4 tips to not be H&M online if you are B&O offline (or, The 4 rules of luxury branding in 2021)

Luxury thrives in being elusive as much as digital media flourishes in its accessibility. Branding, hence on this highway of thin ice demands relatability as much as royalty. And this is why luxury labels in the coming decade will need some exclusive strategies to stand out in ways the average brands can’t envisage. Especially when frontrunners like LV & Gucci had already started to spend 50% of their marketing budgets on digital media much before a pandemic forced the rest to.

Facebook’s early penetration saw brands across the pyramid coming to make their presence felt. Slowly in the last five years the more massy ones stayed with it, while the more premium ones navigated towards Instagram. The lesson being the more you populate a medium, the less you can control the narrative and who engages with it. By the mid of 2022, OpenSea would be the same.

Digital branding for luxury brands in the end is a landmine of preserving the gold standard of opulence without taking a snobbish tone (do remember though, internet sentiment ≠ consumer sentiment).

For the elite offerings, these four pointers will help in bringing clarity between good and absolute great:

GO BEYOND CHATBOTS

The average ecommerce welcomes you with a chatbot with all the service offering details that a usual brochure will have. Luxury consumers expect a more delicate touch and personalised tone that only real, impressively trained personnel with a comprehensive background of their client’s niche demands can provide.

A tech savvy, Wayne Manor's Alfred so to speak. Invest heavily in that multilingual, global team, if your customer support is as good as Amazon’s then don’t expect the user to feel like a limited edition Hermès.

Use machine learning to train your team better and arm them with pleasantly surprising insights about your client’s behavior but don’t outsource the whole customer service simply to codes. While it is wonderful for mass scale delight, exquisite nuances for quite a while now can only be manifested by real relationships. The key differentiator being luxury customers would always want to be understood without needing to state the problem like getting all their laundry done without ever missing their favorite shirt in the wardrobe. That proactive thoughtfulness is the premium.

REFINED BEFORE TOPICAL

Golden rule of social media demands pouncing on topical news faster than Wall Street on Hamptons. Precisely why luxurious names should be evermore careful about every word they utter, what can be a bad choice of post for Pizza Hut has the ability to erode Balmain’s years of sophisticated credibility. The tender shoulders on which the 50x cost margin romances. The biggest pie in the market of affluence is brand imagery; preserve it. Netflix’s genre elevating show The Crown breaks the walls of Buckingham and consequently tears apart the velvety royal aura. The delicate balance between transparency and mystique is compromised. Please be fun, however in digital campaigns only share the content that passes all the filter tests of your legacy; that refinement is why your $2500 shoes is a passionate want not a feeble need.

THE PRIESTLY DETAIL

In the 90's a made in Paris label meant something revered, now Miranda Priestly would agree the devil is in the details and not just of Prada’s. In the digital Universe, make your loyal buyers feel rewarded for their choices.

Don’t just keep showing them photoshoot images that even premium brands can conjure with less than half the budget. Federer promotes Rolex and Uniqlo with the same smile. Talk about that thread work which took 114 days to weave, the precise lilac color of the 12th century Queen’s gown your team recreated or the behind the scenes of the nail paint made with real flowers that bloom every 7 years. That’s luxury.

Millennials and Zillennials who buy slow fashion begin to look for things where the logo ends.

PHYGITAL 5.0

By 2025, Bain projects that Millennials will account for 45% of the global personal luxury goods market. Basically brands need to dazzle them in places and ways the average retail brands can’t. They are by far the most hard-to-please target group and await to be wooed more ferociously than a college teenager with millions of Instagram followers.

While launching the Tesla Roadster, if you can have a digital installation inside the Louvre with La Gioconda projected on the driver’s seat or a microsite film directed by James Cameroon ending with a QR code invitation to a trunk show in Persia, then we are talking.

Integrate synergised experiences as your clientele floats from one medium to another, getting more involved and impressed with each. Definitely hire an exclusive team handling AR & VR installations in all old showrooms and place some new ones in historically important venues like Seville’s iconic Royal Alcázar. It will create an intimate experience from intuitive shopping assist to personal messages from celebrities in a way only you can afford, Target or Costco can’t with their scales. The one off New Year campaign of their flagship store can and should very well be your everyday benchmarking. Especially with NFTs soon entering the fashion industry in a big way, just physical planning would set you back by two decades in two years.

The bottom-line is, in splurge identity, relevance is always before relatable. Plan every nuance, after all in the 2020s, pure luxury remains the only category where the currency of legacy still matters.