Luxury brands, by definition, are in a class by themselves. While brands aimed at the mass public are perfectly willing to compete on price (even as quality of their products and services dips down), luxury brands cater to a much more exclusive group of consumers. Thus, marketing approaches that might work for mass-market brands aren’t always effective or desirable for luxury brands.
The following insights go out to all those luxury brands which constantly strive to hone and refine the impact of their marketing strategy. Here, you’ll learn how luxury events are powerful marketing channels for enhancing perceptions of a luxury brand’s authenticity.
A word about brand authenticity: this is vital to the success and long-term marketplace endurance of upscale brands. What is brand authenticity? Turning to the academic and corporate literature, we discover that “society is increasingly characterized by a growing feeling of uncertainty due to events such as the global financial crisis, increasing political instability, or climate change. People try to relieve this uncertainty by seeking authenticity in their daily lives, even in the products they consume and the brands they own…Authenticity is an essential human aspiration.” Thus write consumer researchers from Switzerland and Germany in a publication for the Association for Consumer Research.
Luxury brands, in particular, thrive off of strong perceptions of authenticity, as the luxury-oriented market insists upon products and services that are real and genuine – and the same “realness” is expected from the brands themselves which create these goods and services.
So how do luxury events elevate these perceptions of brand authenticity? Researchers have identified a number of aspects to brand authenticity. They are outlined below, along with a summary of how events and experiential marketing help capture and convey these critical attributes of brand authenticity.
- Heritage and pedigree. Consumers in the luxury sphere want to know that a brand stays true to its heritage and pedigree, as this demonstrates that the brand story and narrative – while always evolving – is true to its origins. And, in the quest for conveying a brand’s rich heritage, luxury events reign supreme. For example, a wine brand might orchestrate experiential tours of vineyards, such that consumers experience – in a very real way – the brand’s pedigree firsthand, with their feet planted firmly in the soil that yields the final product. In addition, by immersing consumers in the brand’s heritage, the brand can justify price premiums (with the understanding that the brand’s products and services are expected to consistently perform on a high level).
- Stylistic consistency. Another attribute to brand authenticity, stylistic consistency refers to consistent brand messaging, marketing, and experiences – wherever and whenever consumers encounter the brand. BMW understands this well, with a marketing mix that is heavily steeped in luxury events and experiences. What are the objectives of these events and experiences? “To connect people to our products and to dealers within their communities with a very consistent message,” says BMW’s manager of consumer events, Thomas Salkowsky. Luxury events can enhance stylistic consistency by always delivering on experiences which continually reinforce the brand’s story, image, and originality.
- Quality commitments. Luxury brands must communicate an unswerving, enduring commitment to quality. If a luxury brand’s products or services are found to be lacking in quality, the brand can suffer a quick fall from grace. How can high-end brands demonstrate their commitment to complete quality? One answer is through events-based marketing and experiential marketing campaigns. While affluent consumers might be tentatively convinced about the quality of a brand’s products by reading marketing material or online reviews, there’s nothing that’s quite as convincing as trying out a product at a live event.
- Method of production. Luxury consumers are intensely interested in the method of production of an upscale brand’s products. They really want to know how the final products are produced from the ground-up, as in this way they can use their own criteria and knowledge to determine if the product matches their expectations and desires.. Here, again, luxury events and experiential marketing manifest their true power; for example, factory tours can be integrated as part of a live brand experience, or consumers can be invited to see the actual ingredients that go into making a makeup product.
Since all of these attributes contribute to deeply-held perceptions of brand authenticity, it is essential that high-end brands constantly reinforce these aspects of the brand. And to that end, luxury events have no peer.