In the eyes of many, ‘luxury’ and ‘exclusivity’ are synonymous when it comes to branding. A large number of the luxury brands maintain their status purely because of their exclusivity, ensuring their products are coveted by many and owned by a few through prohibitive pricing and limited edition rollouts. Generally speaking, people want what others can’t and don’t have. As important as status may be to the brands themselves, it’s equally important to luxury consumers. However, with disposable income, accessibility, and brand awareness on the rise, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for brands to maintain exclusivity. The constant push and pull of popularity versus exclusivity has many brands rethinking their marketing strategies.
Building an effective marketing strategy for a luxury retail brand is not always easy. While social media encourages accessibility, luxury brands tend to thrive on maintaining their exclusive status – constantly reaffirming their position as an elite, aspirational force to be reckoned with. However, nothing conjures up a fantasy like quality and immersive content. Let’s examine how luxury brands can use email marketing to effectively lead with exclusivity and keep high-end consumers coming back for more. And we’ll discuss how to scale the exclusivity model to fit any business, using limited edition runs as a balance to discounting.
Pull customers into an exclusive circle
Mass brands define who their customers are and push products towards them. For luxury brands, the roles are reversed. Consumers must be pulled towards the brand with the promise of belonging to an exclusive community. Many consumers may want access to this circle, but only a select few who truly share the brand beliefs can really belong.
To this end, luxury brands should create artificial barriers or initiation rituals to select which customers gain admittance. If a customer wants to buy a premium Apple product, all they have to do is pay the price. But many luxury brands steer customers to form a long-term and intimate bond with the brand if they want to be offered the opportunity to buy one of the manufacturer’s “limited edition” products. Rather than putting customers off, this behavior creates a sense of inclusion in an elite club. Customers stay loyal and are rewarded for it.
Posing calls to action as an invitation into the circle is a powerful email marketing tool. By making customers jump through some initiation hoops, brands are able to establish a segmented audience that’s self-selecting. Essentially, if your customers want access to exclusive products before the general public, they’ll do whatever is necessary to gain that access.
Give your customers a voice
Consumers love to show off their high-end products – the elite status they’ve achieved gives them an overwhelming sense of pride. Many luxury brands have successfully given their customers a forum to do so. And in return, these customers increase brand awareness. Social media is a powerful tool for this type of engagement.
In 2013, Jaguar launched #MyTurnToJag, which called upon consumers to state why they should win an opportunity to test drive the brand new F-TYPE convertible. The campaign lived primarily within a Facebook page comprised of posts, tweets, and Instagram photos, proving that Jaguar has an avid fan base willing to endorse the brand publicly.
At the end of 2014, the brand launched Why Jaguar, a section of its site detailing its car models and customer photos and reviews. The luxury car dealer asked users to submit photos and reviews, which were then displayed on its website.
While not a direct sales tactic, a call for customer participation, such as this, keeps your audience involved and puts the consumer in the spotlight. Accessibility through social media can fuel the fire for inclusion. Jaguar was able to humanize their brand and increase awareness with an opportunity for a test drive. That’s powerful marketing.
The luxury retail space relies heavily on the customer’s perception of exclusivity. Newsletters are a great way to heighten this perception. Luxury brands should offer exclusive promotions and sneak-peeks to high-end consumers. Strategic email marketing can provide valuable insight into a brand’s newest products and upcoming promotions, and build upon the perception of exclusivity. Consumers should feel like they are one of the select few to know about a brand’s new endeavors before they’re rolled out to the general public.
In keeping with exclusive content, “behind-the-scenes” content is another powerful tool brands can include in their email marketing strategy. On The Window, the branded content hub for Barneys New York, readers are given a behind-the-scenes look at their favorite designers. They are taken into designers’ worlds, and learn about the inspiration behind the clothes and jewelry they wear.
In an article and video on the site about ring designer Yves Spinelli, the audience is shown how Spinelli comes up with his designs and what they symbolize. Instead of seeing just a ring, they can discover the effort and thought behind it and appreciate it more. At the end of the post, the audience can also “shop the story” and buy a Spinelli ring. This is a prime example of a creative call to action. Present exclusive content. Tell a story. Include the consumer in the story.
Exclusivity to scale
You don’t have to be a big luxury brand to employ the exclusivity model. In the previous installment in this series, we discussed ways in which effective discounting can impact sales. As a balance, creating exclusivity can do the same. No matter the size or nature of your business, implementing limited edition runs of a product can invoke the incessant need consumers have to get it before it’s gone. Offering limited colors and quantities, and even a limited edition of a particular style of product, will create a sense of urgency in your audience.
Another tactic to think about is actually numbering the products to embody the true nature of a limited edition. If you’re releasing 100 shirts, including ‘1 of 100’ on the labeling or in an email confirmation can make your customer feel like part of something special.
Digital marketing is your ‘secret’ weapon
Let’s take a look inside a digital marketer’s toolbox. First, we find email marketing. Email campaigns should be considered in the context of long-term relationships. There must be a reciprocal feeling of value. Each email is another page in the storybook, and the idea is to keep your customers reading. In the luxury space, the minute consumers feel the exclusivity of your brand fading, or that there are too many people joining the club, they begin drifting.
By creating artificial barriers and initiation rituals, consumers form self-selecting inner circles that become your elite segment. Providing exclusive content to this audience keeps them interested and makes them feel like they’re in the know. Luxury email marketing can be most effective when it reads as if you’re sharing a secret with the consumer. They want to hear it first.
Regardless of the brand, exclusivity requires precision. Mastering email marketing, pay-per-click, and social media advertising will keep your approach surgical. Creativity, research, and a sound digital marketing strategy can make anything feel exclusive – even a brick. Just ask Supreme.