Relevance’s guide to the 10 C’s of digital marketing for luxury brands

The world of luxury is changing, and consumers are increasingly picking brands that align with their values. Luxury consumers seek immersive and authentic experiences from brands that put purpose before profit. Luxury brands that can tap into key trends and changing consumer habits, and tailor their marketing strategies accordingly, will reap the benefits in the new era of luxury.

Relevance is a full-service digital marketing agency helping luxury brands market to the world’s wealthiest audiences for more than a decade. Here are our 10 C’s of digital marketing for luxury brands with real-world samples.

The 10 C’s of digital marketing  

1 – Culture

Fostering culture and connecting with audiences locally is key to a luxury brand’s success. According to research by the Pew Research Centre, globalisation has led to many people feeling tired and lost.

English fashion designer Anya Hindmarch created a whole village near their flagship store in Pont Street, harnessing the roots of the brand and creating a powerful community connection, while luxury fashion brand Gucci popped up in local neighbourhoods with their 2021 project Gucci 100. The pop-ups were part of the fashion brand’s 100-year celebrations and aimed to connect and engage with clients worldwide and their surrounding communities. Ensuring complete accessibility, the brand also offered a digital pop up, available through a dedicated platform on the Gucci website and Gucci App.

2 – Cause

The second ten C’s of marketing is ‘Cause.’ Luxury brands must work towards a cause that aligns with their audience. Consumers and industry talent increasingly reject brands that cannot articulate their purpose beyond profit. The wealth transfer to women and minorities is accelerating this change.

Brands that are putting ‘cause’ front and centre of their ethos include Mulberry, which is embedding the values of transparency, regeneration, and circularity across its supply chain. The brand’s Made to Last manifesto includes net-zero emissions by 2035, the use of regenerative agriculture, and creating a circular business model, including giving customers buyback, exchange, and refurbish services.  

3 – Conscious

According to Hotwire, consumers increasingly appreciate brands that are careful about what they supply. A 2019 Hotwire survey showed that 47% of respondents stopped purchasing from a brand because it went against their values.  ‘Conscious’ therefore is one of the most essential 10 C’s of luxury marketing. 

Apple recently re-thought how it packaged its products, creating 50% less packaging for the release of its iPhone 12 in 2020. The brand did this by excluding headphones and chargers as most people will already have these or utilise aftermarket products. According to Apple, 93% of the packaging is fibre-based, 100% of the wood fibre comes from recycled and responsible sources and includes 72% recycled content in fibre packaging.

4 – Charter

Consumers are actively looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. And luxury brands are responding by offering leasing, sharing, re-selling, and pre-loved options. Companies such as MyWardrobeHQ provide logistics for brands and retailers like Harvey Nichols to take responsibility for their pre-loved supply chain.

Luxury fashion brands, including Gucci, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Valentino, now offer second-hand styles. Jean-Paul Gaultier, for example, has launched a vintage selection on their website, and customers can now return used Valentino garments to selected boutiques for re-sale under a new label, Valentino Vintage. In September 2021, Gucci launched Gucci Vault, where customers can purchase re-conditioned Gucci items.

This circular economy concept is not only sustainable but an effective way to draw in new climate-conscious consumers and further boost customer loyalty.

5 – Collaborate

Millennials and Gen Z place greater value on creative choice and meaning, making ‘Collaborate’ one of the most vital 10 C’s of digital marketing. Luxury brands are embracing this with surprising, creative collaborations that make a statement by partnering with brands from different industries with often polarising target audiences.

One example is legendary French designer Karl Lagerfeld who collaborated with KFC to celebrate its 80th anniversary by creating limited-edition ‘chicken-bags,’ making a bold statement that transcends fashion and luxury.  

6 – Community & Decentralisation

According to Gartner, by 2026, 25% of consumers will spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse, and there is now increasing demand for digital-only apparel.

Luxury brands are responding. For example, Balenciaga collaborated with Fortnite to offer a digital in-game skin. Dolce & Gabanna, Nike, and Adidas all produce apparel for the virtual world, with clothing sold as non-fungible tokens.

7 – Counter Cliques

Research by McKinsey & Company highlights that 66% of Gen Z believes that communities are created by causes and interests, not economic backgrounds and educational levels, and brands are responding.

Airbnb Luxe allows people to meet and stay with intriguing hosts in statement-making ultra-lux homes, with custom itineraries and tailored services. Carlyle & Co is a private members’ club home to a unique and diverse community, providing the ultimate destination to connect.

How businesses operate is also changing. Businesses require flexibility for hybrid working and purpose over presentation. More businesses are opting to use companies such as WeWork, a provider of coworking spaces, including physical and virtual shared spaces, rather than standalone offices.

8 – Crypto & NFTs

Embracing the latest digital trends can ensure luxury brands stay ahead of the curve and engage with an increasingly digital-savvy audience.

NFTs are bridging the gap between Web3, which incorporates concepts such as decentralisation, token-based economies, and the real world. NFT’s serve as digital artworks, digital tickets, and ownership certificates for real-world rare products and experiences.

Examples include:

  • artist Beeple’s Everydays, a collage of 5,000 digital images, which sold at Christie’s for US$69 million;
  • Gucci’s fashion NFT film, which auctioned for $25,000;
  • and RTKT, a digital fashion brand that creates next-gen sneakers and collectables for the metaverse, which teamed up with the crypto-artist FEWOCiOUS to sell a series of limited-edition virtual sneakers, raising some $3.1 million.

Finally, brands are embracing cryptocurrency, providing investors with a quick and effortless way to purchase luxury goods. Relevance’s client luxury yacht brokerage YACHTZOO has recently partnered with BitPay to enable select superyachts to be bought or chartered with cryptocurrency, while another client of ours, luxury villa rental agency, St Tropez House, offers several villas that can be purchased with bitcoin. 

9 – China

According to research by Bain & Co, 48% of luxury shopping will be carried out by Chinese Shoppers by 2025. High-Net-Worth populations in Asian regions are growing exponentially, while in Europe, they are declining gradually. 

Luxury brands are shifting their marketing strategies to include the platforms that wealthy Chinese consumers inhabit. Both Fendi and Louis Vuitton have promoted collections on Bili Bili, a video-sharing website based in Shanghai, while Gucci and Bulgari are just one of many luxury fashion houses that have launched virtual stores on TMall Luxury Pavilion, an e-commerce storefront which offers invite-only access.

10 – Cosmic

Our final 10 C’s of digital marketing for luxury brands is ‘Cosmic.’ Space travel is now within reach of the world’s wealthiest. From 2024, consumers will be able to travel to space with companies such as Space Perspectives, Virgin Galactic, and SpaceX. 

Luxury brands are piggybacking onto the burgeoning space travel industry, creating innovative marketing campaigns and products that capture the imagination of space enthusiasts. Electric car manufacturer Tesla collaborated with its sister brand SpaceX to launch a Tesla into orbit, and sports brand Under Armour partnered with Virgin Galactic to create the first consumer astronaut outfits.

Relevance offers full-strategic digital marketing support to luxury brands. Our services include building brand identities, delivering cutting-edge websites, and creating innovative digital strategies with SEO, paid advertising, social media, influencer marketing, PR, content marketing, and CRM. If you need help and guidance implementing the 10 C’s of digital marketing, contact our team today.

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