The most successful luxury brands got that way by strengthening relationships at every point of the buyer’s journey. Once they’ve captured the interest of the affluent consumer, their creative marketing strategies focus on building brand loyalty—and it’s easy to see why. Although affluent consumers make up only 20% of U.S. households, they account for 40% of all consumer spending.
Upscale shoppers are the lifeblood of luxury brands. Marketing to this demographic isn’t easy. The more figures there are in a price tag, the more difficult it may be to earn each sale. But when luxury brands earn the trust of affluent consumers, a lifetime of brand loyalty brings a steady stream of serious profits. Here are some of the specific, unique ways high-end brands have built a legacy through loyalty.
Luxury Brands Offer a Lush Mobile Experience
59% of the traffic to luxury sites comes from mobile devices. What keeps these visitors coming back? Simple navigation, plush images and cohesive branding. This isn’t just true of upscale fashion brands like Cartier and Chanel. Luxury travel brands, cars, cigars and more—they all rely on uncomplicated mobile-friendly websites to attract and retain affluent customers.
Some even have their own apps. Tiffany & Co has two—“Engagement ring finder” and “What makes love true.” It’s a trend more high-end brands are embracing. This could explain why 49% of luxury shoppers now expect brands to have a mobile app. The challenge for luxury brand marketers is to ensure these outlets fit the brand identity and provide a cohesive marketing image at every point of the buyer journey. These brands have to go beyond basic marketing of informing potential customers about their products (like the 4c’s of diamonds), to explain why their brand is worth more than seemingly similar products available for less.
High-End Marketing Yields Higher Brand Loyalty
Lovers of premium brands view their purchases as an investment. They aren’t afraid to pay more for a higher quality product or service. To create customer loyalty, luxury brands can’t just provide expertly crafted goods. Everything they produce needs to reflect their commitment to quality, and that includes marketing materials.
One area where luxury brands stand out from the pack is direct mail marketing. Thick, high-quality cardstock, embossed designs, and rich, colorful envelopes help elevate the mailed marketing of luxury brands. Many even employ digital handwriting services to make messages more personal. When affluent consumers receive mail from their favorite brands, they’re reminded of the product’s quality and a brand image that reflects their own personal aesthetic and lifestyle goals.
Strategic Sales Build Brand Loyalty
For luxury brands, reputation is everything. When affluent consumers make a purchase, they’re not just buying a product. They’re buying a lifestyle. An Aventador isn’t just a car. It’s a status symbol. If the Lamborghini was more affordable, more consumers might get behind the wheel. But the upper echelon of car collectors would see the streets clogged with them, shrug and say, “What’s the point?”
22% of affluent consumers agree that if a luxury product goes on sale, it lessens its perception of luxury. However, 83% say they bought their last luxury item when it was on sale and this influenced their decision to buy.
To drive sales and support customer loyalty, luxurious brands need to find balance. Many high fashion houses achieve this through offshoot brands. A Kenneth Cole blazer may retail for over $400, but department store shoppers can snag a similar style by Kenneth Cole REACTION for under $100. This approach targets buyers with different budgets without compromising brand integrity.
Shining a Spotlight on Production
The best brands tell a compelling story. Creators of luxury brands must have a mission—one that goes far beyond simply making a profit. Affluent consumers are far more likely to show brand loyalty if they feel they’re contributing to something greater. When high-end brands show a commitment to ethically sourced materials and fair trade, customers can feel good about investing in the process.
Transparency is key. Luxury brands aren’t just honest about their production process—they’re proud of it. Visit the websites of high-end vehicles and designer handbags and you’ll see at least one page dedicated to explaining the production process. Here, quality is carried through every aspect of creation. Social media posts also share behind-the-scenes glimpses into how these products are engineered. This isn’t impersonal assembly. It’s a craft, and each finished product is a work of art. When consumers feel like curators, creating brand loyalty is easy.
Consistency throughout all marketing channels is very important. Luxury brands don’t want to invest their marketing dollars to build a quality brand image only to have it lessened by careless posts on social media, an overly pushy sales email, or poor marketing from a local store. Great luxury brands take an omni-channel approach to present a finely crafted marketing message.
Brand Loyalty Is Built Below the Ceiling
Even consumers with large budgets like to feel like savvy shoppers. They may spend $500 on a new handbag, but they justify the purchase if there’s another purse they want even more for $1,000. The perceived compromise lessens the likelihood of buyer’s remorse. A $25,000 coat from Saks’ Fur Salon isn’t a bestseller, but its price point plays mind tricks on shoppers. Suddenly, $700 for a rabbit fur feels like a downright bargain.
“This has been a strategy that goes back to the 17th century,” says retail-consulting guru Paco Underhill. “You sold one thing to the king, but everyone in court had to have a lesser one. There’s the $500 bag in the window, and what you walk away with is the T-shirt. It’s the same strategy as putting the sports car in the window to sell the sedan in the back.”
Luxury brands surround themselves with an aura of exclusivity. Consumers can “buy into” this elite scene at a lower price point. And knowing they’re getting high-quality products without paying the highest price possible builds brand loyalty and keeps them coming back.
Connecting Leaders to Consumers to Build Brand Loyalty
Wealthy consumers see themselves as leaders—not just in their chosen professions, but also in the realms of lifestyle and culture. For this reason, they expect to be treated less like a customer and more like a peer. Connecting these consumers to the creators and directors of luxury brands is one sure-fire way to boost brand loyalty.
There are several ways to bridge the gap between brand leader and consumer. The more unique and intentional the communication, the better. High-end fashion designers schedule personal consults with celebrities before red carpet events. Luxury casinos woo their whales with penthouse suites and table-side visits from owners. Some leaders of luxury brands call customers to check in and offer support. Others send handwritten notes to thank consumers for their continued brand loyalty. Each time they do, they strengthen the relationship between buyer and brand.
Even with all these strategies solidly in place, things can still go wrong. When they do, luxury brands leap into action. Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” While it may seem easy for some brands to rest on their luxurious laurels, the brands with the most loyal followers stay humble. They aren’t too proud to admit a mistake. Instead, their pride in the product drives them to provide consistent, excellent, customer service. And when customer service leads, brand loyalty follows.