Shifts in luxury brand engagement #luxurybrands


I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing luxury brands in my career including Jaguar and now on Johnnie Walker’s ‘Step Inside the Circuit’ F1 sponsorship at iris.

In a world where brands traditionally place a premium on exclusivity and timelessness, we’re seeing brands’ luxury status being defined by their ability to deliver innovative theatrical experiences.  How many different projection mapping efforts have we seen over the past 2 years? Some of the best being Lexus’ Trace Your Road real life video game and Design Disrupted but it’s now pretty standard for brands to play here to bring their rich stories to life.

The social revolution has changed the way luxury brands now bring new products to market. Brands like Burberry have embraced a ‘digital first’ ethos as spend 60% of their marketing budget on digitally integrated brand experiences, content platforms and retail initiatives. Making exclusive inclusive is fundamental in creating luxury brands with high levels of engagement.

There are some fundamental shifts going on that luxury brands need to consider.

1. Brands are no longer the arbiters of luxury, consumers, bloggers, platforms  are

For a long time, luxe brands have resisted forms of crowd-sourcing for fear of losing control of the brand’s visual identity, and the exclusiveness. But we’re seeing more and more brands collaborate, co-create with their target audience…albeit in more controlled scenarios. Louis Vuitton Journey Awards short film competition is a great example.

Luxe brands need sophisticated social commerce strategies which tap into the insight that people today are using social platforms like Pinterest to curate their ideal luxury lifestyle and purchase products. Chanel has the strongest presence on Pinterest despite not having an account. It’s photos are pinned more than any other brand in the world. Studies suggest that Pinterest directs more traffic to ecommerce sites than Facebook and Twitter combined.

2. Wealth is now determined by experiences more than material possessions.

People are seeking self fulfillment over status symbols as a general rule. According to a BCG study in 2012, experiential purchases (art, travel, leisure) account for over 55% of global luxe market and is growing 50% faster than luxury goods.

3. Interactive storytelling is essential in driving engagement, consumers want to ‘know’ more than ‘own’

Brands like Burberry and Audi are pioneering new immersive retail experiences adding depth and personalisation to the product discovery process. Physical and digital are  one in the same. It’s more than just creating dreamy luxury fantasies, but often service based utilities that bring to life the rational side of the brand or make purchasing easy are equally powerful in the networked age.

4. Time is the ultimate in luxury

Today more than ever ‘the time to experience products and experiences’ is seen as more than a status symbol than the accumulation of money. Traditionally eastern cultures have worshipped the currency as a display of wealth, but with the growth of the Chinese middle class and CVET, BRIC luxury consumers, time is to experience luxury is the ultimate display of wealth.

Some great recent examples of innovative uses of digital to create engagement and sales include:

Dianne Von Furstenberg #shopthehangout

Gucci Virtual Store

Luxe brands creating superlative, tech driven experiences will set themselves up for success in the ever evolving digital age with a new generation of luxury consumer navigating brands very differently to affluent baby boomers.

Step Inside the Circuit: with Lewis and Jenson

Our latest work for global client Johnnie Walker’s sponsorship of the Vodafone McLaren F1 team.  ‘Step Inside the Circuit’ is a branded content platform following Lewis and Hamilton as they give us a glimpse into the amazing world of F1 and the rockstar lifestyle attached. What I’m really proud of is the fact that we release this content within 24hrs of the actual race – ensuring it’s contextually relevant and exciting. Well done Grant Hunter, Paul Gage and team at Iris Worldwide, Singapore. Onwards and upwards