Companies often target luxury goods to people who are willing to buy additional products due to an increase in income (Pham & Pearce, 2019). Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel are commonly known luxury products in the fashion industry (Management Association, Information Resources, 2018). Similarly, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, and Bentleys are examples of luxury products in the automobile industry (Schermerhorn & Bachrach, 2020). Products offered in these premium-marketing segments are often of exceptional quality, as a justification for their different pricing and packaging strategies (Kotler, 2019). Broadly, luxury goods are designed to appeal to high-income buyers and are often presented as goods of ostentation, at least to the extent that they satisfy high levels of human needs.
The relationship between income increase and expenditure is often disproportional, with the expenditure of luxury items becoming a significant part of overall expenditures as one’s wages rise. People who engage in this kind of expenditure often make such purchases because they help to increase their self-esteem and nurture a sense of belonging by buying items that appeal to a niche market (Pham & Pearce, 2019). Consequently, by design, it means that luxury products are meant to satisfy the needs of a few buyers (Lemon & Verhoef, 2016). In other words, luxury branding is defined by the ability of a company, or group of marketers, to fulfill the needs of a premium group of buyers.
Marketing luxury products is an important part of branding because it communicates a company’s value to its customers. Therefore, firms use branding techniques to differentiate their products from those of the competition (Pham & Pearce, 2019). Consequently, developing a powerful brand is an important justification for charging a premium price (Kotler, 2019). Relative to this statement, researchers claim that marketers should be cognizant of the characteristics of the target customers because each group has unique needs that appeal to their specific circumstances and requirements (Pham & Pearce, 2019). For example, luxury marketing has been associated with niche marketing because of the exclusivity of products or services offered on the platform (Kotler, 2019).
In this review, we will indicate the path for future research based on the findings derived after analyzing several related published articles. The investigation will be keen on highlighting strategies that can be adopted to further enhance the effectiveness of marketing campaigns based on the varying needs and preferences of customers worldwide. The centered effects of targeted advertising on the process of marketing luxury goods define these paths. Overall, the main intention of undertaking this literature review is to improve our understanding of marketing campaigns that have been adopted in luxury marketing by examining extant literature. The information will be pivotal in developing a model for enhancing the current thinking on premium marketing and advertising. The plan will make it possible to understand the future direction of marketing research effectiveness in this area of promotion.
Outline of Topic
It is important to find a marketing strategy that is distinct to specific consumers because of changing tastes and preferences of different classes of buyers. Although luxury marketing is not a new phenomenon, changing macro and microeconomic patterns, including social influences, are ever-changing and can influence the effectiveness of these marketing plans (Beig & Khan, 2018). Therefore, it is important to review the socioeconomic factors that affect buyer behavior to maintain an effective marketing campaign strategy. This is especially true in a fast-changing and dynamic business environment characterized by national, industry, and global forces that could influence buyer behavior.
The luxury goods segment is the most vulnerable category of marketing to be affected by the above-mentioned forces because of its demand elasticity. In other words, luxury goods are different from other classes of goods and services because they are more sensitive to changes in income and market forces (Lorenzo-Romero et al., 2021). This is unlike inelastic products, such as fuel or food items, because it is unlikely that consumers will stop buying them because of changes in income. However, luxury products define a category of goods that customers can do without. Therefore, whenever there is a reduction in household income, consumers are likely to postpone plans to buy such products, thereby leading to a significant fall in demand (Management Association, Information Resources, 2018). This sensitivity to microeconomic forces makes it more vulnerable to changes in market dynamics. Consequently, there is a need for periodic reviews and updates to determine whether existing marketing campaigns will flourish in such an environment. Similarly, such information could be useful in recalibrating marketing campaigns to be more sensitive to the economic realities and needs of new customer demographics.
The importance of analyzing the marketing strategies for luxury brands in this study is also rooted in the sensitivity of premium products to negative stereotyping and poor branding. This means that luxury goods companies are at more risk of a fall in demand if their brands are associated with negative imagery in the minds of their customers. These companies often endear to protect their image always because their success is pegged on conveying a superior value above what competitors offer (Lemon & Verhoef, 2016). Therefore, if there is negative imagery associated with any of their products, doubt could simmer in the minds of their customers about the credibility of the brand in the first place. Such an eventuality would undermine the brand’s position, especially in the context of its competitive appeal. Given that the luxury goods segment is sensitive to negative stereotypes, poor branding or marketing strategies could undermine the efficacy of existing marketing campaigns. Therefore, in this context of analysis, it is pertinent to review strategies chosen to market premium products to new and emerging groups of buyers because changing social, political, and economic factors are impacting business and customer behavior.
Critical Reflection on Methods
Based on the varying characteristics of the systematic and narrative review methods, the researcher used the narrative review technique to undertake the study. This type of analysis does not follow a specific way of obtaining research evidence because of the freedom it offers researchers in accomplishing their goals, as described above (Scott et al., 2020). Instead, it gives them more flexibility in searching and analyzing articles that suit a specific research topic (Peer et al., 2020). The justification for using the narrative review method in the present investigation is rooted in its ability to gather information from a spectrum of sources to address a specific research issue. The narrative review technique was appropriate to use because it allowed the researcher to investigate the breadth of knowledge needed to effectively address the research topic.
The narrative review method also gave the researcher an opportunity to canvas both qualitative and quantitative texts in addressing the research topic. According to Kotler (2019), both sets of data play unique but complementary roles in addressing marketing issues. In the context of this review, both sets of data complemented one another in the sense that quantitative information helped to define the context of the analysis, while qualitative data helped to explore the main subtexts of the analysis. The usefulness of each set of data was defined by its appropriateness in addressing the research topic. For example, the qualitative aspect of the investigation helped to review the unstructured elements of the analysis, while the quantitative elements of the investigation helped highlight the numerical aspects of the investigation, such as sales numbers.
The process of analyzing the current body of literature discussing strategies and plans for marketing luxury goods followed a structured approach, as recommended by Abidin (2016). The current review includes a review of articles that have been published within the past five years – from the year 2016 to 2021. The justification for limiting the analytical timeframe was to get the most recent articles discussing luxury branding because the field changes a lot due to current influences of technology and changing consumer attitudes in the society. Additionally, to get the required articles for review, the researcher followed two fundamental steps of article identification and review. The first one is the identification of academic and peer-reviewed journals from credible databases.
The source articles were obtained from various databases, including EBSCO Host, Emerald Insight, Sage Journals, and Google Scholar. These articles have a large repository of peer-reviewed journals discussing the current area of research, thereby explaining why they are the main source of leading journals. This search strategy yielded thousands of journals but the relevance of leading articles identified in each dataset was assessed based on the 2011 ISI Journal Citation Report impact (Osif, 2016). Those that had an impact factor of more than 0.5 were considered for review based on three key areas of impact assessment: consumer behavior, status-symbolism, and motivations for purchasing products. To make sure that all relevant articles were captured in the article review process, the researcher examined articles that had cited the selected articles of review. Emphasis was given to identifying those that had a high frequency of citation across multiple papers.
The focus on this stream of articles for review was on identifying factors affecting purchasing trends and consumer behavior among new groups of buyers. The analysis was aimed at understanding independent variables that were directly correlated with high sales or increased market share in the luxury market segment. The earliest works in this stream of analysis focused on highlighting quality considerations as the main driver for luxury marketing advertisements. This area of research emphasizes the technical attributes of various products and mechanisms for adding value to buyers. For example, Abidin, (2016) investigated the development of luxury products in the market and mentioned product functionality as being the main driver of strategy change.
Subsequent research has further expanded the basis for developing marketing campaigns by focusing on the subtle aspects of consumer behavior that appeal to the emotional value of luxury products as opposed to its technical qualities (Weinstein, 2020). For example, the ascension of one’s status, due to the purchase of a luxury good or service, is a core theme in most literature that explain consumer behaviors (Ulver, 2021). They argue that a culture of consumerism has created a new crop of buyers that are driven by the need to stand out from others by purchasing the latest and most extravagant items (Weinstein, 2020; Abidin, 2016). In this regard, their value for purchasing premium products is informed by this quest.
Two articles were notably important in advancing this school of thought. Fligstein, Hastings and Goldstein (2017) authored the first one and it explained human purchasing behaviors through sociological influences. From their arguments, it was possible to understand why status symbolism is a strong push shaping consumer behavior in the luxury goods market. The authors took a sociological approach to explaining this phenomenon and suggest that markets are structured hierarchically where those at the bottom of the pyramid will always strive to emulate those at the top (Fligstein, Hastings and Goldstein, 2017).
Stemming from the same reasoning, Fligstein, Hastings and Goldstein (2017) say this is irrational consumer behavior that led to the US housing bubble market crash from a consumer behavior perspective. Additionally, they pointed out this kind of behavior was an anomaly explaining consumer choices when income inequality is unaddressed in a society. The article by Fligstein, Hastings and Goldstein (2017) cited above is relevant to the current study investigating how to market luxury products to new consumer groups because it highlights gaps in cognitive thinking that shapes consumer behavior. More importantly, it explains how status symbolism remains a key driver of market growth in the luxury market sector.
The article by Shin and Mattila (2020) was the second primary article that anchored the literature review and it complemented the views of Fligstein, Hastings and Goldstein (2017) above by exploring the importance of status symbolism as one of the main drivers of high customer traffic in the tourism and hospitality sector. The authors found that consumers wanted to associate high status with positive attributes such as healthy eating (Shin and Mattila, 2020). It was also established that the acknowledgement of a high status in the healthy dining options of the customers was directly correlated with high levels of customer satisfaction (Shin and Mattila, 2020). This statement means that customers were more satisfied with their services when status was conveyed in their purchases. The same article also showed that consumers might derive status not only by purchasing luxury goods but also by getting premium services. Overall, this article was pivotal in explaining why status was an important part of consumer purchasing experiences in the luxury market segment.
Overall, the literature on marketing luxury goods continues to grow, buoyed by an increase in data from various companies and industries detailing their experiences in the market (Bol et al., 2020). The research is vibrant to the extent of explaining how technology and social media has changed how companies communicate or interact with their audiences (Wang and John, 2019). Current evidence also suggests that the market is fragmented, thereby necessitating the need to develop new marketing strategies and knowledge that appeal to different industries and organizations (Wang and John, 2019). Overall, marketing strategies for luxury products splits into two broad areas of development. The first one is a brand-oriented marketing plan and the second one is a customer-oriented strategy. Table 1 below provides a summary of the number of articles that were relevant to both themes.
Table 1. Summary of themes
|Type of Article||Number of Articles|
|Primary Research Articles||2 articles by Shin and Mattila (2020) and |
Fligstein, Hastings and Goldstein (2017)
|Customer-oriented Strategies||23 Articles|
|Brand-Oriented Strategies||23 Articles|
Understanding factors that influence customer choices in luxury brand marketing is important in maintaining the profitability of firms and industries because increased sales is commensurate with high profit margins possess a strong potential for growth (Bol et al., 2020).
During the past ten years, the pace of marketing research on luxury brand marketing has increased due to the role of technology in improving data analytics and marketing. Particularly, many researchers have used advanced data analytical techniques to probe the underlying motivations of consumer behavior and predict the main stimuli influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions (Getman et al., 2020; Zhao and Min, 2019). The goal of undertaking such analyses is to understand how to meet the needs of a niche target market. Current research focusing on the marketing strategies adopted by luxury brands show that most marketers have used data analytical techniques to understand their main motivations for purchasing luxury items (Rees-Roberts, 2020). Their primary impetus is to satisfy the need to own a high quality product or item and the second one is to gain social acceptance for owning a product that few can get.
Another way that the extant marketing literature on luxury marketing explains quality marketing is through quality considerations of their purchases, as opposed to the social appeal of owning such products (van Driel and Dumitrica, 2021). Customers who appeal to quality considerations believe that their selection of marketing products is driven by logic and pragmatism because their purchasing decisions are quality-driven (Hennighausen et al., 2016). Therefore, they easily find justification for making expensive purchases based on the expectation that these goods would be of high quality. Most works of marketing literature that highlight this point suggest that the appeal to quality is a brand-centered campaign that communicates an inalienable value of the company’s luxury products to its buyers – superior quality (Makrides, Vrontis and Christofi, 2020).
Quality is one of the underlying reasons for the focus on niche marketing, as a special subcategory of luxury goods marketing. It is defined by the ability to identify product features that appeal to a specific demographic group, while neglecting the needs of those that do not share the same liking (van Driel and Dumitrica, 2021). This strategy is more apparent in the social media field where the marketing strategies adopted by luxury companies target a specific demographic, while neglecting another (Lemon and Doll-Myers, 2018). For example, luxury goods companies rarely have a presence on social media because they are not chasing after every opportunity to publicize themselves. Instead, they are only visible to the right people at an opportune moment.
The network of articles that explain luxury goods marketing from a quality perspective emphasize the importance of performance as a function of the proper implementation of marketing plans (Xharavina, Kapoulas and Miaoulis, 2020). In this context of analysis, quality considerations satisfied two elements of analysis: the functionality of a product and the maximization of its emotional appeal (Xharavina, Kapoulas and Miaoulis, 2020). Product functionality was significantly influenced by quality concerns, whereby customers felt satisfied that the purchase of superior quality goods would not only bring the emotive appeal of luxury brands but also maximize their utility. Therefore, compared to other substitute products in the market, luxury goods are expected to have superior experiences both at functional and emotive levels (Beig and Khan, 2018). In the context of this review, successful companies shape their functional and emotive experiences to achieve common objectives while promoting the brand’s mystique by leveraging on its history (Cotter et al., 2021). This is why many luxury brands have a rich history and endear to preserve their heritage at all costs because they understand its importance in building a strong portfolio in the eyes of their customers.
Studies that have continued to center luxury marketing campaigns on quality considerations also recognize the importance of portraying scarcity in the development of marketing campaigns (Chu Lo et al., 2021). In other words, it promotes exclusivity in the use of materials for developing luxury products (Allan and Shavanddasht, 2019). This is the justification for the development of “Limited Edition” products in various types of luxury goods, including cars and shoes. The rationale for limiting the supply of such goods is to create scarcity in product development that would increase the value of the brand through limited supplies. Therefore, people who manage to buy these products consider themselves to be among the lucky few who are in a position to own them.
The same approach to product development is also true for products that have been manufactured using rare materials, such as gold or platinum (Siapera and Viejo-Otero, 2021). Sometimes, these products are used to develop regular goods as a value addition process thereby increasing their worth. For example, a gold-plated watch would be more appealing to consumers than a regular one because of the use of gold to make it, as opposed to regular materials (Stoldt et al., 2019). In this context of review, scarcity is a key feature of most luxury goods because a limited supply makes it possible for marketers to justify premium pricing and the complications that are associated with experiencing such services (Han, Kim and Ahn, 2021).
Pricing is another element of quality that emerged in the literature view. As mentioned in this report, luxury marketing is commonly associated with premium pricing. The role of the marketing campaign is to justify the set pricing point through the perceived benefits of purchasing luxury products (Tse and Tsang, 2018). Relative to this assertion, scholars have noted that companies selling luxury products always have to justify their high price points by conveying perceived benefits; failure to which customers may not be able to distinguish one product from another (Tse and Tsang, 2018; Han, Kim and Ahn, 2021).
The digital era, through the growth of social media has highlighted the emotional appeal of luxury brands to consumers (Gutiérrez-Cillán, Camarero-Izquierdo and José-Cabezudo, 2017). This development has led to a growth in the volume of literature that explores how companies have been using the power of social media to influence purchasing behaviors (Jiang and Ngien, 2020; Haenlein et al., 2020; O’Meara, 2019). To promote the ideology of status symbolism as a key driver of luxury branding campaigns, personalities have been linked to brands to influence people’s buying behaviors (Md Saad and Yaacob, 2021). Particularly, the inclusion of public figures in marketing campaigns to influence people’s buying behavior has become more common in contemporary society than in the past (Archer, Wolf and Nalloor, 2021). Indeed, aided by the growth of social media, companies have become increasingly reliant on certain personalities to bolster their brand profile through associated (Li and Katsumata, 2020).
In today’s digital world, most of this link is happening on social media where companies are collaborating with celebrities to create marketing campaigns that captivate audiences based on a company’s overall brand power as well as the celebrity’s social appeal (Stevens, 2021; Brydges and Sjöholm, 2019). This type of marketing campaign is responsible for the association of various sports personalities to notable brands (Kennedy, 2019). For example, Tiger Woods was once associated with Nike, to the extent that it became difficult to differentiate the two (Piastowski, 2020). In Formula 1, reigning World Champion Louis Hamilton has been associated with Mercedes Benz and the list goes on. Luxury companies are choosing to associate themselves with influential personalities to advance the status symbol appeal of their products (Kennedy, 2019). Therefore, whenever consumers buy any of their products they believe that they are living a life that their idols live (van Driel and Dumitrica, 2021). This gives them more social acceptance and, whether real or perceived, it makes them feel good about themselves. Therefore, the inclusion of celebrities is an important and common feature of luxury brand marketing.
Studies have also explored the marketing strategies adopted by luxury brands by analyzing them from a cultural perspective with Chinese consumers attracting the most attention. The focus on Chinese customers as a unique demographic group in the luxury market stems from the growing middle class in the republic (Cui, 2019). At the same time, there has been a rising class of opulent Chinese customers willing to spend money in luxury products. Studies that have focused their attention on this demographic group suggest that Chinese customers are driven by unique motivations in their luxury purchase experience (Jin, Moscardo and Murphy, 2020). The article by Zhang, Cude and Zhao (2020) was especially pivotal in understanding the main motivations for Chinese customers when buying luxury products because it highlighted the underlying motivations for consumer purchasing behaviors. The authors suggested that Chinese customers are mostly motivated by the need to save face and benefit from the direct behavioral control construct of luxury goods (Zhang, Cude and Zhao, 2020). Additionally, history of purchasing behavior was identified to have a significant impact on current purchasing intentions among this group of customers. In this regard, culture seemed to have a stronger effect on Chinese consumers’ purchasing behaviors compared to other groups of high-end buyers.
This reasoning is closely related to the social appeal of luxury goods highlighted in this paper and supported by the likes of Devanathan (2020), Nam and Kannan (2020). It suggests that people’s main motivation for purchasing luxury products is rooted in the social appeal they derive from owning them. In the case of the Chinese consumers, prior knowledge on luxury products was deemed a strong indicator of purchasing behaviors (Devanathan, 2020). Similarly, income variations among households had a significant impact on the buying intentions of luxury customers. These findings were developed after sampling the views of 308 luxury Chinese customers (Zhang, Cude and Zhao, 2020). They helped to provide a sample of the behaviors of Chinese consumers in the luxury market.
Alternatively, Wu et al. (2017) authored the second study that had a significant impact in our understanding of the behaviors of Chinese luxury consumers. The authors suggested that they were different from their western counterparts because they preferred to engage in inconspicuous consumption discretely. Comparatively, western high-end customers engage in the same kind of consumption loudly and with overt displays of wealth and social status (Duffy and Pooley, 2017). This finding has a significant impact in the manner marketers target Chinese customers because differences in culture, attitudes, and norms about inconspicuous consumption need to be communicated in the marketing messages to generate a significant impact on the population (Rein and Venturini, 2018). For example, subtle marketing messages may be used when marketing to Chinese customers. Conversely, overt displays of wealth and status could be used to target wealthy westerners (Wu et al., 2017). This difference in marketing strategies stems from the variations in cultural attitudes regarding inconspicuous consumption. The difference in attitudes between western and Chinese customers also contributes to discussions around the identity construction theory, which advocates for a culture-centric model of developing marketing campaigns.
The cultural distance between Chinese and western customers has been highlighted by several scholars who have tried to understand the implications of these influences on the marketing campaigns of Chinese and western buyers (Chu Lo et al., 2021; Jeong, Kim and Roh, 2021). Bettiol et al. (2016) developed one study that stood out from the rest and it pointed out that this cultural divide was a significant point of risk for western companies intending to set up businesses in China. Using the Case of an Italian company intending to start a business in China, the authors found that marketing capabilities and business designs were instrumental in determining the success of western companies in China (Bettiol et al., 2016). Consequently, it was established that businesses require a dynamic capabilities approach to maintain synchronized business operations across the cultural divide (Bettiol et al., 2016). This capability should allow companies to better adapt to the unique characteristics of Chinese customers and the feature is an asset to luxury companies whose success largely depends on their ability to maintain or preserve their global identity (Wu et al., 2019). Therefore, this assessment is useful in developing luxury brands with a worldwide appeal.
Debates surrounding the importance of buying luxury products due to their high quality fall within the category of buyers who purchase luxury products because they are works of art (Li et al., 2020). These types of work are focused on improving the emotional satisfaction of owning a luxury product because people have been made to believe that it is weak (Li et al., 2020). Given that some luxury brands are transferring their marketing efforts online, it is important to understand that about 50% of the purchasing behaviors of luxury goods buyers are influenced by online activity (Wei, Lee and Shen, 2018). This statement means that the messages consumers hear or see online about a specific product or service has a significant impact on their purchasing behaviors. Overall, a summary of this literature review is highlighted below with the two primary articles being the ones authored by Shin and Mattila (2020) and Fligstein, Hastings and Goldstein (2017). Additionally, 23 articles merited to be included in each of the two subcategories of themes identified as shown below: customer and brand oriented strategies.
Marketing luxury products to consumers requires the recognition of the value it brings to its buyers. As highlighted above, one of the most significant predictors of consumer purchasing behavior in the luxury brand market is the extent that the product becomes a status symbol after acquisition. Researchers recognized this kind of appeal before the advent of social media. Notable personalities in the marketing field, such as Malcolm Forbes, even said that “he who dies with the most toys wins” (Bradley and Vleet, 2021, p. 1). However, researchers who question the rationale of using materialism to promote sales have contested this view. They advance an ethical argument against this type of marketing by propagating the belief that people should not rely on material things to acquire their true status symbol (Kim, Shoenberger and Sun, 2021). Particularly, researchers who have advocated against the excesses of America’s materialism culture have been on the forefront in championing for this paradigm shift (Bradley and Vleet, 2021). Nonetheless, from a marketing perspective, the same phenomenon has been exploited on multiple fronts with many companies selling goods of ostentation and promoting the belief that the acquisition of more products would make people happier.
One distinct feature about companies that market premium products is their understanding of the needs and requirements of their customers. In fact, more than any other customer segment in the market, luxury goods companies have paid special attention to their customers, thereby enabling them to develop advertisement campaigns that effectively appeal to them. An intricate analysis of their marketing strategy shows that these companies fundamentally sell an idea to their customers. Often, this idea has unique and common characteristics that appear in nearly all economic sectors. They may include elegance, sophistication, and success as some of the main qualities of premium products and they appear in different market categories or industries (Binh, Thy and Phuong, 2021). For example, elegance, sophistication and success are evident in luxury cars as much as they are in smartphones and fashion (Correia, Kozak and Kim, 2019). Luxury goods companies know that their customers often search for these qualities when purchasing products. Therefore, they make sure that they possess these qualities.
Broadly, the conveyance of success and sophistication of luxury goods in marketing campaigns creates the notion that those who possess them are successful, while those who are struggling to have them should strive harder. This status symbol appeal drives sales for most companies (Abidin, 2016). It makes consumers believe that by buying high-end products, they are going beyond the mainstream appeal of these goods and expressing their desire to have something that they can desire or want to experience and still relatable. This appeal to customers shows that the concept of luxury is deeper than what a product conveys; it resonates with the customers’ perceptions of themselves and, by extension, their worldview.
The above findings demonstrate that luxury is an experience that has to be appreciated, experienced and savored. This is why many luxury goods companies package their products to fit this experience – from shopping, purchasing and unboxing consumers are treated to an experience like no other. They feel as though buying these products elevates them to a different category of buyers who are given special attention for having an impeccable taste.
Some studies that have explored this issue in detail show that status-seeking behavior is partly motivated by cognitive deficiencies in the minds of some buyers (Wang and McCarthy, 2020). Particularly, attention has been drawn to a specific category of consumers who buy luxury products to fill internal voids, especially when they are masking feelings of uncertainty or failure within them. This type of buying behavior is linked with criticisms of the consumerism culture that seems to have taken root in many western societies (Draper and McDonnell, 2018). The argument is that people who buy goods for the sake of the status it gives them need to be aware of the fact that they are consuming for the sake of it. By buying luxury goods, they display wealth and power, thereby indirectly communicating to others that they are better than them. In other words, the display of power is aimed at inspiring envy in some of them (Kovács and Horwitz, 2018). This behavior helped to birth the concept of conspicuous consumption, which refers to the ability of wealthy people to display their purchasing ability through the kind of products they, are able to buy.
Although consumers are often motivated by the social appeal of buying expensive products, it is important to appreciate differences in value required by different groups of customers in the same category. On one hand, there are customers who like quiet signals of status symbolism, while those who want overt signs of opulence (Littlewood and Holt, 2018) define another group. Both categories of buyers are likely shun methodologies that do not match their unique preferences. For example, customers who do not like overt displays of opulence are likely not to buy products that have open and visible logos (Kovács and Horwitz, 2018). Similarly, customers who prefer large and visible logos of luxury products may be hesitant to buy products that do not manifest these signs.
The above insights show that marketing luxury products is a complex phenomenon but quality, taste, and status have been deeply ingrained in people’s psyche to the extent that buyers believe that the lack of these properties could lead to significant challenges in believing the authenticity of luxury products (Eckhardt and Bardhi, 2020). In this context of analysis, the luxury branding strategy strives to maximize the highest price value for a specific product or service based on unique markers such as the heritage, country of origin and artisanship involved in setting up a new location.
Analysis and Critical Discussion
Academic research studies that use published materials as their main sources of information are often categorized into systematic and narrative literature reviews, each with its distinct features (Grant, de Graaf and Teunissen, 2021). As highlighted in this study, the researcher used the narrative technique, which works by allowing researchers to investigate the current state of research in a specific study area (Pinna et al., 2018). The context and theoretical bases of the investigation often play a significant role in determining the direction that such studies follow (Day et al., 2016). Comparatively, the systematic review method adopts unique techniques aimed at answering a specific research question (Liu et al., 2021). Therefore, they offer researchers minimal flexibility in exploring a research issue because the methodological approaches chosen are aimed at addressing one specific area of study. In this section of the analysis, the implications of this analytical process on practicing managers, policymakers, and academicians are explored.
Implications on Practicing Managers
The findings highlighted above reveal that luxury goods consumers are mostly motivated by two reasons. The first one is the need to own a luxurious products and the second one is the need to own a high quality product. In both instances, managers are encouraged to have some type of mystery in the manner they sell their products to consumers. Given that word-of-mouth communication could be responsible for up to 50% of the total sales of luxury goods items (Tse and Tsang, 2018), practicing managers should re-evaluate their importance in expanding the current market. This type of messaging structure is important in selling luxury goods items because it promotes a mystery around the development of products and more importantly nurture a brand culture that could manifest in a fanatical following.
The importance of creating a culture around processes involved in marketing luxury goods items is to maintain exclusivity in the purchasing process and in the acquisition of ostentatious goods in the market. This outcome could be achieved through various means, including transforming consumer buying experiences to reflect this expectation. Some luxury consumer brands have successfully integrated or employed these principles in their marketing campaigns with varying degrees of success (Molinillo, Ekinci and Japutra, 2019). For example, in the fashion and apparel industry, marketers of Le Labo perfume deliberately complicated the buying and use of the company’s products by introducing unique specifications or guidelines that have to be followed for their products to have maximum effects. As such, the company requires that each bottle of perfume sold to customers was hand-developed specifically to meet the needs of their consumers (Le Labo Fragrances, 2021). The preparation process is also done in front of the consumer for them to have this experience as well (Fragrantica, 2020). Part of the purchasing experience involves printing out the customer’s name on the bottle and dating it. The marketers and developers of the Le Labo brand went a step further to complicate the buying experience by requiring their customers to refrigerate the bottle in their homes for a week before using it.
This purchasing experience has not only been adopted in the fashion industry, but also in the food and beverage industry (Fashion Network, 2019; eHotelier, 2018). In line with its tenets, high-end restaurants have been forced to restructure their physical dinning spaces to give their chefs adequate opportunity to prepare food in front of the guests in the same manner as Le Labo perfume does it. This practice is mostly observed in fine-dining restaurants where customers are not merely served food but treated to a barrage of processes or steps that have to be followed before consumption happens. This is evident in how tables are arranged and cutlery availed in the dining experience (eHotelier, 2018). In these settings, restaurants prefer to observe known table etiquette rules and settings associated with fine-dining experiences. This strategy includes taking part in activities involved in service preparation, such as arrangement of tableware, lighting setting, observation of proper service etiquette, and maintenance of proper cutlery etiquette. The point of engaging in these practices is to maintain the exclusivity of the premium brand even if it excludes a greater percentage of the market.
Creating the above-mentioned purchasing experiences could require some practicing managers to be reeducated on processes that improve consumer-purchasing experiences in their various fields of operation. This group of professionals may also be required to undertake extra training because they oversee the activities of various teams in the organization. It is difficult to provide them with the requisite knowledge needed in implementing a successful marketing strategy without having the expertise to justify the introduction of new marketing strategies
Implications on Policymakers
The findings of this study are relevant to policymakers because they highlight challenges in implementing strategies across various market segments. From a policy perceptive, these insights are relevant in analyzing the competitive environment that companies, which sell luxury goods, operate. This uniqueness in business approach means that goal conflicts could arise as companies strive to balance the need to meet shareholder and legal interests. The difficulty of striking this balance means that current efforts to improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns in the luxury market segment has implications on practicing managers because they have to reshape organizational processes to realize maximum shareholder benefit and improve compliance with existing laws (Xu, 2019). Overall, these discussions may help to identify challenges that stand in the way of marketers to deliver value to their target markets and identify solutions that could expedite the consolidation of product development strategies across different platforms of strategy implementation.
Implication on Academicians
The insights highlighted in this document are critical to academicians because they may help to expand the body of knowledge regarding the development of marketing strategies for the luxury brand sector. At the same time, they provide ground for improving existing marketing plans aimed at targeting new segments of the market, such as the growing population of middle-income Chinese consumers. Therefore, the information generated in this study is likely to enrich the body of literature concerned with marketing to different segments of the market. Stated differently, the current research helps to improve our understanding of factors or variables affecting the efficacy of marketing strategies for Chinese and western buyers at a sociocultural level. Overall, this body of evidence enriches the existing streams of knowledge relating to luxury marketing in a non-western marketing context.
In this study, the researcher sought to investigate the state of current research relating to marketing strategies adopted by companies in selling luxury goods. The narrative review method was used to identify dozens of articles that focused on the research topic. These articles were retrieved from reputable databases, including, Sage Journals, EBSCO Host, Emerald Insight and Google Scholar. The results suggest that the body of evidence on luxury branding is growing and has transformed from one that only focuses on quality aspects of product and service development to another that appreciates the emotive appeal of branding. In this regard, the articles sampled in this review were categorized into two broad categories: customer and brand-oriented marketing approaches.
The growth and development of social media has changed the way luxury companies brand their products to reach segments of the population that were otherwise inaccessible. In line with this observation, this investigation highlights a trend whereby companies selling luxury products are collaborating with social media influencers to improve product appeal. It is likely that the success of luxury marketing strategies will continue to evolve on this platform. This study also analyzes luxury-marketing strategies from a cultural perspective by highlighting differences in marketing plans that are aimed at reaching a Chinese audience, compared to those that are tailored to appeal to a western audience. The findings indicate that Chinese customers prefer a subtle approach to marketing, while western audiences are comfortable with loud and overt displays of wealth and class. This is the main difference in marketing approach that marketers need to consider when targeting both sets of customers.
The most difficult task for me was finding out the right structure to use in analyzing the research materials. Furthermore, it was a challenge organizing the large volumes of literature that emerged from the broader data analysis process into specific themes that would help address the research topic. Particularly, it was difficult to manage the huge volumes of literature that came from different databases and find out the criterion for determining the relevance of each one of them to the research topic. This process was informed by the need to comply with the principles of the narrative review technique, which guided the literature review process. It outlined steps and procedures that the researcher needed to follow when undertaking such a review. Therefore, it was central to the analysis of the current literature and pivotal in understanding its relationship with past scholarly texts that have explored marketing strategies in the luxury segment.
Having read several papers that have explored strategies adopted in luxury marketing, I now understand the main motivations driving both consumers and customers in developing and implementing new marketing plans in the luxury market segment. However, I am skeptical about the effectiveness of implementing such plans in a highly diverse environment, as is the case today. I believe that although luxury remains a core attribute of these marketing campaigns, the growing middle class in most societies, not only in China, has created a new generation of buyers who are more inclined to purchase products based on their environmental or social appeal than any other consideration.
In this analysis, I have established that consumerism is a concept that has driven luxury sales for a long time. However, its effects may wane in the next decade as the modern consumer looks for a different motivation to buy luxury products. This statement means that there is a difference in the buying behaviors of customers worldwide and, regardless of their appeal to the to the luxury goods market, sociocultural considerations still play an important role in understanding the effectiveness of associated marketing campaigns. Consequently, companies that sell luxury products need to look for new ways that appeal to this demographic group when developing targeted advertisements. This view is supported by the works of Tse and Tsang, (2018) which emphasize the importance of understanding subtle cultural elements of marketing communications that have an overall impact on the effectiveness of promotional campaigns. This analysis need to be contextualized within the national and cultural confines of the target market because they explain consumer behaviors that are unique to a specific group of people, such as the Chinese, who are the focus of the current investigation.
Despite getting insights into the cultural influences of different market segments on Chinese and western buyers of luxury products, I still feel that I have deficient understanding in comprehending differences in consumer behaviors among different classes of luxury good buyers. Particularly, I am interested in understanding how age differences help to determine the effectiveness of marketing campaigns at both regional and national levels of the Chinese society. This area of inquiry is important to the current study because the Chinese society is not a homogenous one. Therefore, naturally, its diversity is likely to be represented at the luxury goods market level. In future research, I intend to probe this line of inquiry further.
Overall, I have learnt a lot about the evolving body of knowledge on luxury marketing and I look forward to implementing some of the strategies mentioned in this review at home and in my local business. Particularly, the insights I have learnt about marketing to Chinese customers will be instrumental in helping me to develop effective marketing campaigns in my private business endeavors, as the knowledge presented in this report is relevant to my field of business and study. Previously, I believed that developing sales strategies in the luxury market segment was akin to a monolithic way of thinking, but I have discovered many layers of analysis are at play and need further exploration. In future, I will develop marketing proposals that seek to exploit some of these new areas of knowledge exploration, such as the effects of age in the development of marketing plans for Chinese customers. Broadly, these insights reveal that there are many ways of developing and implementing marketing campaigns to suit the specific needs of this unique group of buyers.
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