When it comes to brand lust or loyalty, most luxury marketers want both, says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and author of Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience. But she cautions, "Brand lust doesn't necessarily lead to loyalty. They are two entirely different things and marketers need to understand the differences."
"Brand lust is a feeling or a desire to own a specific brand. As such it is not easily measured or quantified and has nothing to do with consumer purchase behavior. On the other hand, brand loyalty is shown by action, a commitment made to make repeat purchases of the brand that transforms a potential target into a consumer. Loyalty is measurable and quantifiable," Danziger says. "Because the end result of lust and loyalty strategies are different, luxury marketers must develop branding strategies that target those differences."
She explains that strategies to build brand lust extend across a broad spectrum of consumers, recognizing that a marketer can build desire for a particular brand regardless of whether or not the target consumer fits the demographic profile of the brand's existing customers.
Strategies to Build Brand Lust Should Target a More Youthful Audience
"Marketers who aim to build brand lust are undertaking a long-term strategy to create a fantasy in the mind of consumers of what the brand represents and how the brand relates to their personal dreams and aspirations. On the other hand, a consumer has to be a 'player' to be the target of a loyalty program. Dreamers and aspirers need not apply. Brand loyalty is only relevant when talking about customers, i.e. people who have bought the brand and who are likely to buy the brand in the future," Danziger says.
So it makes sense for luxury marketers whose goal is to build brand lust to invest in advertising and other marketing communications that target a broad audience, especially a youth-skewing demographic that can be expected to achieve affluence in time. Unity Marketing's research has found the young affluents to be far more brand aware and tuned into branding messages than the older affluents (see Generations of Luxury Report).
"People's passion to have and to own luxury brands ultimately propels many consumers to buy, yet the real investment in such lust-building marketing communications is to maintain the luxury image and allure, not necessarily to drive sales," Danziger says.
Brand Loyalty Programs Must Provide a Measurable Return-on-Investment
Brand loyalty, on the other hand, is far more tactical and can be measured in quantitative ways – purchase recency, frequency and monetary value (RFM analysis). As result, luxury marketers will see a return on investment for their loyalty brand building efforts.
"Luxury marketers tend to think loyalty arises organically out of lust, but that is not necessarily the case. A lust-driven customer may have their lust satisfied with that once-in-a-lifetime purchase, say a Gucci handbag or Chanel suit or by indulging in branded merchandise offered at more affordable price points, say a Burberry scarf or Versace sunglasses." Danziger says.
She continues, "A loyal customer, on the other hand, may not feel the immediacy of brand lust, but they have proven through repeat purchases to have a commitment to the brand. Thus they become members of a unique, highly selective club that not everyone can belong to. Today more luxury brands recognize their loyal customers by offering them official membership in a loyalty program where they receive benefits and rewards. These reward programs must in meaningful and measurable ways encourage the consumer to buy more often and spend more when they do."
"A one-size fits-all loyalty strategy doesn't work in the luxury market," Danziger underscores. "Rather the loyalty program for luxury marketers must be carefully crafted around the unique values and ideals of the brand's customers. In-depth consumer insights need to be the foundation for establishing such a program. It is through an intense understanding of the consumers that marketers will learn what really turns their customers on and what rewards will make a real difference to them."
"For example, the most effective loyalty programs in the luxury market are not exclusively about earning points or money off. They offer more emotional or experiential benefits that make the loyalty member feel really special, like exclusive access to special events that are an experience for the loyal customer. Any company can give a dollars-off coupon, and many do; but loyalty programs for the luxury market need to give these most highly valued and valuable customers a whole lot more," Danziger concludes.
To learn more about loyalty programs for luxury marketers, Pam has prepared a free white paper, entitled "Best Practices in Loyalty Programs for Luxury Marketers." It can be downloaded at http://www.unitymarketingonline.com/cms/Home/White_Papers.php
For more on marketing to the luxury consumer market, Unity Marketing has published the Luxury Report 2007: The Ultimate Guide to the Luxury Consumer Market. http://www.unitymarketingonline.com/cms_luxury/luxury/Luxury_Report_2007.php
More Insights into the Luxury Market
Unity Marketing's Luxury Report 2007 is the definitive study of the luxury consumers' buying and spending habits, written by Pam Danziger, the nation's leading expert on the 'new luxury' market and based upon the kind of in-depth consumer research for which Pam Danziger and Unity Marketing are known.
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