How the Age of Big Data is changing luxury marketing

We work with several businesses that are marketing to high-end or affluent consumers, and like most marketers today, their efforts in luxury marketing are focused on two things: building their presence in the social media space and promoting their brands. Not to say that these goals aren’t important, but the preoccupation with channel and brand has blinded many to the huge opportunity they now have to discuss their brand with customers and prospects in new and more relevant ways, regardless of channel.

No two affluent consumers are alike.

Today’s affluent consumers are much smarter and more critical in their luxury purchase decisions than ever before. They have access to more sources of information and opinions (social media being just one). Yet they rely on their own decision-making capability in choosing the brands, products and services that will represent them. What’s more, they each have different motivators driving their purchase decisions, whether that’s their attitude about displays of wealth or their stage of life.

The one thing affluent consumers have in common is that they gravitate to those brands that deliver personally relevant communications through an appropriate channel and at the right time for their stage in the purchase consideration process.

Marketers have more information about affluent consumers than ever.

With today’s technology and tools, granular information about individual consumers is readily available. In fact, it’s more economical and manageable than ever, ready to turn into actionable strategies and tactics that extend across channels. Why then, do some luxury marketing plans continue to versionalize messaging based only on broad group criteria such as income or location?

Unleashing the power of “Big Data.”

Big Data includes several kinds of information:

• Descriptive (such as financial, demographic, psychographic and social data)

• Behavioral (specifically purchase activity, evaluation information, probability/credit/response scores, website activity and marketing activity)

• Attitudinal (including consumer loyalty, customer satisfaction, product and pricing survey data and behavioral affinities)

Marketing database applications such as SAS and Unica, and integrated marketing automation systems like Oracle’s Eloqua, Marketo and’s Pardot, have taken customer data out of the ivory towers of technology departments and have handed marketers the keys. For the first time, marketers can see all the factors that identify, explain and influence a consumer’s decision at once. This means they now have the knowledge to determine the most effective messages, timing and channels to push an individual prospect further along the sales cycle.

Maximizing returns across all channels.

The effective use of Big Data requires a bit of a rethink about how luxury marketing campaigns are designed and carried out. Rather than thinking in terms of “solo” tactics, the process becomes more like a symphony, where each musical phrase is built on another.

For example, we recently completed a campaign where we contacted our target consumer across several touches and several channels, with each communication either advancing our brand story line or motivating the consumer to take the next step in their exploration of our sales proposition.

Specifically, we designed a marketing automation solution that began with an email introducing the brand, product and offer, followed up within days by a direct mail piece that motivated them to explore unique microsites. Each action, from email to direct mail receipt to microsite experience, was tracked and evaluated to enhance our knowledge of the consumer and so that the subsequent touches could be fine-tuned to increase the likelihood of a sale.

A win-win for consumers and marketers.

Delivering more relevant luxury marketing communications to consumers by taking into account their attitudes, behaviors, consideration stage and preferred channels creates a win-win situation - and it's not just a luxury marketing strategy. The consumer receives only the information they’re ready to consume as they’re gradually “warmed” in preparation for being handed off to sales. And the marketer reduces costs and avoids the possibility of throwing away valid leads simply because they were sent too much information too soon.

Pretty interesting concept, eh?