American Marketer


4 myths about luxury marketing

July 25, 2013

Raquel Cadourcy is senior account director for luxury marketing at ePrize


By Raquel Cadourcy

Luxury shoppers are a highly lucrative, yet complicated demographic to capture.

On the surface, they may seem uninterested in marketing efforts, aloof to SMS campaigns, apathetic to social media interaction, and “above” promotions.

Because of their elusive nature, marketers may find it difficult to engage with these shoppers, especially on digital and mobile.

The truth, however, is that these notions are largely unfounded, leading to a string of myths that intimidate brand marketers.

Let us break down the top four myths of the enigmatic luxury shopper to aid marketers in better targeting this affluent demographic:

Myth 1: Promotions are seen as a negative among these consumers
Affluent shoppers value exclusivity and stature.

For people to whom money is of little concern, offering an opportunity to give these customers an experience they could not have otherwise obtained is the most effective and satisfying means of a digital engagement program.

Promotion does not have to mean discount or giveaway. Instead, it is a chance for a brand marketer to gift a valued customer a unique experience to interact with the brand in a new medium.

Jaguar recently introduced a digital marketing campaign for the launch of its F-Type centered on a strong social and mobile presence.

The car brand wanted to create a disruptive campaign that stirred conversation around the new F-Type, thriving on word-of-mouth marketing.

To do this, Jaguar created a contest for applicants to win the “test drive of a lifetime” with a preview ride of the brand new car.

Fans were encouraged to submit a story using the hashtag #MyTurnToJag, to be chosen as one of four select winners for this exclusive test-driving opportunity.

The brand’s primary goal with #MyTurnToJag was to fuel fan conversation about the new F-Type model. And to this extent, the marketing strategy was a huge success.

Campaign engagement was through the roof. Jaguar was able to break through the noise to offer fans an engaging and disruptive marketing strategy, as well as a unique prize that no money could buy.

Myth 2: Luxury shoppers do not turn to mobile on the path to purchase
It is easy to generalize that all affluent shoppers make purchases in the traditional way: by visiting their favorite luxury department store, walking out with their hands filled with bags and boxes, and the shopping excursion is over.

On the contrary, especially when examining the millennial-shopping generation, data shows that mobile usage is on the rise. And it is heavily affecting the path to purchase before a consumer even sets foot in the store.

Deloitte data shares that 48 percent of all U.S. consumers own a smartphone, with the number quickly rising.

Moreover, 58 percent of consumers who own a smartphone have used it for store-related shopping.

And although presently only 5 percent of all in-store retail sales are influenced by mobile, this percentage is equivalent more than $159 billion in sales, with the percentage of influence planned to steadily increase moving into 2013 and beyond.

With the accelerated usage of smartphones and tablets, the pressure is on retailers to engage their customers on this important channel.

Christian Louboutin has leveraged its mobile application presence to better engage with clientele.

The app is filled with interactive areas to drive engagement and aid in the purchasing process.

Users, for example, enter a homepage where they browse seasonal shoe collections through an interactive “scratch and reveal” game. They can also use the app to create wish lists and share style ideas with their social networks.

Integrating SMS messaging – which has an average open rate of 97 percent – and mobile push-notifications, as well as augmented reality capabilities, are also great ways for luxury brands to extend interaction to customers beyond simple advertisements.

By effectively marketing on mobile devices, luxury brands will meet shoppers on their own terms and offer product availability and store information that is relevant and desired.

Myth 3: Luxury shoppers do not have time for social
Luxury shoppers actually have a strong social media presence.

A LinkedIn report claimed that nine out of 10 affluent shoppers have used social media in the past year (87 percent), with 72 percent turning to Facebook and 27 percent using Twitter.

Report findings also demonstrate that affluent individuals are using these channels not only for personal socializing, but as a means of discovery and consideration – where nearly two in three are driven to action based on said discovery.

Because of this visibility, brand marketers now have the duty to create engaging content via social channels.

Social engagement offers an incredible opportunity for brands to create a direct dialogue with an individual without the need for advertising.

Footwear label Brian Atwood created an Instagram campaign where followers submitted photos via Instagram hashtagging #ShoeLover for a chance to win a pair of Brian Atwood shoes.

Social engagement for the brand skyrocketed, with more than 600 entries and 62,000 hashtagged photos.

Retailers are taking this form of social media engagement to the next level, with brands such as Michael Kors and David Yurman showcasing users' Instagram images on their Web sites and socially.

This user-generated content not only offers strong brand advocacy, but also empowers brand followers to feel more connected and engaged with their favorite luxury brands.

Myth 4: Luxury shoppers do not care about loyalty programs
Even though affluent shoppers are not typically driven by discounts, they are intrigued by opportunities that money cannot necessarily buy.

Brands offering exclusive experiences that are memorable and powerful certainly have the opportunity to drive loyalty.

Volvo is a great example of a luxury brand that has taken loyalty to new heights with its Overseas Delivery Program, which grants any buyer of a new Volvo two free, round-trip tickets to Scandinavia to pick up their Volvo from the factory in Sweden and drive the countryside in their new vehicle before it is shipped back to the States.

This one-of-a-kind travel experience offers Volvo owners an intimate look at the brand’s headquarters, allows them to get behind-the-lens at the brand’s personality, and creates an emotional bond between brand and consumer – not to mention the vacation of a lifetime.

Tailoring engagement to the luxury demographic
Luxury shoppers place a white-glove shopping experience on a pedestal. They value personalized attention, stature and exclusivity.

For these reasons, it is imperative that luxury marketers incorporate highly relevant content and personalized engagement via digital, mobile and social channels.

These channels are less about discounts, promotions and special deals, and are instead a means by which retailers give fans and shoppers intimate access to your brand.

Raquel Cadourcy is New York-based senior account director for luxury marketing at ePrize. Reach her at