The Anti-Laws Part III: The Last 8 Luxury Marketing Rules

There’s nothing normal or typical about luxury. They intentionally take it to an extreme that invokes desire and dreams. Part II of the anti-laws finally explained why luxury hides their price tags, gradually raise their prices and will never coax a customer into making a purchase on the spot. And if you’re wondering why this post is starting from the number 17, you may want to start at the beginning (which you can find here). Without further ado, ere are the last eight rules:

  1. Cultivate closeness to the arts for initiate. 

Traditional marketing will often turn to music, the more popular it is the better, to create an affective relationship with customers. Logic being, popular music is enjoyed by the masses and thus widening their market reach. The thing with popularity is that it changed frequently, thus the brand has to make adjustments in order to follow the changes. Luxury, conversely, doesn’t follow anyone and prefers to be the curator of taste. It seeks to be creative, bold and different, hence its decision to stay away from popular art. Instead, it gravitates towards art that suggests timelessness such as classic art.

Luxury brands will associate with emerging arts that are an acquired taste or may never achieve mass recognition.

Alternatively, brands will associate with emerging arts that are an acquired taste or may never achieve mass recognition. The luxury brands will partner with these artists for artistic events such as exhibitions and sponsored concerts. The Luxury Strategy give the example of Louis Vuitton sponsoring contemporary music, “for example, bringing the pianist Maurizio Pollini to the Abbaye de Royaumont to perform music by the little-known composer Luigi Nono, rather than by a great such as Mozart or Chopin.”

INSPIRATION 17th century dutch paintings… Valentino FW 2013/14 [Image: Courtesy of Valentino]
  1. Do not relocate your factories. 

Where mass market companies will move their operations to the location with the most sympathy for their bottom line and overheads, luxury brands choose to stay put. They’re ready to foot the bill of staying in a place that is steeped in culture to create that association. They are also careful about outsourcing parts of their production as it means the brand loses control of part of the production process and how the raw material is handled. Whereas they focus on identity, quality, quirks and handmade craftsmanship executed to perfection, an outsourced manufacturer may only be concerned with the mechanical aspect of it and chose to go through the motions. One scenario where they can comfortably delocalise production as a luxury brand is when they’re partnering with known quality materials or skills from another region. Note, they are doing so for quality purposes and not because they’re trying to save a few coins.

[Image: Courtesy of Balenciaga]
  1. Do not hire consultants.

Here’s the thing with consultants. The ‘best practices’ they offer in counsel may work for mass marketing, but would gravely affect pricing power luxury. Consultants will consider two groups when devising your brand’s next move; the customers and competitors. This is due to the fact that consultants are groomed to morph brands into customer-pleasing machines. Notice the two people consultants study are the very two groups that luxury doesn’t pander to? Therefore, the moment a consultant walks through your doors two perceptions cloud the brand. Firstly, that the brand has shifted its focus from quality to pursuing savings or quick profits. Secondly, that the brand has become a follower; sniffing for ideas in other brand’s experiences. Any sign of imitation can be the death of brand identity.

Bottega Veneta Snakeskin Rialto [Image: Courtesy of Bottega Veneta]
 

  1. Do not test. 

This goes back to Luxury’s stance on excluding customer’s taste and influences in their product development process. Mass market often utilises testing to get a sense of their target group’s tastes and preferences. This kind of feedback then helps the firms develop the product so that it can appeal to the masses. Luxury educates the customer, thus they only get to interact with the final product. And let’s face it, that’s how people of a higher income bracket prefer it. Their time is valuable and thus trying to round up a significant number of individuals from a certain level to provide feedback would be an uphill task; if not impossible. But we digress. Involving customers in the development stage hurts their ability to create classics with longevity.

[Image: Courtesy of Rolex / Robin Broadbent]
  1. Do not look for consensus. 

Does luxury market to customers and those well outside its customer base? Sure. But it’s not because it’s seeking to be popular. Its main focus will always be the discerning customer with superior tastes over the mass market offerings. Instead of looking outwards to the customers for direction, luxury brands look internally and have a discussion on the way forward. If the house believes in the next step and rally around it, the can succeed in convincing their customers as well.

[Image: Courtesy of GRAFF]
  1. Do not look after group synergies. 

In business, mergers or acquisition are bound to happen. This is often followed by sweep through by management to create synergy and eradicate redundancies to ensure the entities can operate together. But it’s how management goes about it that will make or break a luxury brand. If you would consider how Ford and Jaguar’s synergy unfolded. The decisions made may have saved some money for the company, but it inevitably lost Jaguar’s pricing power and thus shattered the dream Jaguar had originally established. Then there’s LVMH who has proved that it is to bring luxury brands together under one group and still maintain their individual statuses. Their trick; maintaining each brand’s independence and identity.

Versace Fine Jewellery Collection [Image: Courtesy of Versace]
  1. Do not look for cost reduction. 

While most companies are working to keep their costs down, luxury avoids this approach as cost reduction often leads to compromised quality. Pricing power is not based on cost reduction, nor can it be solely sustained by creativity. Hence the emphasis on added value and feelings of uniqueness. But it’s not only the tops that effect this, but the entire company. Each member of staff plays a part in the value creating process. It could be an artisan who gets an idea that originated on the workshop floor during production. Perhaps it could be a member of the sales staff, whom through their frequent interactions has a clearer understanding of the customers’ dream and has found a way that it marries with the brand identity.

Bulgari B zero1 Ceramic Collection [Image: Courtesy of Bulgari]
  1. Do not sell openly on the Internet. 

The internet has been one of the few inventions that has enabled mass market brands to reach a broader market base. With digital trade comes perks of automated services, quick acquisition, open information sources, price reductions and accessibility, to mention a few. These are all benefits that traditional marketing can prosper from and that’s why so many companies are scrambling to establish a strong online presence. Not quite the same case for Luxury. The internet takes away some of the fundamentals the luxury brands use in their strategy such as swapping the one-on-one customer interaction with automation or replacing the elite club of ‘selected members’ with a group of online anonymous shoppers. Then there’s the internet’s quality of instantaneity. There isn’t any way a brand like Patek Philippe would be considered a brand to be deserved if you could plonk a watch into a virtual cart and buy it within minutes. Time and effort is required to cultivate such desire.

The internet takes away some of the fundamentals the luxury brands use in their strategy such as swapping the one-on-one customer interaction with automation

However, luxury bands haven’t completely dismissed the internet. The brands considered to be supreme luxury use the internet to tell their stories about the individual products and of the brand as a whole. If you go to Patek Philippe’s or Leviev’s websites, you will get information to help you understand each of their products a little better. Philippe even has a wish list that customers can use to store the pieces that inspired the most. However, they can’t actually buy the pieces once you’re done perusing. There are designers that are opting for exclusively online collections which, as some would argue, would become products that aren’t part of the brand’s luxury strategy. But can the luxury world fight the internet forever? According to Wharton experts, ‘purveyors of posh are exploring how to harness the power of online channels in a way that augments their image, their customer service and, ultimately, their profits’.

[Image: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton]

The anti-laws of marketing may be powerful but they do have their limitations. For starters, growth is limited for a brands that adheres to these rules. While the luxury market has grown to include countries like China, it will never be as vast as the mass market. Secondly, it’s a highly demanding management style. But that’s the thing about luxury, it has to be earned to be appreciated. Which rules fascinated you the most? Or perhaps you disagreed with some of them strongly, as antiquated in the face of change? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below. More importantly, let us know whether you think they are applicable to crafting an African luxury brand and why.

 

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