It’s boom time for British luxury brands, with high demand in the Middle East and the Far East driving sales of everything from Burberry trench-coats to Bentley cars.
Even lesser-known brands can reach out to what analysts refer to as a “second wave” of global luxury consumers – those who value discernment (as opposed to overt opulence) through heritage, customisation and hand-crafting.
While sky-rocketing rents prevents international expansion of ‘bricks and mortar’ stores for most, the right content marketing strategy can help smaller luxury brands establish a powerful online brand and global growth.
The challenges for premium brands in developing a consistent, high-quality experience at every stage of the consumer journey are, however, substantial. For one thing, it’s hard to ‘feel’ (or in the case of premium leather, for instance, ‘smell’) the quality you’re paying for in the virtual world, so how do you engage the senses? And how do you replicate the VIP atmosphere of a luxury store – from fittings to personalised service – when consumers are clicking and scrolling around a screen?
Here, we take a look at the way eight luxury brands in a range of product sectors are answering some of these questions as they recreate the luxury retail experience online in a bid to reach out to new, younger, digital savvy consumers around the world.
1. Anya Hindmarch
A modern yet beautiful website that perfectly showcases founder Anya Hindmarch’s playful take on premium products – from the ‘Anya’s World’ multimedia digest of upmarket London life and style to the content-led landing page for bespoke services.
For the last few years, Burberry has been tapping into a more youthful, social-savvy audience through their acoustic sessions, live streams from London Fashion Week, and very British celebrities. Burberry Acoustic (‘explore new British Music Talent’) has proved a particularly rich source of content, with a regular supply of exclusive music videos shot in charming outdoor locations – including this one from 2011 featuring Jake Bugg.
3. Merchant Fox
Every product has a detailed, well-written description and a ‘provenance’ tab to highlight the brand story. As founder Deborah Meaden said in a recent radio interview: “The internet is where we wrap up our values and story and say this is what we’re all about – not just through words and pictures – we’re going to treat you well: the delivery is going to be amazing, the packaging will be absolutely fabulous. You’ve got to be able to tell that story through the internet.”
4. Private White VC
A digital presence that’s absolutely packed with character –from the atmospheric illustrations to the use of Google Maps’ new personalised street view to give an online peek into life at the brand’s Manchester factory. And a jolly good style blog to boot.
5. Kent and Curwen
The Kent and Curwen site is a brilliant example of rich brand storytelling – full of bold imagery, print-style layout and typography, and a seamless user-experience. For Fall/Winter 2013, the brand made the most of assets created for its global advertising campaign – evocative shots of English National Cricketers Alastair Cook and Nick Compton by renowned photographer Alasdair Mclellan (styled by Jonathan Kaye). Super, what.
As you’d expect from a brand that combines exclusive craftsmanship with modern technology and marketing, Vertu’s site is an object lesson in catering for the discerning consumer. The ‘making of extraordinary’ video slickly showcases the handcrafted process behind each phone, while the product descriptions are anything but ‘techie’ – focusing instead on the use of exotic, rare materials and the effect of products on the senses (‘see, touch, hear’ are the main headings for the Vertu Ti Android smartphone).
An astonishing example of what Walpole – the ‘voice of British luxury’ – refers to as “making the customer feel clever” through the use of highly cultured content and events. Forget your fashion show video clips and (yawn) long, lavishly produced surreal videos –Dunhill’s Day 8 content channel brings us instead simple, stark monochrome talking heads. But what heads they are – Brian Eno, John Hurt, Don McCullin, and more. Who wouldn’t want to stop and listen? We’re all ears.
Finally, a vision of breathtaking digital beauty. Dazzling, be-jewelled opulence translated from the boutique to the screen in a seamless blend of heritage and technology. If you’re a luxury brand that deals in sumptuousness, learn from Graff – this is how to overwhelm the senses from afar.
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Some of Speak Media’s content and design work for luxury brands: