Complete PR and Marketing Guide to Fashion and Luxury Brands
PR and Marketing is quite a broad discipline which continues to evolve and grow at an exponential rate. In many ways, this rising importance can be attributed to increased competition in recent years but at the same time, the online world and high expectations in general have demanded a much greater effort and focus from brands. In fact, any modern business strategy is almost certain to fail without smart PR and marketing and this is especially true when it comes to fashion and luxury brands.
With this in mind, let us take an in-depth look at PR and Marketing for Fashion and Luxury Brands with some specific examples of brands who thrive in the face of this increasingly competitive market:
Introduction to Marketing for Fashion and Luxury Brands
While it may seem strange to emphasize the importance of marketing in the fashion industry, many studies have illustrated how perception is a particularly important consideration for luxury brands. That is to say, luxury brands are required to convey a stronger perception to potential customers and the best way to do this is through PR and marketing.
After all, the luxury customer is notoriously hard to attract and this requires an especially consistent effort in terms of maintaining a meaningful relationship. Furthermore, expectations are always much higher for luxury brands and first impressions are meaningless unless the brand can continue to demonstrate a perception of superior value.
In many ways, this is also what separates a luxury brand from the competition for perception will often dictate the price a consumer is willing to pay for a product or service. Needless to say, this should explain why luxury brands are so focused on marketing strategy but then this is also a visual industry and one which naturally relies on the standard principles of marketing.
Why is Marketing Different for the Fashion and Luxury Brand Industry?
As mentioned above, while most of the same marketing principles apply to every industry, expectations require a more thoughtful approach to marketing for fashion and luxury brands. Indeed, the customer’s perception of a brand is extremely important as sales in this industry are more reliant on emotional connections than a particular price point. In other words, luxury customers are usually willing to pay a higher price for an experience in which they perceive a significant amount of value.
As you may know, this value is different for every individual and quite often, the perceived value can even relate to the emotions a product or service can evoke in the customer. With this in mind, we can see that marketing for fashion and luxury brands is a rather psychological process which targets the hearts of customers just as much as the mind.
Defining the Most Suitable Niche for the Brand
When a luxury brand enters the market, there should be a reasonably clear idea in terms of the characteristics and needs of the target market. In fact, to merely identify the customer as “luxury-minded” is not enough, for the product should serve a very precise purpose and be desired by an equally precise consumer. For this reason, researching the market is vital for the long-term success of a product or brand and not only will this provide information on the competition, but also evidence that the product is in demand. Furthermore, identifying a niche market will align the brand with customers who want or need the product in question.
Indeed, defining a suitable niche will place the brand in a much smaller market and this will not only mean less competition but also a better chance of connecting with the right customers.
Establishing a Marketing Strategy for Luxury Brands
Business plans are essential for long-term growth or assessment over time and the very same can be said about a marketing strategy. In the case of luxury brands, there is often significant financial backing to counter potential pitfalls but regardless, there should always be a clear and concise marketing strategy to ensure nothing goes to waste during the process.
That being said, few brands manage to fully grasp this concept and the general importance of strategy. In spite of there being a plethora of subtopics to attend to in a marketing strategy, some brands even think of this effort as optional rather than a pillar of success.
The Luxury Strategy for Marketing and Luxury Brands
Steve Jobs and Apple is the perfect example of the luxury strategy and how targeting the emotions of customers can translate directly into sales. In the case of the tech giant, Apple created an emotional connection between famous influencers and the brand which compelled customers to perceive a higher sense of value in the associated products.
However, as we can see with the famous models and icons, this luxury strategy is much more common in the world of Fashion. Although this strategy is not merely focused on prestigious people but also every other aspect of singularity including time, country, heritage, craftsmanship, and personality. While this may seem a little broad, the luxury strategy is essentially an effort to differentiate a product or brand by carefully defining every last minor detail.
Tips and Common Concepts for Marketing Luxury Brands
Indeed, the luxury strategy is arguably the most preferred approach to branding in this particular industry but there is much to know within this domain. In fact, an unspeakable number of tactics or micro-strategies can fall under this same umbrella and this variety is likely to expand as the market evolves further.
Here are some of the most important aspects of marketing for luxury brands and fashion to consider when establishing the most effective strategy possible:
Taking Advantage of Supply and Demand
Supply and demand is a funny concept. Simply put, most people desire what they cannot have and for this reason, scarcity is often the motivation behind a decision to purchase. With this in mind, luxury brands realize the importance of exclusivity and focus on minor details which can set the product apart in terms of style and presentation. In some cases, luxury brands will introduce a product as “limited edition” but either way, the objective is to communicate a sense of urgency and compel the customer to take action.
An example of this is evidenced by a recent offer from Girlfriend Collective – a luxury lingerie brand in the United States. In order to gain traction with the target market, the brand made a limited offer to send a $100 pair of leggings to any customer who merely shared the offer on Facebook and covered the cost of shipping. In essence, this was a smart way to use supply and demand to leverage and market the new product.
Telling the Story Behind the Brand
Failing to nurture a relationship with customers is one of the major downfalls for luxury brands. Conversely, communicating with the customer is also one of the most accessible options in terms of marketing for fashion and luxury brands. That is to say, luxury brands are often exposed to exciting or rewarding experiences in the production process and these are easy to relay to potential customers. For example,
Indeed, customers are often impressed with the great care and attention that goes into producing a particular product and this is especially true when it adheres to their ethical beliefs. It should also be known that Instagram is an especially effective visual and medium through which to communicate this message.
Gabrielle Chanel opened her first store at the age of 21 and grew Chanel into one of the largest luxury brands in the world. In the time since this flamboyant brand has been telling a story and the Chanel website is nothing short of a storytelling masterpiece. As you might expect, this serves only to heighten the connection between the brand and customers who love a good story.
Using Organic Strategies
As mentioned above, in spite of the easy access, certain tactics are often ignored in the process of establishing a brand and organic marketing is certainly one of these. In case you might be asking yourself, organic marketing for a luxury brand is most often attributed to stories from affiliates or associates to the brand. In the case of the world famous Nike, the sports brand has always used known athletes to give credibility and personality to the shoes or clothing. In time, these stories translate to the personality to the brand.
However, organic marketing can also be an internal effort in which an important figure in the brand such as the CEO can use a prominent online presence to document their relationship with the brand. In many ways, this is often a more powerful way to deliver such a message as they are providing an insight into the people behind the brand, as well as the product or service being promoted.
Employing Sensory Branding
Visuals are everything for a luxury brand, almost. High-end packaging and special features are known to attract more attention from potential customers. After all, when customers finally acquire these products, they are likely to feel privileged to these features and perceive status in their association with the product or brand. However, touch and smell are just as important for a luxury product and these are often used to create a stronger connection with the customer.
For example, did you know that designer stores use the same colors and scents in their stores around the world? In most cases, the design is rather subtle but a distinct fragrance is often noted which is part of the sensory experience which the brands wish to convey. In case you might be asking yourself, such stores include Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, and Prada.
Creating Online Presence
If you walk into a perfume store and a particular luxury brand is not clearly displayed, the customer is unlikely to know or think about it. For the very same reason, if potential customers are browsing online for a new perfume, they are unlikely to locate a brand which has little to know online presence. Indeed, product placement is just as important online and this is achieved through blogs, videos and many more forms of content marketing including paid advertisements.
Either way, online presence is extremely important for a luxury brand to be found and Burberry is a prime example of a fashion brand which has fully embraced the online world. In this sense, you can find live fashion shows and interviews on the website as well as an interactive buying experience for a full range of luxury goods.
Adopting Email Marketing Campaigns
Luxury brands should seek to create business relationships in which they can potentially obtain email lists from reputable publications and then use them with a certain degree of finesse. While social media and messenger bots are now the primary means of communication, email is still considered the most effective marketing channel.
Interestingly, luxury brands can now use these email lists to generate leads and target relevant customers. As part of the process, luxury brands place pixels in an email to potential buyers which can then track the consumer’s online behavior and re-target these customers with strategically placed advertisements. While there are no notable examples of effective email marketing, these campaigns are extremely common and widely practiced in the fashion industry.
Making the Most of Luxury Names
One of the most important aspects of a luxury brand is in the name. After all, customers associate certain emotions with brand names and this is most often positive in the case of a luxury brand. As you may know, recent studies show that luxury products are usually purchased on emotion as opposed to pricing and with the names of these luxury brands names at the forefront of the customer’s mind, there is usually an increased probability of converting a customer.
With this in mind, loyal customers of Prada, Gucci or any other luxury brand are unlikely to need much convincing when it comes to trusting their choice of purchase.
Maintaining Traditional Methods
While everything seems to be online nowadays, this has also left somewhat of a void in traditional marketing and advertising avenues. That is to say, with so many businesses rushing to create an online presence or digital marketing strategies, there is less focus on traditional mediums of communication.
Although ASOS is not necessarily a luxury brand, this iconic fashion website is still known to distribute a physical magazine. In fact, the magazine is still one of the most popular fashion publications in the world and is said to convert record numbers of readers into customers on an annual basis.
Creating an Impressive Referral Program
Luxury brand customers are always eager to tell their friends and family about their favorite brand. With this in mind, referral marketing is one of the most effective tactics and one that can produce incredible results. At the same time, there must be a convenient system in places which enables these customers to share the love.
Dyer & Jenkins is a premium denim and knitwear company who provide a superb referral program for their customers. Upon sharing this link on social media, friends are invited to sign up for a discount while the person who shares the link is also provided with a monetary reward for every purchase made by friends and family.
Using Social Media to Advance
Nurturing relationships is also a great opportunity to establish the wants and needs of customers. Through asking questions and answering inquiries, luxury brands can identify the values, qualities, and characteristics associated with their customers which can then be integrated into how the brand decides to communicate in future.
Once again, Burberry is a leading brand in the world of marketing and home to one of the largest online fashion communities in the world. With this in mind, Burberry creates platforms on which to interact with customers who can then leave feedback on any aspect of the products, services or even the store layout.
Remaining Inclusive and Relatable
Discrimination has no place in any industry but there is still a need for brands to take an inclusive approach to communicating with customers. An example of this can be witnessed in outdoor or sports brands who tell stories about their customers, regardless of their level of fitness or talent. In this way, luxury brands can connect with consumers who are more likely to relate to these stories and feel more attached to the brand.
Marie Claire is a leading clothing designed in the United Kingdom which is famous for celebrating plus-size models. While is only an example of taking an all-inclusive approach, we can see that fashion brands are now more inclined than ever to promote such stories in anticipation of creating a meaningful relationship with consumers.
As you might expect, these are just a few of the most common aspects of PR and marketing which deserve attention and there are many more besides which need to be considered.
Nurturing Relationships with Influencers and Consumers
Speaking of which, arguably the most impactful way to increase awareness and authenticity is through relevant collaboration with fashion or luxury related blogs. Instagram is a great place to start and a platform which garners a lot of traction at this time but influencers who produce a daily website blog are just as effective.
Outfit of the Day – Influencers love content just as much as a luxury brand and there is always a requirement to produce relevant and consistent content. With this in mind, an outfit of the day theme is usually welcomed by influencers and needless to say, this could involve them wearing a product designed by the luxury brand.
Samples and Giveaways – Influencers also enjoy passing free gifts and opportunities to their followers. For this reason, luxury brands can send such items to the influencer free of charge and request that they give some meaningful publicity in return.
Consumer Approval – Although consumers may not have the same following as prominent influencers, this publicity is often more effective. That is to say, consumer testimonials or posts are highly authentic and most likely to be trusted by the general public.
Events and Free Advice – Free resources are an excellent way to build a relationship with potential customers and while they take time, events are an opportunity to gain publicity. Unfortunately, many brands fail to recognize that this is an investment and one which can be a lot more long-lasting than a quick sale.
Creating Community and Trust
Loyal consumers like to be rewarded with reliable products and this is certainly expected with luxury brands. After all, luxury brands are expected to hold themselves accountable and to the highest standards which are part of the premise for stepping into the particular industry.
In time, this reliability will usually evoke a sense of trust with consumers and this is a clear foundation on which to start building a community. As you may know, every concept, product or services is nothing without the customers so this community is always the most potent factor when it comes to establishing a brand in any market.
At the same time, there is also an ethical responsibility in which brands should seek to create this momentum in the most transparent way possible. Trust is earned and should never be taken lightly in any sense, after all when it comes to the point at which a brand may be struggling for one reason or another, this community is often the foundation which will enable the brand to rise again.
As you can see, there are many sides to PR and marketing for fashion and luxury brands. While any strategy is better than no strategy, this is clearly one industry in which only the strongest survive. Furthermore, with so much emphasis being placed on visuals and so much expectation on perceptions, marketing, and advertising is inevitably the most impactful way to communicate with luxury customers.
Either way, there is much to learn but even more to practice when it comes to marketing in this industry and when all is said and done, first impressions are nothing unless a luxury brand continues to demonstrate a perception of superior value to the luxury minded community.