Reaching High-End Customers: A Resource For Luxury Brand Marketing
"Luxury needs to start evolving along with the consumer."
Luxury brands face an interesting marketing predicament. Just like all brands, they struggle to find the right consumer – the ideal audience – and connect with them with the right message, at the right time. But adding another level of complexity to this marketing challenge, the luxury brand audience is smaller, more niche, and arguably harder to reach. In addition, the audiences luxury brands attract are oftentimes not qualified, nor will they ever be, a customer. Luxury brands are positioned as prestigious, a want, not a need, and their advertising still reflects this.
"A lot of advertising still speaks to this old idea of the 'classic rich person,' someone who prefers a deferential tone and speaks of the 'finer things.' The modern luxury consumer is different: They're adaptable, fast-moving, smart yet approachable and have a younger mindset. Luxury should – and can be accessible and aspirational at the same time," shared Shari Jones, Chief Marketing Officer of XOJet, a private jet charter company, in a 2015 interview.
For the brands featuring caviar and champagne in their ads in an attempt to connect with high-end consumers, well, they may have it all wrong!
Like Jones shared, luxury marketing must evolve with its consumer. Marketers must understand what their ideal consumer values, cares about, and finds interesting. Tim Burke, CEO of Affinio, shares that “When our message aligns with what people are already passionate about, we make an emotional connection with people… and that’s when magic happens.” This too applies to luxury brand marketing.
"Marketers have to remember that high-net-worth individuals are human, with a lot of interests and passion points, just like us," says Jones. But marketers are challenged with identifying the passion points of their audience. For Jones, she shared that her company found that the marketing that placed focus on “family and the realities of work travel" were "more compelling than talking about caviar and champagne."
Identifying high-end consumers and uncovering their passion points
How do companies identify what will be compelling to their ideal audience? Some start with methods such as social listening to pick up on vocal interest signals. However, Jones shared that luxury customers don't necessarily engage or voice their opinions on social channels in the way consumers for other brands do. Let's just say you'd be hard-pressed to find someone sharing their latest experience on a private charter online. For the luxury brands relying on consumer-supplied research like listening data, understanding the high-end customer is harder than ever. Instead, luxury brands must rely on data that transcends the vocal audience and can identify the private audience.
Luxury brands must rely on data that transcends the vocal audience and can identify the private audience.
Because these luxury audiences don't engage vocally, but do have a presence online, the alternative to understanding them is through connections. Interest-based segmentation allows us to do just that.
By looking at all of the people who exist within an audience and understand them through their following patterns, we can begin to understand who they are and what they care about, then cluster like-minded individuals together. As an example, we decided to analyze XOJet, and like Jones' suspicion, ~80% of this audience are classified as "lurkers," meaning they do not engage.
Let's say XOJet's ideal audience is the Tech Executives cluster pictured above in the audience visualization. The beauty of Affinio is that we can hone in on this community and tap into the very centre of its culture. We immediately have access to cultural insights such as the interests of the community including the brands, celebrities, societies, and sports they have affinity to; the content they share; the way they self-describe; and the things they like. Immediately I can begin to paint a picture of who this customer is. For luxury brand marketers, this is a cheat sheet to targeting and reaching an audience in an un-intrusive, authentic manner.
Using Affinio, we created the following persona of the Tech Executive.
When marketing to a high-end customer, broad categorization strokes no longer apply. Marketers must treat each audience with different tailored conversations and content. For example, take a look above. Understand who or what influencers the tech executives, what conversations are they engaging in, and what they value most about themselves.
How XOJet positions itself to Tech Executives will differ from how it positions itself to the Entertainment Industry it is also attracting. By understanding who you are attracting, and by taking an audience-first approach, marketers can ensure their marketing strategies are laser-focused and convey what the audience truly wants from the brand.