PR and Marketing is 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. At the same time, the higher expectations online in general have demanded a much greater effort from brands. In fact, any modern business strategy is almost certain to fail without smart PR and marketing. 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. We’ll focus on some specific examples of brands which thrive and what they do in the face of this increasingly competitive market:
We will look at:
- Introduction to marketing for fashion and luxury brands
- Why is marketing different?
- Defining a suitable niche
- Establishing a marketing strategy
- Tips and common concepts
- Nurturing relationships with customers and influencers
- Creating community and trust
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 generate a positive perception to potential customers. The best way to do this is through public relations and marketing.
After all, the luxury customer is notoriously hard to attract and doing this requires an especially consistent effort in terms of maintaining a meaningful relationship. Furthermore, expectations are always much higher for luxury brands. In this industry, first impressions are meaningless unless the brand can continue to demonstrate a perception of superior value.
In many ways, perception will 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. In addition, 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, meeting the higher expectations in this industry demands a more thoughtful approach. 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 which creates the perception of a significant amount of value.
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, they should have a reasonably clear idea of the characteristics and needs of the target market. In fact, to merely identify the customer as “luxury-minded” is not enough. 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. Not only will research provide information about 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. With a well defined niche, the implementation of PR campaigns get even easier. This is because it then becomes easy to target the right journalists for this campaign.
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. Even so, there should always be a clear and concise marketing strategy to ensure nothing goes to waste during the process.
Having said this, few brands manage to fully grasp the general importance of strategy. Some brands even think of this effort as optional rather than a pillar of success. After all, if your product is good, then it should sell itself, right? Unfortunately not. This is a common misconception – even the best luxury brands need a good marketing strategy.
A business plan geared towards addressing the marketing channel of the business has to be treated as critical to the success of the company.
Using emotions to help people connect with luxury brands
Steve Jobs and Apple is the perfect example of 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. When a few celebrities, tech media, and tech personalities made the brand a part of their lifestyle, they put Apple above every other tech company.
However, as we can see with the famous models and icons, this luxury strategy is much more common in the world of fashion. You will notice a lot of times we have people like the former First Lady Michelle Obama, actors like Lupita Nyong’o, musicians like Rihanna and Lady Gaga being used to market specific fashion brands. This is because when such valued celebrities adorn a particular brand, its perceived value goes up.
Partnering with celebrities tends to be an effective strategy because they give the brand a unique personality. By making someone famous the face of your brand, you humanize your brand and build an emotional connection with potential consumers. This strategy encourages the public to purchase your products because they want to emulate their favourite star.
Tips for Marketing Luxury Brands
Here are some of the most important aspects of marketing for luxury brands and fashion to consider when establishing the most effective strategy possible:
1. 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.
Another example, the OnePlus brand of mobile phones were initially only available by invitation after the company launched in 2013. What that created was a perceived lack of supply and due to the coverage received about this way of selling phones, the company created a lot of demand. People ordered for their phones by invitation only, giving the company lots of money to fulfill orders in advance. People did not have an issue waiting for two to three months to receive their phones. The company is now one of the biggest brands around despite its short period of time in the business.
2. Telling the Story Behind the Brand
Failing to nurture a relationship with customers is one of the major downfalls for luxury brands. Communicating with the customer is one of the effective ways of building a relationship with them. Luxury brands which understand their customers’ needs and wants are more likely to produce products which appeal to the same customers.
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 comes to their ethical beliefs. It should also be known that Instagram and Facebook are effective visual mediums through which to communicate a brand’s values. You can do that through Facebook or Instagram ads which tell your company’s story to a wider audience.
Gabrielle Chanel opened her first store at the age of 21 and grew Chanel into one of the largest luxury brands in the world. Since then 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.
At Pressfarm, we make sure all our clients understand the power that storytelling has to secure media coverage. Instead of attempting to pitch how your product is amazing, how about pitching to journalists why your fashion brand was created and what it does differently? Good PR focuses more on the stories behind the product than it does on selling the product itself. PR is about brand awareness and image. You create a great story so that you can get more attention from the media. Eventually, the publicity to earn will boost your sales, but stories move people to make the purchase.
3. Using Organic Strategies
As mentioned above, certain PR and marketing tactics are often ignored in the process of establishing a brand. Organic marketing is certainly one of these. Organic marketing for a luxury brand usually comes in the form of stories from affiliates of the brand. In the case of the world famous Nike, the sports brand has always used known athletes to give credibility and personality to their shoes or clothing. In time, these stories shape the personality of 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 do organic marketing as they are providing an insight into the people behind the brand, as well as the product or service being promoted. It creates a certain sense of openness and transparency that is really attractive to customers.
4. Employing Sensory Branding
Visuals are almost everything for a luxury brand. High-end packaging and special features are known to attract more attention from potential customers. When customers finally make a purchase, they are likely to feel privileged to have these products as well as the status that comes with being associated with the 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. This is part of a unique sensory experience that the brands wish to convey. Such stores include Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, and Prada.
5. Creating an Online Presence
If you walk into a perfume store and a particular luxury brand is not clearly displayed, the customer is unlikely to miraculously bump into this brand. 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 no online presence. Indeed, product placement is just as important online. This is achieved through blogs, videos and other forms of content marketing including paid advertisements.
If you want your luxury brand to be visible, then maintaining an active online presence is crucial. Burberry is a prime example of a fashion brand which has fully embraced the online world. You can find live fashion shows and interviews on their website as well as an interactive buying experience for a full range of luxury goods. Their ads are running constantly on Facebook and Google Ads. Wherever you go online, you’re likely yo bump into Burberry.
If you expect your customers to find you, rather than the other way round, you will be disappointed. After all, you want your marketing efforts to reach the right audience. For this reason, it’s important to research your target audience and find out where they spend their time. Once you know this, find out what their pain points are. With this information, you can go to them and speak to them in a language they understand. Your PR and marketing strategies will be far more effective if you know where to find your audience and how to engage with them.
6. 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 an 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.
7. Making the Most of Luxury Names
One of the most important aspects of a luxury brand is the name. After all, customers associate certain emotions with brand names and this is most often positive in the case of a luxury brand. Recent studies show that luxury products are usually purchased on emotion as opposed to pricing. The names of these luxury brands are usually at the forefront of the customer’s mind. Due the brand name 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. The same thing goes for tech companies like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Google. These companies already have customers who are loyal to their brands. For instance, it is very unlikely that a customer who sets out to purchase an iPhone can be convinced otherwise.
8. Maintaining Traditional Marketing
Since everything seems to be online nowadays, this has left somewhat of a void in traditional marketing and advertising. With so many businesses rushing to create an online presence using 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.
9. Using Social Media to Advance
Nurturing relationships is also a great opportunity to understand the wants and needs of customers. By asking questions and answering inquiries, luxury and fashion brands can identify the values, qualities, and characteristics associated with their customers. This information can then inform future PR and marketing strategies.
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 to interact with customers who can then leave feedback on any aspect of the products, services or even the store layout.
10. 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 this is only one example of taking an all-inclusive approach, we can see that fashion brands are now more inclined than ever to promote diversity in anticipation of creating a meaningful relationship with consumers.
Nurturing Relationships with Influencers and Consumers
One of the most impactful ways 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. Influencers who produce a daily blog are also 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 brand in question.
Samples and Giveaways – Influencers also enjoy passing free gifts and opportunities to their followers. For this reason, fashion and luxury brands can send such items to the influencers 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 investment 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 fashion brands. After all, fashion and luxury brands are expected to hold themselves accountable 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. Every concept, product or service 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.
There are many sides to PR and marketing for fashion and luxury companies. While any strategy is better than no strategy, this is clearly one industry in which only the strongest survive. Furthermore, so much emphasis is placed on visuals and so much expectation on perceptions, marketing, and advertising. These are inevitably the most impactful ways to communicate with luxury and fashion customers.
Either way, there is much to learn but even more to practice when it comes to marketing in this industry. 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.
Pressfarm delights in working with newly formed fashion, luxury, and eCommerce companies. Our main goal as a PR agency is to create memorable stories on behalf of your brand to get it seen in media outlets around the world. In addition, with our extensive media database, you can pitch your story to over 75,000 journalists across different industries and niches. If you have a fashion, eCommerce or luxury brand that you are trying to get seen, don’t hesitate to reach out. We would be happy to help.