As 2020 draws to a welcome close, we all look forward to 2021 with renewed hope and optimism. It has been a very difficult year for the majority of businesses, and this has not excluded the luxury industry.
Non-essential retailers have been closed across the world for great swathes of 2020, meaning the only option for selling luxury goods such as jewelry, fashion and cars was online. This brought with it new challenges, especially for those brands who had not invested in digital before the pandemic hit. Yacht and luxury travel businesses were put on hold. Michelin Star restaurants and exclusive bars and nightclubs were closed indefinitely.
In 2021 we could all benefit from a serious dose of rejuvenation. There are always ways we can improve our businesses, but the ideas below are all very relevant to right now. All of these ideas can and will work across the luxury industry, no matter how irrelevant they may seem to your brand currently. Some of them you may have tried out or toyed with before, but 2021 is the year to really commit.
Below, we look at five of the most important marketing ideas to include in your luxury brand marketing strategy for the coming year.
Five essential ideas for your luxury brand marketing strategy
1. Adapt for voice search
With the rise of home AI, voice searching is now a key digital marketing trend for 2021. Google reports that 27% of the global population with access to the internet uses voice search, while Adobe has found that almost 50% of searches are now voice. What’s more, Nielsen estimates at least one in four Americans owns a smart speaker.
Mobile Marketer projects that by 2022, voice search for shopping needs will have turned into a $40bn industry, with 55% of teenagers – some of whom will be the next generation of UHNW shoppers – currently using voice search daily.
It’s no secret that the manner in which we speak and write are very different, so your business should adapt its digital strategy accordingly. For example, voice searchers tend to speak in complete sentences – Alphametic has found that the average length of voice searches is 29 words, whereas Moz states three words to be the average for mobile and six as standard for desktop. The way searches are phrased will also be different, meaning that a re-assessment of your keyword strategy is likely in order.
Pay more attention to long-tail phrases, or even entire sentences, and anticipate specific questions asked in a more conversational manner. Also, make sure your site is optimised for local SEO if it isn’t already – the Meeker’s Internet Trends Report found that voice search is three times more likely to be local in nature.
Some brands are already taking advantage of this trend. For example, Johnny Walker, the iconic whisky brand, has built a Q&A and recommendation system tailored to both Amazon Alexa and Google Home that answers certain questions, gives product guidance based on personal tastes, and educates consumers on whisky trivia. We are likely to see more luxury businesses follow suit in 2021, and you don’t want to get left behind.
2. Think green and socially
Luxury consumers around the world – especially gen Z and millennials – are demanding that brands make a more positive impact on the planet and society. Moreover, consumers are becoming more eagle-eyed when it comes to aligning words with actions. With ever-heightening demands for green and sustainable practices, ethical manufacturing, respect of online privacy and taking a stand for social justice, it is no longer enough for brands to simply offer exceptional luxury products or services. They must really show that they care, and the only way to do this is to make it a core part of their luxury brand marketing strategy.
Businesses would be wise to follow the route of Stella McCartney (which has always positioned itself as a caring brand) and Gucci, which have both partnered with luxury fashion resale seller TheRealReal to ensure pre-loved clothing does not go to waste.
Tesla’s success is also a testament to the willingness of consumers to support eco-friendly luxury businesses – at the start of 2020, Tesla was the highest performing automaker in terms of total return, sales growth and long-term shareholder value, according to Harvard Business Review.
3. Create podcasts
At the end of 2017, Nielsen had already calculated that 50% of American households and 28% of Europeans were regular podcast listeners. In February, Nielsen estimated that the total podcast audience had risen at a compound average growth rate of 20% from 2014-2019. With the stay-at-home measures of 2020, people around the world have become hungrier for audio content and this number has increased even more, making podcasts a top digital marketing trend for 2021.
Podcasts are a fantastic way to give your brand a stronger voice and make fans fall in love with you. Whether your target audience is mass-market or UHNW, there will be a specialist topic that you can interest your clients in and create content around. The accessible yet expert nature of podcasts will make your brand seem more trustworthy, knowledgeable and authentic.
Brands like Four Seasons, Balmain, Fortnum & Mason and many others have already cashed in on this. In 2020, Dior launched podcasts on arts and culture, retracing the histories of those who shaped the brand, and exploring themes like feminist art or environmentalism. Chloé and Gucci’s recent podcast series are frank conversations, involving strong iconic women or hidden figures of the luxury industry. In August, BMW announced it would launch a music-discovery podcast to shine a light on lesser-known artists.
4. Prepare for 5G
5G is already in Monaco and is spreading rapidly across the globe, and it’s estimated to be 10 to 20 times faster than 4G when fully deployed. You may well be thinking: great, but how does that affect my business?
The world’s top 1% will quickly acquire 5G-compatible devices and begin accessing your site from them. This will benefit your brand because, firstly, since 5G can cope with so many more devices, this will bring new data which could help make your business smarter. Secondly, it may allow companies to work in previously unreachable locations. And, lastly, all digital business processes should become much more efficient.
However, it is important that you prepare for this and incorporate 5G into your luxury brand marketing strategy. Futurist Bernard Marr advises that you may want to create a 5G strategy, looking at what possible corporate goals 5G could solve for you and how you can work towards that. Also, look at how your systems will deal with increased data, and invest in digital security – with 5G comes the debate of privacy, and you will win more loyal clients by addressing these concerns early on.
5. While looking forward, don’t lose track of legacy
More than ever, people want to invest in timeless, soulful and lifelong products and experiences. Value lies in the authenticity of your brand and the stories you tell through multi-media marketing efforts, which should focus on the craftsmanship, history and legacy of the brand.
Nostalgia is a powerful tool. With the tumultuous year that’s passed, people are increasingly looking back to the past for a sense of security and comfort. In their latest campaigns, Gucci reminisced about glittery 90s office parties and Dior went back to chic 1950s silhouettes. Meanwhile, one of Aston Martin’s most successful collaborations this year was the launch of its team-up with Bowmore Whisky, which focused on reproducing the quintessential suave 1960s James Bond-like experience.
While 2020 may not have been any of our most successful years, I hope these ideas have given you the inspiration to be unstoppable in 2021. If you’d like to discuss them further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Wishing you all the prosperity for the new year.
Rumble Romagnoli is Relevance’s chief executive officer.