Six PR And Marketing Tips For Luxury Startups
So, you have the ultimate luxury product, and are now building a luxury brand, something beautiful, sumptuous, inspiring, something close to your heart. The good news is that the Middle East is an exceptional market for luxury. In a shaky global environment, luxury retail developments in the region continue to thrive and expand. The retail market in the UAE alone has grown to more than US$35 billion with continued growth anticipated at more than 5%, and top consultants like Deloitte continue to recommend the region, pointing out that it presents a big opportunity for luxury brands.
The bad news is that growth in global luxury retail sales has slowed from 8% to a more modest forecast of 4%, making a highly competitive sector even more competitive. Additionally, this is a disrupted market segment, with social media bringing the most change. Many tried-and-true approaches to marketing luxury are no longer effective, and even the most venerable luxury brands –the ones that used to dictate fashion to consumers– are scrambling for fresh ways to interact with customers. Furthermore, your potential customers are more sophisticated, with greater confidence in their own judgment, less brand loyalty, and ever higher expectations of bespoke brands that offer real experience, real knowledge and real storytelling.
If you can provide these things, you can win customers away from even the gold-standard luxury brands. Here's how:
1. Build a powerful narrative
Luxury today is defined by three key elements: scarcity, exclusivity, and provenance. Your marketing narrative and brand story must convey all three. The most successful luxury brands tend to be very story-rich and any content you put out must be imaginative, authoritative and relevant. Most importantly, it must stir the imagination and resonate with your target audience's dreams and ambitions. Every brand has stories, so find the most exquisite and evocative ones and make the most of them with image- and narrative-rich content about what makes your brand unique: rare materials, skilled craftsmanship, authentic provenance, new technology, creative talent. Imagination matters.
2. Create exclusivity
Luxury brands thrive on the perception of exclusivity, constantly reaffirming their position as an elite, aspirational force. From Swiss master watchmaker Patek Philippe, to extreme car manufacturer Koenigsegg, to British-built Rolls-Royce, exclusivity is a consistent theme. Rolls-Royce makes no more than 2,000 cars per year, every one bespoke and hand-finished. Buying into these brands allows consumers to become part of their world and feel that they belong to an exclusive club, which is an expression of their personality and taste. To build exclusivity, consider inviting select customers to exclusive VIP events, set up an invitation-only VIP membership or offer exclusive access to limited run and bespoke products.
3. Employ a sophisticated team
People who regularly buy luxury items or services are shrewd and sophisticated. They are connoisseurs. They demand seniority, experience and expert knowledge. Make sure your sales people –at every level– are elegant, well-trained, and intelligent as well. This includes your PR and marketing team, who must also be sophisticated to have insights into the taste and desires of your target customers.
4. Build community
The main difference between traditional and internet marketing is the level of interaction between you and your customers. Thanks to social media, consumers are accustomed to interacting with their favorite brands and with other followers of their favorite brands, and a good PR and marketing strategy needs to take this into consideration, online and off. As a luxury brand, the internet is the best way to reach your customers and keep an eye on your competitors. A strong web presence can be a much faster (and cost-effective) way to build community through blog posts featuring "ambassador' customers, social media interaction, and influencer marketing.
5. Use social media
Luxury brands should not overlook the impact of social media. Instagram is an especially powerful tool for this market segment. Of course, you want to include stunning images and content about your products, but don't neglect to vary your content beyond obvious self-serving sales images or your followers will lose interest and confidence in what you have to say. If you're selling, say, crocodile handbags, like Ethan K, include mouthwatering content about art and sporting events like Art Dubai, images of the designer's mood board and places that inspire him, as well as images of the bags and brand ambassadors.
6. Use influencer marketing
There is nothing that influences people as much as other people, and a few select people have the power to influence millions or even billions. Look at Kate Middleton: nearly every dress she is photographed in sells out within hours. This has been nicknamed "The Kate Effect," and it's estimated to contribute £1 billion to the UK fashion industry. We have had similar results for our clients, but the key to successful influencer marketing is to choose the right influencer, using well thoughtout analytics, not just Google, or ask a famous friend to be a brand ambassador. The other key to successful influencer marketing goes back to my first point: create superb content true to your brand narrative. Work closely with your brand ambassadors on the content they post about your brand, and post complimentary content on your own accounts and associated accounts to create a layered effect and build excitement.