Commentary

Accessible Luxury - Making Your Brand Relatable to Affluent Women Today

We recently engaged hundreds of affluent women nationwide, in a week-long conversation about a high-end champagne brand, hoping to uncover how to make this brand more relevant to them. 

It was a more cerebral exercise than we expected. Our panelists had a lot to say about how luxury marketers are living in the superficiality of the past and not in the realism of today. As we probed deeper, what we learned was a pop-the cork burst of insight into how luxury brands overall can better communicate with today’s discerning shoppers. 

The three big takeaways are surprisingly similar to approaches that consumers are validating with their advocacy and purchase across categories. Leveraging them is a little more complicated for luxury brands, but our findings offer real actionable ideas: 

  • Aspirational Reality Consumers are giving advertisers permission to be more substantive than frivolous. They want more depth. The age of superficiality when a brand could stand on top of a pedestal in aloof beauty is over. As an affluent consumer stated so bluntly when reviewing luxury brand advertising… “NOT a fan of these ads. At all. I suppose they are intended to be aspirational, but to me they are utterly superficial. Do the manufacturers and the ad agencies REALLY see their potential purchasers this way? That idea makes me sad.”Aspirational beauty is still important, but our women said they want to see themselves in the advertising. Show how your brand can live in the ‘everyday’ of the consumer. Take some advice from a consumer from Florida: “It is unrealistic and too flashy for me - it would be better if the ads allowed real people to relate to it - we have the income and standard of living - but the images do not represent how we live.”
  • Seduce through Story Consumers across categories are being brought into brand stories, and that kind of transparency is growing in importance. “Tell me the brand’s back story and journey,” our panelists said. Perhaps even more important when the consumer is investing in luxury brands — having as much information as possible and romancing the history and thoughtful making of the product and the devotion of the makers themselves is key. That kind of information drives purchase, but also drives affinity — and will be the information the consumer shares about the brand. There’s nothing more powerful today than a loyal consumer who shares the love, and shares it with meaningful depth. Luxury is still about seduction, but today you have to seduce both the heart and the head. 
  • Foster Connectedness Much has been written about the lack of community in today’s digitally connected world. And the world of luxury brands so often feel so solitary in the way they are depicted in advertising. A lone model, a private moment of luxury. Our panelists are searching for connection, even when they view luxury advertising: “We are bombarded with advertising. When it shows someone who looks like a top model in a designer gown showing a product I just keep on going. Just an ad is what it says, no feelings behind it”. Luxury brands have the opportunity to say something worthwhile in the context of relationships and show more connectivity in the messaging, eliciting that “feeling” so many consumers are craving today.

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In all consumer categories today, marketers have the opportunity to pay close attention to what the consumer says. They are inviting us into their conversations and providing strong cues that allow brands to better connect with them. In the luxury category we know they expect more, so we have to listen even closer. As marketers, we can enable our consumer to see their lives in the marketing we create and avoid this kind of reaction: “The message depicted in the ads is geared towards a lifestyle that I do not care to live.”

2 comments about "Accessible Luxury - Making Your Brand Relatable to Affluent Women Today".
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  1. Ron Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, November 12, 2014 at 1:39 p.m.

    Not sure what level of wealth these women have, but the three "findings" or "takeaways" seem to be just a different way of saying that most of the affluent live within their means, generally pursue a modest lifestyle, and need to be given good reasons for buying true luxury items. This has been obvious for some time (see Thomas Stanley's research, which first appeared in "The Millionaire Next Door").

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 12, 2014 at 2:09 p.m.

    Flashy (stars and models?) splashy. There are plenty of $2500 handbags that are not flashy. Either the messages are not on target, but more like the women asked are not their market. Remember, the definition of affluent is not represented on much of the research where they have HHI of $75,000 to $100,000 that wouldn't cut affluent 20 years ago. Maybe a 60+, size 12 woman (note: the black Birkin has a reputation of the mistress and wife who husband also bought his mistress one, a $24,000 nifty gifties) at an upscale restaurant alone carrying her Channel bag would ring more bells.

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