The Great Gatsby’s opening line highlights the privilege of pleasure-seeking uber-wealthies: “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” Gatsby’s father said, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
If you have read the book, you know that the advantages here signal at the human frailty caught in a trap of hedonism — the never-ending desire to accumulate more than what is necessary for us.
Although I know that is the truth, I am not going to be a non-materialistic Young Turk here trying to oppose the materialistic or capitalistic corporality of a world coveted by luxury. Rather I want to help marketers understand how luxury products have managed to stay relevant despite their exorbitant prices. And also, how premium brands have cemented their position for the higher class in the social hierarchy. Because we live in a society where we are hamstrung by our needs, wants, family, social status, and the habit of continually validating the self-worth through monetary means, or in this case, luxury products.
If you are not a reader, the movie the Wolf of Wall Street is another excellent example that exemplifies the universal desire for money and how wild people could turn to seek opulence.
Fashion, in its purest form, is both the way of seeking material pleasure and expressing oneself. For many people, fashion could be just a pricey product that is voguish enough to convince you to spend lavishly. But for other people who understand fashion, it could be a way of expressing their personality through a brand they feel is the right one for them.
Why Luxury Marketing?
Once associated with a class that included historians, philosophers, and intellectuals, the luxury market has now encompassed everyone who can afford it. Humans, in some or the other way, develop a sense of association. Despite higher product prices, people do crave for it due to psychological influence.
Luxury products are often looked upon as an aspiration because we aspire to possess luxury products. We, as human beings, always strive to become better each day, upgrade ourselves and evolve in line with society. A luxury product is a tangible element to trace and introspect how far we have come as an individual and what more can we aspire to possess.
Apart from status, self-indulgence, and a sense of exclusivity, there is more to luxury marketing. Consider Apple, although other players are offering excellent products at a much lower price, the company has successfully convinced the world that having an iPhone will always be better than owning another phone.
Experience: Infuse Experience in Your Brand
A product’s quality, price, output, etc. all amount to just one thing — experience. Before anything else, as a marketer, you need to understand that a customer will only remember the experience your product offered. Luxury is experience. Instead of going for an inexpensive cheap brand if a person is willing to pay five times more to you for a product that you claim is a luxury product, your product should live up to the expectations of the extra-ordinary experience.
Let us consider Rolls Royce — the brand which exemplifies luxury precisely. Rolls Royce produces cars, and just like any other car, it has four wheels, four doors, a steering wheel, etc. So what makes it different from other cars? What persuades people to spend USD 300,000 plus on Rolls Royce when they can get away with USD 30,000 for any other ordinary car? Experience is the answer. The interior, the feel, the elegance, all these attributes convince people to spendthrift on the brand.
Rolls Royce has a seat that is made of bull hides. The car owner can enjoy a comfortable posture. Its interior is finished by leather or book-made veneers. Expect for the trunk; the car is entirely made of aluminum. Now you might want to reassess the price.
Customers, when the price seems to exceed, they inevitably consider experience as a justification. So your brand needs to infuse a luxurious experience if you want to reach out to high-net-worth individuals.
Esoteric: Target One Segment, Others Will Follow
Esoteric means the thing which is limited to a circle, designed to understood by few, and is unique and special. Some time-honored brands have long-established their legacy that only a few can understand. These brands have their unique set of principles, approaches, and different business strategies that strike the chord of a particular segment of society as if the brand has tailored itself for them.
When a brand attracts a specific segment, ultimately, other people feel intrigued. And they, as human nature has always been, follow the crowd and become a part of that segment. Hence, in the case of luxury marketing, being esoteric is an effective marketing strategy. Just target one segment of society, preferably high-class, other people will follow after checking their pockets.
Eponymous: What is in Name? Luxury.
If your brand name has a story tell, who wouldn’t listen?
Your brand name, and more interestingly the history or story behind that name, appeals to people more than a witty wordplay — take Louis Vuitton, for example, a brand name that is hard to pronounce for some people makes it a luxury already. A brand name exerts a substantial influence on the brand image. It creates an impression that has a ring to it, which only the right customer hears.
Eponymous simply means a name given to someone after a particular person or group. Adidas, Tesla, Louis Vuitton, etc. are all the brand names derived from their founders’ names. Tesla, however, is a name derived from Nikola tesla.
Tesla is well-known for its futuristic products, peerless innovation, and out-of-the-box approach toward business. Nikola Tesla, as we all know, was the person who reflected the same qualities. If you see here, the brand name Tesla echos characteristics, a story, and history too.
Decoding Consumer Behavior
Consumer buying behavior has been changing a lot over time, and people have adopted a different approach toward the monetary value of a product. Let us say you are buying a phone, in this case, what sounds more reasonable: an overpriced phone made by a notable brand name, or a cheaper alternative with the same features but produced by a not-so-famous brand name? Experience, brand loyalty, reputation, and the desire to flaunt, play a key role here.
This pattern changes, but the demand for luxury products has never witnessed a severe downfall. Hence, the approach of your brand toward the high-class should change in accordance with the prevailing situation. When you figure out the likes, dislikes, and buying habits of a customer, it is much easier to influence them for buying luxury products.
The human mind has strange ways of functioning. It is supposed to work rationally, but we often tend to swim with the stream. The mind demands comfort and convenience. And if you want to tap into the customer’s mind for the best interest of your luxury brand, you better devise a robust luxury marketing strategy that influences, convinces, justifies, and renders seamless experience.