Posted at Jul 27, 2022 2:46:00 PM by THAT Agency | Share
There are brands that scream: Look at me! Look at me! I am expensive. I am high-end. The person wearing, toting, and using me is exceptionally discerning and sophisticated! And… look at me!
When we see them carrying their Gucci handbag, striding in their Louboutins, or toting their Louis Vuitton travel bag, we know. We get the message loud and clear.
And then there are brands that whisper simply: If you know me, you know me.
There has been a marked shift, accelerated in the last few years, towards an unobtrusive – quieter – approach to luxury. As Wharton School professor and internationally recognized authority on consumer behavior Jonah Berger says, his studies show that “the educated elite [show a significant preference] for discreetly marked products, subtle but distinct styles, or high-end brands that fly under the radar” and provide greater longevity than their “more blatant counterparts.”
Niche luxury brands have been taking the world by storm… in their patented “under the radar” way, appealing to upper-class consumers who prefer subtlety and discretion rather than a “LOOK AT ME” energy.
But this brings up an important question: how do brands that make it a practice to be inconspicuous approach promotion? Niche luxury brand marketing involves the same principles as the products they create. Quality over quantity. Quiet over the noise. Experience over possessions. Memories over materialism. And there is a great deal that other brands can learn.
What Is a Niche Luxury Brand?
Let’s define what we mean when we discuss a “niche luxury brand.”
It is a brand that offers unique symbolic value to a highly selective audience that is focused on quality and status over price. A niche brand does not try to be all things to all people; rather, it seeks to be everything to a specific clientele in its space. In other words, this audience is not buying a product; they are buying into a lifestyle, a differentiator that separates them from the brand-chasers among us.
Luo Yihan, for example, is an LA art student who developed a taste for handbags from Coach, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors. However, she lost interest. Instead, she found a niche brand (Vanina). “I feel special when I use it. I like that it doesn't have any big luxury logos and that I can catch people’s attention with it just by being unique.” And by “people,” she is undoubtedly referring to Johan Berger’s “educated elite.” The art and fashion students and professionals, the designers, the millionaires, the billionaires. The discerning.
Niche Luxury Brand Marketing
What is a niche luxury brand? At its core, it is a brand that is effortless in its elegance, quality, value, and appeal. That said, marketing is not necessarily as effortless! It takes careful consideration and strategic thinking, and planning to find your audience and let them know that you are the unique solution to which they aspire.
To this end:
Prioritize Quality Over Quantity
Luo Yihan inadvertently provides the key to niche luxury brand marketing. She feels special when using her handbag. She doesn’t want loud and blatant; she wants unique. Niche luxury brands do not deluge their audience with products and messages. They are not looking for a warehouse, and they very likely already know what they would like to buy from you.
Create image boards, blog entries, and feature testimonials that center around or evolve from your select products. And remember, you are seeking to create an emotional connection. According to research: “emotionally-driven brand experiences influenced the consumers' brand loyalty the most… brand experience is highly valued when paired with consumers’ emotions, which leads to influences towards the consumers’ attitudes.”
So it’s not the leather or the stitching so much; for example, it’s the feeling that elite consumers experience when using the exclusive product. Emphasize this in targeted messages.
Deliver the Personal Touch
Niche luxury brand marketing is also, by almost its very definition, greatly personalized. Again, to use that term, the “educated elite” expect a high level of service. For your best customers and particularly for high-end luxury items produced in limited numbers, dedicate a live person to communication and follow-up. This person will manage relationships with your most valuable customers. As always, it is about the experience. When they enjoy service that is tailored to them, it enhances that sense of exclusivity and of brand loyalty.
For larger batch items, live chat and other automated solutions will work; just be sure that these communications are seamless, helpful, and, if necessary, supported or followed up with live representatives.
Forget the Influencer: Seek the Genuinfluencer
The rise of influencer culture has been astonishing… but we’re over it. A mere 3% of consumers are actually influenced by influencers when it comes to purchasing decisions. Consumers, the most educated in history, tend to skip past glossy, glam yet same-old-same-old content from celebs and pseudo-celebs touting whatever brand just paid them. It comes across as inauthentic and disingenuous, which is a death knell for brands, particularly in the niche luxury space. And, it certainly does not help that studies have found some instances where as much as 70% of some influencers’ followers are fake.
In 2022 and beyond, we will see far more promise from geninfluencers. These are experts in their space – whether fashion, beauty, art, style, design, etc. – and they create and share content that values quality over quantity. They are more interested in communicating their thought leadership, ideas, and opinions honestly and transparently than they are in amassing mind-boggling numbers of followers.
In other words, geninfluencers approach their work the same way niche luxury brands do: they are concerned with delivering quality for their audience. And their audience is equally invested in consuming this “product,” in this case, content.
Connecting with a geninfulencer is far more powerful than paying an “internet famous” individual to hock your product. Whereas one cheapens your brand, the other elevates it.
Tell Your Story
At the heart of niche luxury brand marketing is a story. Customers aren’t simply buying handbags, clothing, shoes, luggage, or jewelry. They want an experience. Use Stories to connect.
Stories offer a dynamic way to highlight specific and spontaneous connection points. “Over 300 million users actively engage with Instagram stories each day, and one-third of the most viewed stories are from consumer brands.”
Remember that luxury items are not needed. They're preferred. This leads them closer to the category of impulse buying. A great deal of the luxury involved with them is that the purchaser can afford such impulse buys. Show your customers attention and don't rush them, but make sure everything they see will be perceived as worthwhile. Filler and delay are just opportunities to reconsider a purchase or think about whether your competitor is faster and more streamlined.
It's a fine balance, so remember to iterate on what works and build on your best and most effective concepts
The Power of Quiet
Some brands scream. If yours whispers a promise of exclusivity, status, and prestige, your marketing techniques will reflect the needs of your clientele.