American Marketer


Is subconscious commerce the future for luxury brands?

March 20, 2018

Sue Seel is a professional academic and brand consultant Sue Seel is a professional academic and brand consultant


By Sue Seel

As high-earning consumers continue to be digitally engaged and millennial luxury consumers grow, the use of digital marketing is now an essential tool in luxury branding.

The struggle, however, is creating beautifully crafted and user-friendly applications that can deliver both rich content, exclusive services and continued future thinking. These customer-centric designs must inspire as well as enhance existing luxury lifestyles in unique ways.

On point
Today’s luxury consumers demand levels of customer service and convenience so extreme that it is fast becoming difficult to distinguish between the start of product discovery, purchase moment and the private life of the shopper.

As a brand’s touch points draw ever closer to consumers’ day-to-day experiences, luxury brands must deliver intimacy and responsiveness to an exceptional standard, as well as all the luxury values important to their customers. There must be no time constraints and wherever you are, the brand needs to be.

An integrated omnichannel model can undoubtedly build wider brand reach and brand loyalty with richer customer insight from data.

However, regardless of whether omnichannel and mobile applications are the right choice, selling the dream is still a pre-requisite for any luxury brand.

The most successful luxury brands will be those that can build a compelling mobile presence that engages and influences consumers through targeted use of social media and focuses on presenting curated brand moments rather than the just experiential marketing.

With the rise of social media, Internet and new technologies, luxury shoppers rely more on their smartphones, whether they are commuting, dining, traveling, shopping or simply relaxing.

Consumers are looking for more convenience and a greater degree of personalized experience. The standards are higher, and with the rise of concierge service, luxury needs to exist when researching, purchasing and at every stage of engagement with the brand.

Every luxury brand must convey the message of exclusivity, so perhaps choosing to work with its consumers maybe essential if a unique customer purchase journey is to be achieved and brands become an integral part of the life.

To develop strategy on mobile, the focus must always be on value, loyalty and innovation, rather than just a pure sales conversion.

Tip top
Here are some tips for great strategy:

  • Focus on the loyal consumer first. What do they want from your brand? How do they currently engage with your brand?
  • Private events should be for customers as well as celebrities. Your core luxury shopper requires his or her own celebrity status to stay loyal
  • Will membership options deliver added value and help with data collection, together with unique tailor-made services?
  • Global luxury with localized offering. Do not be afraid to curate brand moments in every relevant city
  • Mobile apps should be positioned as exclusive clubs for those with spending capacity. Look to the airlines for inspiration on physical spaces or physical-digital benefits
  • Collaborate with other luxury sectors to ensure that you are present in other lifestyle areas. Consider the artists commissioned for Rolls-Royce interiors. The future is the merging of luxury concepts, rather than segmenting luxury categories
  • Most importantly, avoid thinking that digital creates democratization. Luxury consumers are the most advanced digital thinkers. In technology terms, frustrated luxury shoppers often find yacht design obsolete by the time manufacture is complete. These are the consumers who require future thinking.

TAKE A MOBILE APP such as The Finery that appears to be working on presenting a wardrobe solution for every successful woman. This wardrobe operating system, having just received investment from Farfetch, could eventually provide luxury fashion houses with the perfect insight into the wardrobes of target customers.

This will no doubt present an opportunity to add value without any purchase intention. Surely this is the future of luxury shopping?

Sue Seel is a London-based professional academic and brand consultant. Reach her at