A guide to strategic luxury brand marketing

A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!

Well, that’s luxury marketing opportunity the bard William Shakespeare has spelt out for you. A game of pureplay demand of luxe-addiction and constrained supply in the name of limited-edition or handcrafted-edition.

The first step is in understanding the very basic difference between marketing of luxury brands vis-?-vis non-luxury.

A marketer needs to understand that straightforward cost-effectiveness card is off the table. You have to sell the dazzle card, not the value-for-money card (not upfront, it will come in a very different format much later in the play).

So luxe is your USP.

The second step is to sell the story – a tale of aspiration, a tale that you will want the buyer to crave to be a part of. This story will justify to the buyer the premium you are charging. This needs to be a story of legacy, of historical stature and of aspiration.

The third step is n convincing the client that this is the only chance, the only window of opportunity to become part of that legacy. The object, be it a watch (say a Rolex) or a pen (Montblanc) or a trunk (Louis Vuitton) or a car (Rolls Royce), will make the client a part of that proud history. So the strategy is that even after listening to the history the client still is not convinced, convince him/her that he/she is making the biggest mistake of his life as this is an opportunity of a lifetime.

The key(words) that usually opens the doors of the minds of the clients are – handcrafted, limited edition, special edition, exclusive, hand-picked, exquisite craftsmanship in some remote hamlet, say in Venice.

The mindset of a typical Indian buyer seldom goes beyond “value-for-money”. So at some level you have to address that. But never in the first step, but only after the story is sold. The premium charged is complete value for money because the legacy is priceless. The moment the client is sold on the value proposition the deal is sealed.

Now let us look into the steps that need to be taken for strategic marketing of news brands which want to make a mark in the luxury space.

First, define the brand aspiration, the strategic objective. For example, 10 years down the line you want to become the most-sought after watch brand among men in the age-group of 30-45 years at a certain price-point in China. So the objective needs to be very specific and spelt out – period, geography, target audience, price point, etc.

Second, weave a story, a story of legacy, of exquisite craftsmanship, a story that willjustify your raison d’erte in the luxury brand space.

The third step is to understand and take stock of the initial conditions: What is the current positioning, which is the current target group, what is the current price point, which is the geography currently present in, and what’s the position vis-a-vis competition in minutest details.

This will give you clarity of the distance you have to traverse to reach your strategic objective.

The fourth step is to define is every minutest details the final conditions. This will flesh out the brand aspiration into specific targets. This will capture all the conditions that will enable attaining the strategic objective. Say, elimination of current market leader in that geography, dominating a certain geography, top of the mind recall among men in a specific age bracket, etc. This will help flesh out the final results that you want to achieve for reaching the SO.

The fifth and most crucial step is to formulate action points which will help map the starting point to the end points. These action points will show how to bridge the gap between the initial “have nots” and the final “haves”. This mapping will tell you how over the years, one year at a time, you will slowly reach your objective of brand aspiration. Study the model of competition and understand the modalities as to how marketing needs to be done differently, what is the selling point, what is the story, etc.

These action points are basically strategic marketing activities put together in the marketing plan.

Always remember, the story is priceless.

Let your quest for luxury continue.


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