Luxury Marketing For The Digital Age

Though luxury shopping was once the province of bricks-and-mortar locations, it now has arrived online.

According to the Deloitte report, “The Great Retail Bifurcation,” premier retailers are also digital retailers, offering their “premier or highly-differentiated products, or experience offerings” online. The report found also that luxury sellers saw the most revenue growth over the past five years.

When it comes to summer vacations, most begin planning online – including those in the luxury market. What many of us do is compare prices for various flight and hotel options on sites like TripAdvisor and Kayak, to find something within our budgets. For those whose time is more valuable than money, however, the goal of online shopping is different.

“Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald is famous for observing, “They are different from you and me.”

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This difference is manifested in their approach to shopping, which is why luxury marketing has to operate differently than marketing that stresses value as a function of price. The primary measure of value for luxury buyers is getting exactly what they want, with a minimum of time and hassle.

I once saw this in person when I wandered into a local children’s clothing store. A woman was there for camp shopping, but was able to relax and remain seated while a saleswoman ran around to fetch all the items on her list. Everything was to be boxed and shipped, so that the customer wouldn’t have to lift a finger. The woman gave the store her entire order to fill, because it was gave her a high level of personalized service. That, rather than the best price on each item, was her measure of value.

People seeking that kind of shopping experience are the ones that the luxury travel planning site, Black Tomato caters to. To enhance its service level, the travel site has now introduced a “Panic Button” at the bottom right of their website.

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Clicking the “Panic Button” reveals a banner that states:  “Need to be on a plane, like yesterday? Fill in this form and we’ll contact you and ease the stress.”

Should that not quite live up to the sense of urgency one might feel in pressing the “Panic Button,” it continues with a bolded message: “In a serious panic? Call the panic team” with a choice of two numbers and an email address.

Here’s the promotional video that Black Tomato put out on its Facebook page:

This type of marketing exemplifies what Apparel described as “a greater effort on the part of luxury brands to generate emotional benefits.”

It makes sense for Black Tomato to offer this level of personalized rush service for its customer base. Offering a truly customized travel plan, rather than a preset package delivered within 24 hours, is one way to stand out in this market.

Adding instant access to a person who will do whatever it takes to make your dream vacation come true is a way of marrying high-tech with the high-touch experience associated with luxury service. This is likely the future of luxury marketing; one which builds on convenience luxury shoppers expect, with the expanded digital accessibility to deliver bespoke goods and services. 

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