Young, affluent Millennials, roughly between the ages 20 and 34, hold a vast amount of influence in luxury spending today, powered by a household income of more than $100,000--but marketers may be missing the mark when it comes to effectively engaging them. Why? Because the next generation of luxury consumers is very different from the generation that came before it.
If your mental image of affluent youth is someone who encompasses sophistication, charisma, and immaculate designer-labeled style, you may need to rethink that image. In recent years we’ve seen the emergence of the “HENRY” (High Earner Not Rich Yet), a group to whom discernment is more relevant than status. These are people who are just as happy to wear hoodies and Levis as their nonaffluent peers.
These new luxury shoppers have an entirely different approach to digital media and technology. The dilemma for brands trying to connect with them is how to engage them in a contemporary way, within the channels they love (their phones, consoles, tablets, social networks) without overdemocratizing their brands.
So how can luxury marketers keep up with this young and affluent cohort in meaningful ways without losing the exclusive appeal of luxury?
Contemporize The Brand Story
No one loves a good back story like a Millennial, and luxury brands often have the richest stories to tell. But they need to be contemporized in order for classic brands (which often have an older consumer base) to remain relevant.
Louis Vuitton’s “L’Invitation au Voyage” is a great example of a brand using an artist with both classic and modern appeal in rich creative that simultaneously communicates both its heritage and its relevance. The latest Chanel No.5 commercial not only features a modern icon (Gisele Bundchen), but also tells a very contemporary story of a woman trying to balance work with her relationship. It’s beautiful and moving, and the narrative is as relatable to the modern man as it is to the modern working woman.
It’s not just a creative issue though. Just as relevant is where these great stories live and how they are discovered. The media landscape in which affluent Millennials live requires content that not only engages them naturally and more effectively, but also moves seamlessly across multiple platforms. Great content must be adaptive, personal, and shareable, all at the same time.
Blur The Lines Between Online And Offline
Luxury advertising has typically been entrenched in traditional media, often with a focus on creating exclusive experiences. When brands create ecosystems that bring the physical and virtual worlds together, they increase relevance without sacrificing any of their luxury equity.
Burberry excels at this–its #thisisBrit campaign for the Brit Rhythm fragrance launch merged online and offline worlds through a synchronized global digital OOH experience, broadcasting Instagrammed social content from live concerts onto digital billboards in real time.
Mercedes-Benz lets users create their own custom version of the GLA on Instagram. By tapping into new platforms, blogs, and influencers, brands can better harness the digital powers of popular culture to reach this tech-savvy group. In doing so, they will have a more targeted digital reach, make more authentic connections, and increase ROI.
Think Of Digital As A Luxury Storefront
As consumers become more and more dependent on their tablets and mobile devices for entertainment and information, brands must offer new engagement tools to evolve the shopping experience.
Our consumer insights research shows that media consumption among young affluent men is profoundly digital when it comes to shopping. Particularly heavy in their use of mobile and tablets, they are 62% more likely than other affluents to make purchases via these devices.
Powerful imagery is a crucial element of content in the luxury category, and the brands that successfully keep the aesthetics at the center while also making it easy to buy them ultimately win the race to reach the digitally-savvy affluent.
Brands like Gucci adopted the shoppable video technology early–and have since harnessed the power of subtly blending content with commerce. This digital tool has been touted for years, yet brands are still slow to embrace the technology and are missing a huge opportunity to transform and enrich their consumer’s personal experience.
Being expensive and lavish alone will not garner loyalty from individualistic luxury-seeking Millennials. Aside from a few innovators in the space, most luxury brands are still reliant on traditional advertising models. But there is a huge opportunity to use the channels their consumers love in different ways, from creating brand relevance to driving a sale, and marketers able to crack this nut with an innovative approach will have a true advantage as their buying power and influence continues to expand.