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Your marketing is digital. True luxury is analog. Fortunately, there’s a way to unite the two.
More and more of the marketing budget goes into digital channels nowadays. And that’s only smart. It’s where the consumer is. Yet luxury remains resolutely analogue. It’s not about the function, it’s about the feel. Not price, but people. Marketing luxury is all about the backstory, the emotion, the human element, the tactility of the product. All areas where digital has a problem. There’s only so much emotion you can get off a touchscreen.
That’s not to criticize digital. For luxury brands as with any other brand, it’s a great way to get in touch and stay in touch. But there’s a point where you need more. You could call it the human touch. We call it experiential marketing.
Experiential marketing is about embodying the brand in every aspect, every touchpoint, every greeting. It’s not about putting the product on a show stand and hoping that your audience will come by. If you’re Breitling – whose chronometers have been chosen by pilots since the dawn of aviation – it’s about giving your most valued customers the chance to barrel roll in an L-39C Albatros with the elite Breitling Jet Team. When they come down, they’ll have a new perspective on precision.
If you’re Lamborghini, it’s about the exhilaration, Italian style. It’s about owners watching Sant’Agata’s 610 horsepower supercars jousting in the Super Trofeo race series while they chill trackside in the VIP lounge. Or relaxing after a great day of driving through the Tuscan countryside. With their Prosecco at just the right temperature, naturalmente.
If you’re Alfa Romeo, keen to re-establish the brand in the States, it’s about putting your new 4C carbon fiber sports car in front of the knowledgeable car enthusiasts of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, right alongside a Monza 8C of the kind driven by Tazio Nuvolari. (Even if you don’t know who Tazio Nuvolari was, believe us, those guys do).
Experiential marketing is not always about the mega budget show or the big thrills. We’ve seen a group of luxury car owners, whose collective income probably rivals that of a small European nation, stand fascinated as a factory craftsman quietly double-stitches a butter-soft leather cover to a steering wheel. After ten minutes, they all understand a little more about the meaning of bespoke. And why certain makes of luxury cars are worth every cent.
Luxury needs experiential marketing. Because luxury itself is an experience. That Breitling chronograph on your wrist does more than tell time. It is something that skilled humans have painstakingly created by hand, a masterpiece of craftsmanship. It’s the watch of great aviators, past and present and, was the first wrist chronograph in space. A Breitling tells history.
But now, a word of warning. Resist the temptation to turn your carefully-planned experience into a sales pitch. Sure, if a customer takes one look at the supercar on display and decides he – or she - has to have it, take their order. But don’t be pushy. This isn’t about selling, it’s about feeling. Staff your experience with hosts, not salespeople. Make sure they know the brand inside-out. If the experience connects with their feelings and aspirations, those customers will be back.
If you’d like another piece of advice, be mindful of your guest list. If it’s billed as an exclusive event, keep it that way. Fellow guests, customers and owners are the best brand ambassadors you can find, and you’ve got them extolling your brand for the price of some decent champagne and a nice goody bag. Don’t pack out your event with tire kickers. One owner talking to another is the best endorsement your brand could ever enjoy.
It takes effort and thought to create an experience that’s compelling, memorable, imbued with brand ethos and leaves your guests wanting more. But it’s worth it. So make sure that at least some of your marketing budget is earmarked for experiential marketing. Give your consumers the chance to experience the brand and the product as a personal, human interaction. Don’t use the occasion to sell; use it to embrace. Both your e-marketing open rates and your sales figures will show the benefit.
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