Luxury brand marketing is a fine art: detailed targeting, engaging language and stunning images entice some of the world’s most demanding clientele towards purchasing high-value goods. The audience – high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals – is used to the best of the best, meaning that any advertising aimed that way must be extremely well-thought-through and high-quality.
The luxury industry, which includes goods such as high-end cars, fashion, watches and travel, was worth a staggering €281bn in 2019, according to a report released in September by the Statista Research Department. And while the Coronavirus has undoubtedly dented this upward curve, the luxury industry is one that is expected to bounce back relatively quickly.
So how have luxury businesses achieved such success, and which luxury brand marketing strategies have worked to keep brands such as Gucci, Aston Martin and Cartier at the top of their games? Have some marketing ideas worked better for one particular luxury segment than they have for another, or is there a general rule of thumb across the entire industry?
Here we take a look at four sectors that I specialise in – automotive, watches, fashion and travel – to see which has the most innovative marketing ideas.
Luxury brand marketing for the automotive industry
While marketing strategies for the automotive sector have typically been rather traditional, luxury car brands are leading the way in creating innovative strategies to reach and inspire their unique audience.
Marketeers for luxury car brands know that they are asking consumers to make a very important financial commitment, so they tend to focus on branding that triggers an emotional attachment to the vehicle. They want to emphasise how the client feels when they drive the car and may use luxury influencers or high-net-worth personalities to convince their audience that the car in question meets their calibre.
A good example of this influencer marketing is a digital campaign for the new Mercedes-Benz all-electric SUV, which features Grammy award-winning singer The Weeknd. Mercedes-Benz’s marketing strategy has typically been centred on the safety and precision engineering of its cars, but this campaign sees the brand focus more on the fun-loving side of its personality, with a younger target market of motorists aged between 25 and 45.
One truly innovative marketing idea favoured by automotive companies is brand partnerships, which allow luxury car manufacturers to offer unique and exciting experiences to their clients that they wouldn’t have been able to provide alone. Take Aston Martin as an example. The British luxury brand’s partnership with Red Bull has given it access to Formula One, through which it is able to offer on-track experiences to its prospective client base.
At Relevance, we worked with a prestigious luxury car brand on an exciting digital campaign to support the brand’s social media activity for the 2020 Geneva International Motor Show, where the brand would launch its latest one-off series of cars. The motor show was ultimately cancelled due to Covid-19, but this only made our digital work with them more vital. We supported the brand by shooting 360° videos and providing an immersive online experience for customers and fans, ultimately delivering great results.
Watch and wristwear marketing
Haute horlogerie is an industry steeped in history, tradition and exclusivity, and as such has understandably taken slightly longer than other luxury industries to embrace digital marketing. However, large full-page adverts in publications such as fashion magazines are now often complemented by newer, more innovative marketing ideas such as influencer marketing strategy and e-commerce.
Cartier was the first luxury watch brand to advertise on WeChat via an influencer in 2016, and this bold new strategy saw its WeChat Moments campaign, starring Taiwanese actor Zhang Zhen, receive more than 6m views. Cartier also invited Chinese celebrity Luhan to present its Juste un Clou collection in a 45-second short film which generated 900,000 engagements on Weibo alone.
Another brand to have come up with some innovative luxury brand marketing strategies is the Swatch Group. In 2018, it landed a massive e-commerce deal when it partnered with Tmall, China’s largest third-party platform for brands and retailers. It also opened its own e-commerce site on Japanese retailer Rakuten the same year, taking advantage of the vast and steadily growing luxury market in these countries – China and Japan ranked respectively as the world’s second and third biggest luxury markets after the USA, according to Statista.
Innovative marketing from the fashion industry
The luxury fashion industry prides itself of being at the cutting-edge of innovation, with edgy marketing strategies to match. Take Ted Baker, for example, which ran a brilliant digital campaign in 2017 using an eight-part sitcom called ‘Keeping up with the Bakers’ on Instagram. Followers were encouraged to visit the page daily to take part in challenges which were released as part of every episode.
Other innovative ways to market luxury fashion items in the 21st century include digital events such as the live-streaming of Dior’s 2020 A/W women’s collection catwalk in Paris on Weibo and online shopping platforms such as Louis Vuitton’s exclusive pop-up store for Valentine’s Day via a WeChat mini-program. The clever move by Louis Vuitton allowed customers to easily place orders online and meant that despite being launched in the middle of the Covid-19 outbreak in China, the iconic fashion label doubled its online sales compared to Valentine’s Day in 2019.
Luxury travel marketing campaigns
Before Covid, the global luxury travel industry was booming, with a 4.6% annual growth rate expected until 2025 at least. But fierce competition in the luxury travel market means that successful companies have always had to keep up to speed with innovative marketing ideas to ensure they get noticed.
A particularly effective strategy used by the luxury travel industry is increased personalisation, which allows brands to connect directly with customers and strike up long-lasting relationships. This simple yet effective luxury digital marketing strategy ensures that the unique needs and preferences of customers are taken into account so that they are ultimately presented with the right holiday or reservation idea at the right time. This is made possible via a comprehensive CRM such as HubSpot – at Relevance, we work with an array of yacht brokerages including Fraser Yachts, ensuring that they have a detailed record of each of their clients and can therefore provide a five-star service to each individual customer.
With so many of us today flocking to social media for holiday inspiration, luxury travel brands must search for ever more effective ways to engage their audience via social channels. One brand who has succeeded at this is the Four Seasons, which boasts over 150,000 fans on its Facebook page alone, for which it won Best Facebook Page in the inaugural Social Hotel Awards presented by Hotels Magazine. Four Seasons’ entire social approach may not seem particularly innovative, but it is refreshing in that it provides an ultra-convenient way for clients to communicate with them – many local branches of the hotel chain have their own social accounts as a way of providing direct connections to staff.
Susan Helstab, executive vice president of marketing at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, said: “We pride ourselves on staying ahead of our guests’ needs and expectations, and that same approach extends to our digital and social media philosophy. There is no limit to the virtual footprint of Four Seasons. From the blogosphere to the Twitterverse and beyond, we are continuing to grow and evolve the world of Four Seasons to foster dynamic, highly customized conversations with our guests and brand enthusiasts.”
We can see that no one marketing idea is exclusive to any luxury brand or sector, with marketeers across the luxury industry seeking bespoke methods to target UHNWIs in a landscape that is forever changing. However, if we were to discern which luxury industry consistently comes out with the most innovative marketing ideas, fashion would have to be given the recognition for its sheer creativity and boldness.
To discuss any of the digital marketing ideas mentioned above in detail, please get in touch with the team at Relevance.
Rumble Romagnoli is chief executive officer at Relevance.