads the brand message more efficiently to a broader audience than the company could reach on its own.
- To drive demand and interest from a high-end audience, don’t make your products easy to get. When people don’t have easy access, they desire an item more and will work harder to get it. Particularly in a luxury market, people aspire to acquire what they cannot easily have. Prodiguer often offers its product in limited edition bottles, such as its Juliet Immaculate Vodka, which it launched with Sue Tsai edition bottles. The company justifies its exclusivity by providing a bona fide luxury product. The limited and high-end packaging is coupled with a selective sales strategy that makes the customers the company selects feel special and increases the prestige of the product further as high end customers want to boost their own status by association with the brand.
- Transparency tightens the link. By highlighting production facts in their marketing, Prodiguer makes the company transparent, giving customers a better understanding of the company and the products. This generates genuine interest. In Prodiguer’s case, a part of this strategy includes keeping as many functions as possible in house. This highlights the company’s strengths and also shows the diversity and skill of the partners as a business that is a genuine boutique and based on tradition. The company manifests its transparency in social media by documenting its travel and events, bringing fans along by proxy into the company ethos and lifestyle.
- Sensory branding: go beyond visual. Shu explains, “Our founder, Shammi, wanted to make the customer experience unique. So each standard bottle of our champagne includes a pewter label that is a delight to touch.” While these features may seem simplistic, sensory branding is powerful for relating to customers on an emotional level. Brands that employ components such as touch and aroma in addition to rich visual image are poised to create a stronger emotional attachment in the customers they serve.
- Search is vital. Says Layton, an expert on tactics for marketing specific brands, “Shopping online for luxury products is no different than shopping for basic necessities except that it becomes much more fun. Successful marketing to people who buy luxury vacations, autos, houses and gadgets involves finding out more about them on many levels. Where do they hang out online? What are the experiences they value?” For example, when a high-end consumer dreams about a new Bentley or Audi, he or she will typically go online and start to read articles about the experience of others, to conduct searches about brands and features, and will likely even reinforce their initial desires by build their very own model from company’s site. SEO presence for the brand in the right level of articles and reviews is vital.
- Retarget with skill. If the brand is smart, when a customer visits their site, the company will drop a retargeting pixel onto the customer’s device while they are daydreaming about their new Continental convertible. This allows the brand to follow the customer with display and banner ads that remind them of the image and impulse as they surf away. The strategy of “Programmatic Ad Retargeting” is effective in any sector, but can be especially beneficial in reinforcing desire for a high-end luxury sale. The beautiful image of a high-end product is a helpful reminder of a product that simply “makes you feel good.”
- Leverage geo fencing for a physical store-front location. Companies with a physical storefront location can find high-end customer by “geo fencing” their demographic information. For example, if a particular Audi dealer has purchased geo fencing rights for a one mile radius from their location, when the prospective customer drives by, the company knows the demographic and income level and they know the prospective customer is nearby. So they send out a fitting mobile, video, or display offer to the nearby prospect along with their address.
- Accomplish email marketing with high-end finesse. Third party email is an effective way to reach the luxury buyer, Layton maintains. A great email company is able to obtain luxury lists from publications such as the Robb Report, Upscale Living Magazine or Travel and Leisure. The email you create should uphold the visual elements and prestige of your brand—while “squeeze page” tactics or “dirt bag marketing” might be numerically effective in closing a commodity sale, it will have no effectiveness here. By placing a pixel in the email, a luxury brand can follow a potential customer with retargeting ads to the prospective customer’s phone or desktop with an invitation for an offer such as a trunk show or a private viewing for a luxury clothing brand.
As you can see from these examples, luxury branding requires a higher level of discipline in its planning and execution than a volume or low-end commodity sale. The perceived value, of course, is what justifies the higher margin and price. With the right preparation, the rewards of luxury marketing are immense