How to engage audiences in the luxury fashion sector

Whilst the customary response to an economically uncertain future would be to adopt a frugal lifestyle, the impact of three years of COVID restrictions combined with an impending climate crisis, has resulted in a desire amongst consumers to make the most of the here-and-now. McKinsey’s State of Fashion report predicts that global luxury fashion sales will grow 10% across the year, as shoppers look to ditch the self-restraint and splash the cash.

‘Living in the moment’ is one of the key retail trends for 2023 and businesses that can help provide consumers with spontaneous moments of escapism online and in-store are going to be at an advantage over their competitors.

But, the luxury fashion sector is a crowded market, which is why it’s vital that any brand in this sector understands how to attract consumers, turn heads, and stand out, especially if you’re targeting a luxury audience. We know what you’re thinking – easier said than done, right?

Wrong. Although ‘iconic’ brands are fortunate to have a well-established, loyal customer base and often, a rich heritage; thanks to an increasingly globalised market and easy access to the internet, newer brands can capitalise on areas that their competitors might not be excelling in and position this as their unique strength.

Once you have found your niche, it’s crucial to implement a hard-working PR and digital marketing strategy that will build prestige, attract a luxury audience, and compete for the spotlight. Below we’ve outlined our advice for how to do just that:

Enhance customer experience

As online retail continues to soar, premium fashion brands must get creative and understand how to authentically translate the traditional ‘luxury experience’ customers expect in-store, to online.

Experiential shopping is one tactic that can help to build customer loyalty. Brands that focus on customer experience and brand identity ahead of sales are often praised by consumers, as they appreciate and enjoy the feeling of being immersed in the brand’s carefully cultivated lifestyle, without the pressure of having to make a purchase.

For example, luxury leather goods house, Coach previously launched a ‘Life Coach’ pop-up, designed to pique the interest of Instagram users through three rooms: one designed after a New York City taxi that guests could graffiti, another after Coney Island with games and one with tarot card readers offering free readings. On the other hand, Dolce and Gabbana opened their own luxe clubhouse for millennials.

In the past, The North Face has also focused on delivering a more experiential shopping experience for their customers; their ‘XPLR Pass’ enables members to earn points when they make purchases, as well as when they visit specific national parks. Other perks include being able to take part in member-exclusive initiatives, such as a 5-day trail running experience with a professional runner and early access to product drops.

Building trust through third-party advocacy

Collaborating with credible influencers who are known for setting trends, idolised for their style, and loved amongst your core luxury audience is a well-established but effective way of building a brand. Nurturing relationships with brand ambassadors, when done right, works to strengthen desirability and advocacy for a brand if they are a true reflection of your goals and target audience. Consumers have become increasingly wise to false advertising, so partnering with someone who isn’t a good fit could also have the reverse effect.

Influencer promotion can also be an effective way of targeting a new luxury audience and bringing your brand to the attention of consumers who may not have otherwise looked twice.  For example, last year TikTok sensation and avid trainspotter, Francis Bourgeois became the face of the Gucci x North Face outdoor-inspired collection which comprises soft accessories, luggage, and shoes. The unexpected move from Gucci – which put Bourgeois in the same category as Harry Styles, Lana Del Rey, and Dakota Johnson – surprised and delighted both the industry and Bourgeois’ 2.9 million followers (some of whom will have been outside of Gucci’s usual audience).

The emergence of micro trends

Luxury fashion brands have traditionally relied on seasonal trend forecasting to decide what to design, produce and sell, with spring/summer collections debuting on the catwalk in September, ready to hit the shops six months later.

However, the increased awareness around sustainability has begun to shift the way in which designers are approaching their collections, with brands opting for a more considered approach that isn’t as tied to a particular season.

This has been exacerbated by the everchanging and fast-paced nature of social media – where many consumers take style inspiration from. Instead, microtrends have emerged, with a specific (and sometimes quite random) fashion item or aesthetic rising in popularity.

A good example of this is a sustainable fashion brand, the House of Sunny’s ‘Hockney dress’ which gained traction from specific micro-trending, resulting in it becoming in a cult classic worn by the likes of Bella Hadid and other celebrities alike.

Find out more about our consumer, social and digital services to see how we can support you with your communications strategy.

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