Luxury brands are iconic. Their names show up everywhere from the red carpet to rap songs to Instagram and TikTok feeds. What makes these coveted names so alluring and aspirational to luxury consumers? What can other brands learn from modern luxury brand marketing strategies?
Luxury brand marketing strategies center around quality and exclusivity
Luxury brands bring two compelling value propositions to customers. The first is superior quality or functional value. For example, a Rolex watch is made from higher quality materials and with better craftsmanship than a moderately-priced watch. A Rolex, as a result, will last a lifetime or even multiple lifetimes if it’s passed on to someone else.
The second way luxury brands motivate consumers is through exclusivity. This refers to the status or symbolic value a customer receives from a product. Whether driving a BMW, carrying a Chanel bag, or wearing a Ralph Lauren Polo, the symbolic value can’t be matched by mid-market counterparts. Almost anyone can buy a moderately-priced watch. But, only a few people can own a Rolex, fewer still a Patek Philippe. This cost-prohibited exclusivity adds value and mystique to luxury products. It’s what makes them status symbols. But, the prestige behind these brands isn’t driven by price alone. It’s equally driven by luxury brand marketing.
The definition of luxury and what constitutes a luxury brand varies greatly. There are ultra-luxury brands with $10,000+ price points. Others have price points in the hundreds of dollars. For the purpose of this article, a luxury brand is defined as a brand that can command an above average price point due to some level of functional and symbolic value. While the degree of functional and symbolic value varies greatly along with the end customer, there is a much greater overlap in the retail, technology, and e-commerce strategies retailers with higher price points are exploring.
Let’s examine three ways modern brands use luxury brand marketing strategies to communicate lasting value through digital marketing and the customer experience.
1. Luxury brand marketing language evokes timelessness
In today’s economic climate, customers feel uncertain. These consumer sentiments affect how consumers interact with brands. In our 2023 Customer Motivation Report, the Persado Content Intelligence team analyzed consumer responses to 20.9 billion messages generated by the Persado Motivation AI Platform from more than 3,200 campaigns that ran throughout 2022. Brand narratives that promoted TIMELESSNESS with messages like “Always iconic,” “A verified classic,” and “Welcome to your new forever piece” saw the highest response for 68% of the campaigns in which it was used.
In tough economic times, consumers want to feel smart about their purchases. They want to be reassured that they are investing in something that is going to have longevity. This trend stayed strong across fashion and retail, even when the campaign promoted higher-priced goods.
Looking forward, Persado predicts that messages promoting TIMELESSNESS will continue to out-perform in 2023, as will related stories of VERSATILITY. Digital marketing messages like “Goes well with any outfit” and “From workday to weekend” are likely to out-perform alternative messages grounded in HYPE or SELF-CONFIDENCE.
For more on which brand messages perform best across different industries, check out the full report.
2. Owning your secondhand market is actually a luxury brand marketing strategy
Luxury brands have traditionally seen the secondhand market as a threat or even laughed it off. With pre-loved luxury goods sold at a fraction of the retail price, it’s no wonder many luxury brands have historically shied away from this market. But, times have changed and demand for secondhand products is quickly increasing. According to thredUP’s 2022 Resale Report, the global secondhand market is expected to grow 127% by 2026. That’s 3x faster than the global apparel market overall.
As the internet and resale platforms like Poshmark and The RealReal make buying and selling luxury goods secondhand more accessible to the average consumer, sentiments toward the secondhand market have changed drastically. Buying secondhand was once associated with being low-income. Today, many people—including those with solid incomes enjoy thrifting, consignment shopping, and secondhand finds. Companies such as Trove help brands like REI, Lululemon, and Patagonia reclaim their secondhand market through their omnichannel trade-in and reverse logistics technology.
Let’s explore the reasons why so many iconic brands devote entire sections of their e-commerce and in-store presence to the resale market with branded initiatives like Coach (Re)Loved and Patagonia Worn Wear.
The luxury secondhand market is growing 4x faster than the primary luxury market, at 12% per year vs. 3% percent. Luxury resale is currently a $24 billion market. Forward-thinking luxury brands are seeing consumer demand for pre-owned luxury increase and getting in on the ground floor. By owning their secondhand market, brands can retain control of their brand and pricing structure and make a margin twice on the same product.
It’s a common misconception that adding a secondhand section to a brand’s e-commerce website or in-store experience deters customers from buying new full priced products. Instead, it opens up the brand to a new and larger target audience. While there is always some crossover, the secondhand customer tends to be different. They are often shopping at a lower price point and/or are looking for more sustainable options. It also attracts a younger audience as Generation Z and Millennials are more willing than Generation X to purchase pre-owned products. One year after launching its resale arm, Isabel Marant reported that two-thirds of its second hand buyers are new direct clients. In 2022, 70% of all Patagonia’s Worn Wear Cyber Monday online sales were from first-time customers.
Luxury consumers embrace the second hand market not just as a means to make luxury goods more accessible, but also as a way to recycle luxury items they aren’t using. Today’s customers are aware of overproduction and its effect on the environment. So many look to a circular economy where the same goods can be resold over and over again. The best way for brands to show their commitment to social causes such as sustainability is through their actions. Outdoor brands like Arc’teryx and NEMO Equipment have effectively incorporated their secondhand market, repairs, and trade-ins into their overall mission to build a more sustainable future.
Durability and timelessness
When brands embrace the secondhand market, they reinforce the message that their products are durable and high quality. It’s social proof that their products can expect to have a second or even a third life. This can be an added selling point for buyers paying full price for new goods.
3. Outstanding omnichannel customer experiences
The luxury customer experience should have just as much quality and longevity as the products themselves. Luxury customers want to feel like the brand knows them personally and rewards their passion and brand loyalty tenfold.
The in-store experience is dynamic and personalized. Store associates speak to each customer differently and if what they say doesn’t resonate with them, they try something else. One of the ways top retailers bring the in-store experience online is through personalized messaging across their digital channels. Persado Motivation-aware Generative AI makes it possible for global retailers to “speak” to each customer personally and increase conversions across the digital experience. Persado uses Generative AI and first-party data to serve exactly the right words to the right customers to motivate them to engage and act at key points in the digital journey including at checkout.
Some luxury retailers still focus on the sanctity of a premium in-store experience and encourage customers to contact them or visit their physical stores. These brands see the value in the traditional relationships store associates have with top customers. They might even choose not to sell certain products online. In the spirit of exclusivity, most luxury brands will keep some product lines or rare products completely offline.
Luxury brands range greatly in how they list products online. Some provide detailed product descriptions on their e-commerce pages, while others provide almost none. Some show photos of models displaying the products, while others only provide images of the products themselves. While luxury in-store experiences still remain vital to most luxury brand marketing strategies, the demand for online VIP experiences like closed digital communities, live chat, and invitation-only apps is growing among luxury retailers as more and more consumers expect the same VIP experience online that they get in-store.
In addition to perfecting the in-store experience, some top luxury brands are digital pioneers. E-commerce leaders at Tapestry (Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman) shared in a webinar how they test new experiences and messaging with the help of Persado.
Today’s luxury brands express long-term value and exclusivity by mixing traditional timeless quality and first-rate in-store experiences with the modern demand for secondhand options and impactful digital shopping experiences. This fusion of new and old luxury has allowed brands with higher price points to evolve, reach new audiences, and provide even more value on more channels. What truly makes a brand iconic and timeless, is the ability to maintain their traditional brand identities while creating innovative and engaging omnichannel experiences where the best in-store experiences are consistently recreated across digital channels.
Schedule a demo to discover how you can make your brand’s digital experience more personalized and dynamic with AI-generated messaging.