Listen for the Stories

Source: Fashion Collective, Nov 2011

“If you want to be a great luxury marketer, forget about marketing. Think about life. Listen for the stories. Then you’ll be a great luxury marketer.” – Dr. Bob Deutsch

What he wanted to address was the question, “What is the human experience of luxury?”.  One of his core messages was that if luxury marketers are only striving to understand their audience as a consumer, instead of as human beings, then true success will not be achieved.

Both search and social have changed the purchase. The role of a person has shifted from the person as a viewer, to the person as a participant, and recently to the person as a content-creator. 

The output of this has transformed what was once products representing the brands, to now be “me” as a brand.

While many would argue that luxury items fulfill two basic emotions for people: either display (“look at me”) or comfort (“this feels great”), Dr. Deutsch enlightens us to the notion that luxury isn’t either of these things. Rather, with a luxury product or experience, we as individuals are able to expand our own ideas of ourselves. It is when this happens that a person becomes emotionally attached to a brand and adopts the brand into their own sense of self, an act that is significantly more potent than mere brand or product loyalty, because it involves a person’s feelings about themselves.

He challenges brands not to focus on enhancing the brand experience, but on trying to make their brands a venue for people’s own expanded experience of themselves.

The ultimate goal is for a person to believe and understand on a deeper level that through this luxury brand, they can become more of themselves. In this way, luxury brands are the “yellow brick road”, the path by which a person takes a journey through the brand and ultimately finds out more about themselves along the way.

Luxury marketers would be better served to focus not on interests, but on people’s identities and stories.

Further, people don’t wholly live in the present. Rather, they try to translate their nostalgized past into a hoped-for future, and they look to brands and products to help make this translation in a way that expands their own identities.

What does this mean luxury marketers should actually do?

Dr. Deutsch recommends that both online and in-store, luxury brands create product displays designed to do four things:

-Slow the consumer’s perception of time.

-Increase the consumer’s intensity of focus so that they can excite their own self-referring reverie (When time disappears, focus takes over leading to sensuality, imagination and self exploration).

-Conversational abilities that allow a person to build their own narrative

-Cultivate a tribal experience, not a social network. Social networks are good for expression, but not good for conversion or action.

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