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As the end of another year approaches, premium retail brands continue to navigate a new post-Covid era that sees the luxury market in an unprecedented state of cultural scrutiny.
The fundamental definition of what luxury means remains unchanged: quality, heritage and a desire for something beautiful. But over the past 20 months, amid the urgency of climate change, societal reckonings and a world-upending pandemic, people’s attitudes toward what constitutes luxury have been continually shifting.
Today’s consumers are seeking brands that align with their values just as much as they’re seeking the products being sold. Here are some ways luxury brand CMOs can adapt to the changing landscape.
Hybrid approach to retail spaces
Within the luxury industry, traditional brand models are breaking as cultural relevance, tech innovation and speed to market take prominence. Across the international retail space, store closings forced luxury brands to expand online offerings, which led to the realization that a brand’s physical retail space can be a technology-enabled hybrid playground for the consumer.
Department stores, for example, can evolve into cultural spaces like museums with digital tools to enhance the experience. CMOs who activate this synthesis will offer consumers a whole new way to step into a brand’s world and move the brand toward a better future, faster.
Tune into emotions and values
We are at a moment when radical collaboration and generosity are being prioritized by businesses across industries. Embrace this ethos and recognize that, along with meaningful experiences, responsible values are becoming ever more important to luxury consumers.
While exceptional, durable and timeless goods are still at the core of the luxury business, gone are the days when luxury was merely about accumulating products. Organize your marketing around what your brand means to your customers on an emotional level and offer your audience a fresh perspective.
Speak the language of your clients
Luxury brands and their creative agency partners need to offer their clients experience and expertise, both within the luxury sector as well as in regard to how brands at large are behaving today.
Sometimes, the mistake is when a luxury brand’s marketing department spends too much time reflecting on the past without rooting it in the present. Use the brand’s heritage as a springboard to craft something that finds its place in this cultural moment.
Move from possession to expression
There’s a common misconception that the luxury clientele is isolated and out of touch with the ever-evolving consumer landscape. But the luxury consumer, like any other, is looking for brands that wear their values on their sleeves rather than just telling people about them.
Realize that luxury today has become more about self-expression and less about possession. Tap into the beliefs that matter to your audience. Allow the brand to extend its reach and attract new customers without sacrificing its premium positioning. Ensure that your brand identity is about meaningful statements and not just status symbols.
Lay the foundation for future clientele
One of the things luxury brands have done well during the pandemic is to make certain items more accessible. Social media has driven demand for luxury goods, but often these new customers can only afford one or two pieces. Making items more accessible doesn’t just increase sales—it also introduces luxury brands to an audience that, as they accrue wealth, could grow into full consumers of the brand.
To prepare for these customers, be privy to the behaviors of young people in the modern cultural landscape. Pay attention to the issues they care about and ensure that your approach to these issues, such as sustainability, aligns with them. As you pinpoint the tenets of luxury of today, never stop thinking about luxury as it could be.
For the consumer of today, luxury is as much, if not more, about behavior as it is about the product. If you want to truly communicate the larger cultural value of your brand, evolve with your consumers, listen to their values and use them to elevate your role in the industry.