Luxury brands have been slow on the uptake in terms of embracing digital marketing techniques.
But with high-street competitors offering cheaper alternatives and connecting powerfully with customers on social media, firms who fail to engage effectively with the digital generation run the risk of becoming obsolete.
Here’s how some select heritage brands have adopted digital marketing techniques to remain relevant and capture the next generation of high-end customers.
Marketing an air of exclusivity through modern digital communication can pose a challenge.
And well-established luxury brands are comfortable with broadcasting with an authoritative voice from on high — but not necessarily with adapting to the more interactive conversational tone suited to social media.
In the 1990s Burberry faced an identity crisis when their trademark tartan was favored by urban youths the tabloid press rather cruelly christened ‘chavs’ in the UK.
But CEO Angela Ahrendts embraced social media, a digital Point of Sale System and experiential retail to synchronize their brand for the digital generation.And Burberry reclaimed its catwalk credentials.
The brand had an excellent Facebook presence by 2009 and utilized livestream technology to allow customers in-store to experience catwalk premieres and product launches — bringing red carpet glamor to the masses.
Burberry is a great example of a company who used digital innovation to rescue their brand from the basement and restore it to its natural position.
Bentley naturally targets a high-income audience. But it’s embraced digital technology in innovative ways to move with the times.
Their website allows customers to take a virtual world tour in the cockpit of one of their luxury models — the next best thing to a real test drive.
They’ve also developed the Bentley ‘Inspirator’ — a personalization app that analyses customers’ facial and emotional reactions, then recommends the perfect personalized car, color, and interior.
Their recent ‘look closer’ campaign used bleeding-edge photo tech to create a marketing image that can be zoomed-in to minute detail.
Viewers swoop down from an aerial view of the Golden Gate Bridge to the new Bentley Mulsanne — right to the crest stitched into the headrest.
So Bentley’s products and price range have remained in the same bracket — but the brand has adapted its marketing methods to reach valuable customers who love the convenience of browsing on devices in their homes and offices.
Chanel is one old-school haute couture brand that’s mastered YouTube and extended their global reach to half a million subscribers and 100 million viewers.
A current brand valuation of $7.2 billion is thanks in part to trading on the digital currency of ads featuring brand icons Marilyn Monroe and Giselle Bundchen.
The Chanel website also perfectly captures the elegance of the iconic brand for the digital age — merging traditional messages with the interactivity modern consumers expect.
Abandoning references to the brand’s status as a cultural icon would have been unwise. So Chanel stuck to a winning formula but adapted their marketing techniques to retain future generations of consumers that they’re parting with cash to invest in the history of high fashion.
Staying on top
The previous lack of competition in niche markets caught established brands resting on their luxurious laurels.
In the automotive industry, marques like Bentley, Mercedes and BMW went unchallenged — but relative newcomers like Lexus proved that no niche is impenetrable.
And when brands like AX Paris can offer summer party dresses with catwalk chic at a relative snip, big hitters like Chanel must adapt to remind audiences what makes them special.
Traditional brands needn’t abandon the unique selling points they’ve earned for aeons —but if they don’t adapt marketing methods to the digital age they’ll be consigned to the history books.
Which luxury brands do you think embrace digital marketing successfully? Share your stories in the comments below.