Millennials Are Redefining Luxury

Fendi launches ‘F is For’ campaign to tap the millennial market. Source: South China Morning Post

When one first thinks of the word ‘luxury’, brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Gucci undoubtedly come to mind. They are the expensive, lavish brand names that consistently roll out unaffordable bags, shoes and watches, season after season. However, regardless of their exorbitant prices, everyone still desires to own a Louis Vuitton handbag or a Rolex watch. Or at least that was what was wanted before. What then has changed?

People queuing for the Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration. Source: Financial Times

The answer? Millennials. They are the social media obsessed, big spending, narcissistic community born between the years 1981 and 1996, and they are the very reason why a transformative revolution in luxury retail has begun. Brands are now also having to face and deal with Generation Z, the Post-Millennials born after the year 2000. They are an updated, more extravagant version of the Millennials – yet another challenge seasoned luxury brands have to conquer. With Millennials taking up over a quarter of our population and holding over 200 billion in annual spending power, luxury brands need to catch wind of trends immediately if they want to survive in this new world of avocado-toast loving, selfie-obsessed Instagrammers. As 45% of luxury retail buyers are now increasingly Millennials, it is of utmost importance that luxury brands start to and continue to appeal to them. Luxury brands with a vintage focus have been playing it safe for far too long, releasing elegant designs that don’t have any real distinction other than the fact that they are luxurious and expensive. However, those tactics unfortunately won’t last for long in this ever-changing world dominated by Millennials.

What then is a good marketing scheme that luxury brands should use to push the appeal factor towards Millennials? Here, Branding Records will outline 5 solutions on how to bring traditional luxury brands back into fashion:

1. The WOW Factor

Millennials highly value individualism and self-expression, having a love of fashion that is both unique and quirky. They desire to possess items that they can wear and post about on social media that no one else has yet. Therefore, luxury brands need to ditch their traditional hues and start using bright, eye-catching patterns and colours on their products that will attract Millennial’s attention. The design needs to look amazing when shot for Instagram and stand out when a customer walks down the street wearing the product. It needs to be something new and exciting, as Millennials value experimentation and love combining random items of clothing to create a unique, individual style. Currently, Gucci is one of the only vintage luxury brands that is appealing to Millennials worldwide, with new fashion designs that are both unorthodox and unconventional. Their styles look amazing on Instagram and is honestly what every luxury brand needs to have – a visually attractive Instagram account page. Trust us when we state that an aesthetic feed on Instagram means the world to Millennials. They are far more likely to purchase a product that’s eye-catching and looks “cool” on Instagram compared to a boring product in a store that they can never see themselves posting about. Gucci makes it a point to create fashion that appeals to everyone on social media, in order to get as wide of a spectrum of people posting about their brand. During their show in the Milan Fashion Week, they had runway models carry severed heads instead of handbags. The shock factor of the event literally got every attendee posting about it online about the uniqueness and quirkiness of their event, which as a result exponentially grew their customer base. Their Instagram feed content is also consistently fun and trendy, displaying new designs that combine the traditional Gucci logo with eye-catching, bright colours and eccentric patterns. Gucci is a great example of a brand successfully re-inventing their image, transitioning from an elegant, traditional luxury brand to a fun, idiosyncratic, modern luxury brand! In the past, most people would have frowned upon an eclectic mix of pop colours and patterns, but now it is all the rage! It’s time to leave the past. Ditch the boring, traditional colours and revolutionize your brand – for the better!

2. Experiences VS Products

Luxury no longer refers exclusively to expensive shoes, bags and watches. The term has now broadened to include experiences like Uber-luxe travel and music festivals. The fact is, Millennials highly prefer experiences to physical things, preferring to spend money on a beautiful dinner date than an extravagantly priced handbag. What vintage luxury brands need to implement therefore is the idea that luxury shopping IS an experience rather than just an online transaction. Increasingly more social media and digital platforms are now creating interactive experiences that are accumulating a large following – if your brand uses an Instagram marketing scheme such as a video campaign, you’ll be giving your customer an online experience which will be exactly what they’ll love. In order to advertise your product successfully to Millennials, it’s absolutely imperative that your brand has a strong online presence. Earn customer loyalty through experience innovation by having your customer immediately click on your Instagram post and link them to an inspiring video or a creative website. They’ll undoubtedly appreciate it more than just buying your product in a store because of the simple fact that they were taken on a journey. Give your customers an unforgettable experience, not just a product!

3. Collaboration!

The next step to up your social media game is investing and collaborating with Instagram influencers. Older, famous millennials like Cara Delevingne and Gigi Hadid are some of the most beloved stars in this Millennial pop-culture world and are making a permanent dent in the fashion industry, by being key Instagram influencers. They are the epitome of style, with huge followings on their social media profiles. Whatever brand or product Cara or Gigi wear, it’s certain that a wide number of Millennials will eventually be wearing them too! With a massive influence over Millennials, they are drawing their attention and desire towards luxury brands again, such as Gucci, a prime example of a luxury brand that is currently creating meaningful and relevant content. Gucci have their Instagram influencers wear their brand and post about it on their accounts, for within minutes, not only do they achieve greater brand awareness but sales towards the posted product also increase!

GucciGram campaign

Gucci has also collaborated with teen sensations like Harry Styles to promote the brand, as he is a celebrity that appeals to both teens and Millennials. As a result, collaborations with key influencers can prove extremely successful, as it will undoubtedly reach a wider range of people who love to emulate their styles.

4. Keep up with the trends

Luxury sneakers. Luxury jumpers. Luxury everyday items. All these clothing items that are generally seen as normal and basic can now be seen as luxurious. Take for example, the skate brand Supreme. This brand sells highly priced sweatshirts, hats, coats and everyday items that are seemingly luxurious to teen millennials. But what exactly makes Supreme so popular you may ask? Essentially, they transformed streetwear into luxury and made it appealing to Millennials by marketing it through social media as an extremely exclusive brand. By creating the perception of exclusivity, wearing any Supreme item instantly makes you cool, insta-popular, and a sure-fire hypebeast (a person who buys products simply to impress others).

Virgil Abloh, creative director for Louis Vuitton and founder of Off-White, with Kanye West. Source: MTL Blog

In one instance, Celebrity Kanye West posted a picture of himself wearing the Supreme red and white box logo, and everyone immediately raced to buy the exact same item of clothing that he was wearing. Singer A$AP Rocky was also captured by paparazzi wearing a cap with the box logo adorned on it and everyone was wearing it the following day.  These huge rapper celebrities make the clothes feel ‘exclusive’ and give the brand this rare sense of ‘swag’ that is so representative of the Hip Hop community. As a lot of current popular music is coming from the rap genre, hip hop culture has seriously taken over the world, making Supreme products even more desirable to own. At this point, whenever their online store releases any new product, it instantly sells out in minutes. Supreme is so loved by all that it even captured the attention of international luxury brand Louis Vuitton! The vintage luxury brand released a new campaign entitled ‘Louis Vuitton X Supreme’- which proved extremely successful for them as it led to huge increase in sales straight after its release. As so much hype was created around the campaign, people literally queued for days to get into the store. This has essentially set the standard that every luxury brand needs to aim to reach.

5. Shortage drives desire

In this digital age of fashion, Millennials are yearning to stand out. Not only do the desire to possess things that are currently trending, they also want to own products that no one else has, in order to stand out and show off online. Brands that fuel demand by releasing and creating limited-edition products are the brands that are becoming more and more successful every day. When luxury brand Louis Vuitton created a campaign in collaboration with Supreme, they released a special edition of the LVMH owned luggage brand: Rimowa in April 2018, in a red aluminium case with the white Supreme logo plastered all over it.

Source: Sharp Magazine

As soon as it released, it was sold out in the matter of 16 seconds. 16 SECONDS! The key takeaway here is that the appeal is all in the limited stock. This is basically the concept of making one feel that they need to either buy it now or miss out on it forever. If a product is accessible to the masses, it ultimately becomes less desirable. Compare that to a product that is made in limited edition which instantly creates an aroma of specialty around it, causing demand rates to immediately increase. Therefore, always remember, the more limited supply a product has, the more desirable it will become.

Source: VCG

In conclusion, as Millennials are becoming the most important retail demographic in the world, it is of utmost importance that luxury brands make it a point to create content and designs that will appeal to them. If not, new, upcoming brands will eventually dominate and become the new trends, with all the vintage luxury brands becoming things of the past. If you do not want your brand to become a distant memory, follow Branding Record’s top 5 solutions to survive and conquer this new world of Millennials!