Luxury sector content marketing: luxury brands have learned to take advantage of the opportunities created by new technologies and have become extremely effective in using the tools available to tell their stories. Through content, produced independently or generated by others (consumers and influencers) and distributed on different digital channels, luxury brands are now able to build an imagery that corresponds authentically to the changing desires of their customers. In this post, we will talk about how, despite the continuous evolution of the economic, social, and cultural landscape, luxury brands are always able to represent themselves as content producers, successfully using typically editorial skills to achieve their business goals.
Before delving deeper into the aspects of content marketing in the luxury sector, it may be useful to have a general understanding of some concepts and the main trends impacting it.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a strategic approach that involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content for a clearly defined target audience. It is widely used by companies of all sizes to create brand awareness, to attract and retain customers, and ultimately to promote actions that are truly profitable. What distinguishes this form of marketing from traditional marketing techniques is the relevance of the consumer, which translates into a continuous effort to adapt content to the needs and interests of a specific target audience (contentmarketinginstitute.com).
Content is King: is this still true?
Put another way: in the face of evolving digital tools, is content marketing still an integral and indispensable part of any global digital marketing plan? Does content still allow the value (a symbolic, commercial, and economic value) of the resources on the web, allowing those with skills and imagination to advance the internet as a market of ideas — a market of content, in fact — as well as of experiences and products?
Some evidence provides positive answers to these questions, confirming what Bill Gates predicted at the dawn of the digital age (web.archive.org).
1. Adoption. According to The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2020 by Hubspot, 70% of marketing experts are actively investing in content marketing and nearly 40% say content marketing is a very important part of their overall strategy.
2. Strategy. A recent SEMrush survey shows that:
- the most searched query in 2019 was “content marketing strategy”;
- 77% of respondents said they have developed a specific strategy for the management, production, and distribution of content.
3. Images. In 2019, formats that involve the production and use of photo and video content, especially on social media platforms (statista.com), were widely and effectively used.
4. User generated content. Directly sponsored serial content often leads to a more negative attitude towards the brand than the use of content marketing actions. Although coming directly from the company, content marketing is perceived as more organic, “authentic”, assimilating its content to user-generated content (Johannes Müller, Content is King – But Who is the King of Kings? The Effect of Content Marketing, Sponsored Content & User-Generated Content on Brand Responses).
5. Inbound. A content-focused approach is central to any Inbound marketing strategy because it allows you to create truly useful, tailor-made content, make connections between brands and people, particularly those within a given target audience, and help them focus on even as-yet undefined needs and find and manage solutions to their problems.
A content marketing strategy therefore still contributes, in a decisive way, to achieving a series of important business objectives, such as:
- involving buyer personas,
- qualifying and converting leads,
- increasing brand awareness
- connecting the brand to the target audience.
On the other hand, two current trends that concern the trust and attention of users/consumers, can if not adequately countered, erode the potential of a content-focused approach.
- Trust. The Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report identified that 73% of individuals are concerned about possible misuse of false information. The concern is that fake news may increasingly be used as “weapons of misinformation,” thereby undermining collective trust in the communication of public and private organizations.
- Attention. A new study conducted by a team of European scientists from the Technische Universität Berlin and published in Nature Communications, found that our capacity for collective attention is shrinking and that this effect is impacting not only on social media but also other cultural contexts, involving all media: books, web research, film popularity, and more (eurekalert.org).
Luxury sector content marketing: trends and perspectives
The trends highlighted so far refer to the transformations that all digital marketers are called to face, regardless of the markets in which they operate. In the case of the luxury sector, there are additional factors to be taken into account to be able to redesign content and establish an effective content marketing strategy.
1. The target audience
Luxury brands are aimed at a highly defined and specific audience:
- that has a high spending capacity (HNWI, High-net-worth individual and ultra-HNWI, ultra- High-net-worth individual);
- uses the Internet and mobile applications daily;
- has three or more digital devices (pwc.com).
2. A new consumer segment: HENRYs
In an era of rapidly changing trends, luxury companies have begun to keep an eye on a new class of consumers that is growing every day and will become increasingly relevant in the future: the HENRYs (High-Earners-Not-Rich-Yet). These are the “customers of the future”, on whom brands are focusing most of their investments. The goal is to engage and retain Millennials and Gen Z. These new generations tend to be technology experts and are looking for the most valuable of what digitization has to offer: rich and meaningful shopping experiences where the relationship with the brand is customized and online, and offline touchpoints can be seamlessly operated (deloitte.com).
3. Data-driven strategies
Intercepting, understanding, and anticipating consumer demand has become central to luxury business models. However, in order to develop customized approaches and build a better and more fluid customer experience, it is necessary to collect relevant and increasingly accurate data. For this reason, to be able to offer truly personalized paths, luxury brand marketing has decided to rely on the most advanced technologies (for example, Artificial Intelligence) that involves the use and analysis of Big Data. In this way companies, because they can count on more precise profiling, are able to involve customers in a more punctual way. Campaign data, both past and present, can also help marketing to identify reasons for friction throughout the customer journey and allow for timely adoption of appropriate solutions. The opportunity to offer targeted and relevant proposals must in any case be balanced with the growing sensitivity to customer privacy.
4. Reconcile brand memory and contemporary
In order to hope to capture the attention of HENRYs, historic luxury companies find themselves having to update their institutional image in depth, redefining their reputation according to a system of values based on contemporaneity and authenticity, on which new consumers base inclusive, conscious, and sustainable lifestyles. In order to do this, they are abandoning a certain dogmatic idea of tradition, overshadowing a concept of exclusivity essentially linked to high prices.
The legacy and history of the brand are no longer as decisive in guiding purchasing choices as they were a few years ago. Today, Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, and even Boomers consider legacy a much less fundamental attribute of the luxury brand. In the 2019 survey of the state of the luxury industry conducted by the Luxury Institute in the seven major markets (United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, and China), the brand’s heritage and history rank only sixth after quality, service, design, craftsmanship, and product exclusivity.
The company’s heritage is obviously not abandoned nor is the history of the brand rewritten, but the narrative is complicated, it is enriched with storylines related to the current, the “here and now”. The new reality requires flexibility, imagination, and an ability to share; inclusive and at the same time open to individualized communication projects. It requires a considerable effort of redesign and contamination with other environments, for example streetwear, at a time when the encounter with the everyday and the informal seems to guarantee a greater possibility to communicate with the target audience and to recover the competitive position (globenewswire.com).
5. Personalize products, experiences, content
As omnichannel customer care services become more widespread, customers increasingly take them for granted and think of the customer experience as a commodity. In the case of luxury, very high minimum quality standards must be offered at the outset. Also regarding the characteristics of a product or service, quality is now the necessary and sufficient condition. In order to consolidate the customer’s position in the final stages of the journey, brands try to establish a loyal relationship with consumers through the personalization of their proposal. The urgency is so great that some brands are incorporating personalization into their long-term strategies, proactively internalizing customer feedback by providing highly customized consumer products.
Talking about the brand: redesigning the content marketing strategy in the luxury sector
So far, the trends that are shaping the context in which luxury brands operate are the attention, desire, and loyalty of their customers. We can venture a conclusion: to tell the story of a luxury brand today it seems necessary to rethink the content strategy under the banner of distinctiveness, sincerity, and current events. Whether it is a social media post, a landing page, or an article published on the blog, maintaining an aura of exclusivity should therefore be accompanied, especially in the case of historic brands, by an effort to connect with consumers. In addition to the trends and perspectives we have talked about in this post, there are two other aspects that should be kept in mind and that derive from what has been written so far: knowledge of the main SEO techniques and care in the management of communication and social.
- The knowledge of the market and increasingly sophisticated analysis of data describing customer behavior suggest to the luxury brand an overview of the types of content that existing and potential customers would like to see or read. A fundamental step then is becoming familiar with the basic principles of search engine optimization (SEO) and key indicators (KPIs) in order to more accurately measure the results obtained from published content and keep clear objectives at the center of the decision-making process.
- With the spread of social media, a type of digital marketing that revolves around the concept of luxury digital experience has begun to play a major role within marketing strategies in the luxury sector and has become even more advanced, thanks to technical features that have set the conditions for the development of new forms of participatory creativity. We talked at length about social digital luxury in a previous post. Here, we limit ourselves to remember that the presence of the brand on social networks responds to an extremely customer-centric content marketing logic that, on the company side, allows an even more accurate profiling, on the consumer side allows the activation of a conversation in which the personal point of view of the user-customer gains equal dignity with that of the brand. When the possibility of an effectively communicative relationship with its target is integrated into social marketing actions, setting the conditions for the co-creation of value, virtual communities linked to the brand are born. Within these privileged spaces consumers learn, understand, form an opinion, and process information about products and services useful for their decision-making process. Above all: they participate in the design of content through co-creation practices that can either be implemented directly by the brand or co-opted later. In any case, the content produced enriches and enhances the company’s content marketing strategy.
The right starting point for a successful content strategy in the luxury sector is, as we have seen so far, to use the power of storytelling, and to find the right balance between these fundamental factors: empathy, maximum usability, and transparency.