Luxury brands should focus on curating branded experiences

Luxury brands should expand beyond experiential marketing for goods to focus on curating branded experiences, says the president of VICE‘s Fashion and Luxury Group.

Whereas consumers formerly used hard luxury goods to communicate status or identity, today’s status symbols are tied increasingly to experiences, as shoppers use social media to broadcast a sense of belonging. During the “How Luxury Brands Should Future Proof” keynote at Luxury FirstLook 2018: Exclusivity Redefined on Jan. 17, the executive noted that brands can fulfill consumers’ desires for esteem or identity.

“Luxury brands are about cultural codes” said Tammy Smulders, president of the Fashion and Luxury Group at Vice. They are about how people say who they are to themselves, to other people,” she said. “And how people are participating in different cultures and associating themselves with different scenes and ideologies comes through how they choose and work with these different brands.”

According to a Havas LuxHub study conducted by Ms. Smulders during her time at the company, if consumers have $10,000 to spend, Westerners are more apt to spend on a vacation. In China, the preference is still for luxury fashion, but even this market will also evolve toward experience.

Luxury follows Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” and luxury goods mean different things to different people. For some, luxury provides a sense of belonging, while others use a purchase as a reward to themselves.

For some consumers, attitudes about authenticity and ownership are also changing. Ms. Smulders said that during a focus group with women ages 18 to 22, participants said they did not feel guilty about owning fake luxury goods because they had purchased authentic goods from the same brand, making them part of the club.

In many cases, consumers also spend with a brand to establish a relationship. Therefore, brands need to consider creating a positioning or tribe that consumers will want to be a part of and interact with.

One of the luxury examples of brands building a purchasable experience is Chanel’s branded spa at the Hôtel Ritz Paris. The “Chanel au Ritz Paris” offers guests and spa enthusiasts a beauty destination dedicated to the brand’s skincare offerings.

Using Chanel’s skincare products Chanel au Ritz Paris “provide[s] women with a unique sensorial and customized experience.” A spa setting is a good testing ground for consumers who may be more familiar with Chanel’s fragrances, and will present an opportunity for guests to sample the brand’s skincare offerings without a commitment to purchase

“Consumers will continue to look for experiences,” Ms. Smulders said. “And I think it’s important to note that experiences cannot only be in the future of marketing exercises.

“Right now when brands are talking about, ‘Here’s how I did experiences,’ it’s about how they did an event or how they did something in the store, but they’re still selling products,” she said. “Will brands be moving into actually not just marketing through experiences but actually selling brand experiences?”

adapted from Luxury Daily

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