How should luxury brands engage with Generation Y?

By Caroline Copestake

Are you a luxury brand looking to engage with a new younger audience? Recently we reported on Marriott Hotels’ attempts to do just that – see Marriott reinvents marketing of luxury hotels with Travel Brilliantly campaign.

Now, a blog post on MediaPost offers more useful tips.

‘With social media increasingly the communications platform of choice for the most desirable Millennial consumers, luxury brands will have to rewrite the script on how they speak to this crucial audience’, starts the piece.

‘With Millennials on track to become the largest consumer demographic in the US by 2015, luxury brands need to develop smart social marketing and customer service approaches to capture their attention and maintain the exclusive appeal of their products.’

High visibility versus exclusivity

One of the key challenges, as MediaPost sees it, is striking the balance between high visibility, and maintaining that shroud of exclusivity. Yet, your target audience is often ahead of the game. Generation Y (anyone born since 1980) has ‘grown up immersed in social media’, as the blog puts it.

No surprise then that 85% of luxury brands plan to increase their digital spend overall, and 72% plan to spend more on social marketing ‘specifically in their efforts toward new customer acquisition’, says the blog.

And something’s already working – or there at least in people’s natural aspirational tendency – with 7 out of the top 20 most-followed fashion brands on Facebook luxury labels.

‘With more affluent customers flocking to social media, smartphones and tablets, luxury marketers are committing more funds to digital marketing than ever before’, agrees a piece on ShopIgniter.

And MediaPost cites American Express in saying that Generation Y’s spending ‘on luxury fashion, travel and jewelry’ grew more than any other age demographic over 2011.

Defining characteristics

As well as this immersion from birth, there are 3 other defining characteristics of so-called Millennials’ spending, as the MediaPost piece sees it – ways in which this younger generation differ from their parents.

1. They consider tech gadgets a necessity not a luxury. There are other things they’ll stint on, but not this.

2. They don’t take brands on face value – expecting instead to be able to ‘track down information on why a brand deserves the “luxury” tag’, says the piece.

3. They have the potential to become ‘a true brand ambassador’ – in the sense they have both the belief in status, and then reach to communicate this to their peers.

They also like their ‘daily deals and flash sales’.

‘By playing into Millennials’ desire for offers like these,’ says the blog, ‘luxury marketers can increase their brands’ visibility while maintaining that sense of brand exclusivity.’

Quality content

Finally, the piece highlights the critical importance of creating quality online content.

It’s no good if your social media presence doesn’t reflect the quality that runs through your whole luxury brand identity.

You have a premium product, you need ‘premium content’, argues the piece – and quite rightly so.

It shares one example – of a short film created by Chanel to mark its 100th anniversary, and starring its face of tomorrow, Keira Knightley, herself a Millennial, of course, as Coco Chanel.

It’s up to marketers of luxury brands to make the most of the very real opportunities afforded by social media. It’s not just enough to pay lip service – simply throwing money at the problem. You need to have a working strategy.

And that strategy needs, according to MediaPost, above all, to strike this balance: projecting you as a brand both ‘present, yet exclusive’.

Good luck, striking that balance.

See the full post on MediaPostBlogs.
See the piece on ShopIgniter here.
And the American Express report here.

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