Luxury Marketing to Millennials

Marketing to Millennials is not like marketing to their parents or grandparents. Millennials are digital natives at heart. Their idea of importance is not shaped by luxurious and exclusive possessions, but by a commitment to freedom of expression, new experiences and technology that balances their busy lifestyles. Luxury alone will not cut it.

With many alternatives to choose from, millennials demand better value for their money and greater real-time curation from their luxury brands. They will not accept a brand’s status at face value, preferring to unearth information for themselves. This means that brands must cater to this digital outlook to have any hope of attracting millennial interest.

Unfortunately, in marketing luxury towards Millennials, mistakes are abundant, the most common challenges that keep brand owners up at night is that there is not enough differentiation. This is incredible because luxury is by definition extreme value creation. E extreme value can only be created and maintained if a brand has distinct brand proposition. If a brand is replaceable, then it does not create a defendable extreme value. High price points and customer love won’t be sustainable. There is a real need for luxury brands to become much more distinct, differentiated, and relevant.

Millennials are not passive consumers. They are curators and creators, appreciating personalisation and the ability to share their voice. A seamless digital experience must recognise and incorporate these desires to reach this active audience.

A common mistake in all brand sectors, is not perfectly executing the consumer journey. Most brands plan for the best case, few have contingencies in place on how to build brand equity when things go wrong.

Bad experience happens all the time across all brands and categories, A sales person in a luxury fashion store who’s having a bad day and is snappy at the customer, a telephone support staff wrongly tells the person wanting to amend a booking at a luxury hotel that reservations are wrong . The list goes on and on and on. For the Millennials, every-touch point counts. Every negative interaction can make Added Luxury Value experience collapse, even if the interaction initially seems small. Luxuries are not normal products! They’re the ones creating the highest perceived consumer value, and when things go wrong, they feel cheated. And rightly so!

More platforms offer purchase buttons, and many brands release their own mobile applications. These are both tools valued by millennial consumers, and those businesses that neglect the effect of a poor user experience are setting themselves up for failure.

Luxury Brands need to rethink their approach. Starting with a rigorous assessment of how well-positioned and differentiated their brand is. Because (internal) perception is not reality, this should be done utilising data-driven insight tools. If the brand is not strong enough, it must be repositioned and strengthened. We hear from teams of teams, that they can’t change anything, as the brand is defined in the head office in an other country. If there are gaps, they need to be addressed ASAP! Competition is too strong; Millennial consumers are too impatient and weak brands will not survive.

So how can brands ensure that they avoid some of the problems and offer delight at every touch point?

Millennial consumers do not take brand messages for granted, so heritage brands must take their stories out of the usual luxury format and refresh their image. The best way to do this is to embrace and leverage the millennial drive for creation.

Mercedes-Benz’s “Take the Wheel” campaign offers a great example of this approach.

Five Instagram photographers were given the latest luxury vehicle to test-drive for five days. Each photographer posted pictures on his or her account, and the photographer with the most likes was gifted the car.

The campaign delivered 87 million organic impressions on Instagram alone, as well as more than a half-million mentions on Facebook and Twitter.

Without deviating from their values, companies can perform a brand audit among millennials, analyse the results and find new angles of the brand story to empower and engage millennial consumers. By losing the “old luxury” tag, they can find and embrace a new one.

Not everybody can afford to buy luxury products, so luxury brands need to speak directly to the subset actively seeking them out.

Burberry adopted this approach with its 2014 London Fashion Week and 2016 Chinese New Year WeChat campaigns. The company identified Chinese fashionistas as a key demographic for growth, and it sought the best possible platform to engage with them. With 93 percent of the population of China’s largest cities on WeChat, there could only ever be one winner here.

Brands cannot adopt an “if you build it, they will come” mentality. Experiences must be targeted at key demographics to have the greatest impact, and they need to use that demographics’ preferred platform.

Luxury brands often enjoy the admiration of aspirational fans, but that does not always translate into sales. To get the most from a social media relationship, luxury brands need to go beyond that one-way admiration and start acknowledging the fans. Partnering with users to create content is a great way to do this, and Burberry’s “Art of the Trench” platform is a great example.

Instead of simply overwhelming users with airbrushed photos of celebrities and models, Burberry gave its customers the chance to showcase their own style by uploading pictures of themselves in their Burberry trench coats. Brands can also benefit from reposting and tagging user handles on social platforms. All of these options give consumers a feeling of ownership over the brand story, ensuring luxury brands are aspirational and accessible.

The customer journey needs to be scrutinised, audited, and optimised. Luxury is not just an excellent customer journey. It’s something that has to be maximally differentiated from the journeys of all competitors, so that a customer bonds emotionally with the brand.

Brands should not be afraid to challenge the industry status quo. They should always be searching for new approaches and cutting-edge social experiences, they can appeal to savvy Millennials, offering a real substantive experience to back up the luxury name.

The time for complacency is over.

3 Realms Digital is a digital and creative agency that offers a full suite of digital services through a mix of behavioural and psychographic storytelling, to increase sales.

We simplify complex marketing noise through physchographical data mining customer behaviour, journey, Insight and execute through creative concepts to help clients exceed their sales goals.

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