Luxury has traditionally focused on the in-store and in-person experience, so how has 2020’s shift to digital communication impacted on brands’ relationships with consumers? Next week's Festival of Luxury Marketing will answer this question and more, with a focus on the new ‘language of luxury’: how do we communicate with the luxury consumer now?.
Tom Marchant, Founder; Sophia Kay, Brand Strategist; and Adam Larter, Co-Head Business & Strategy at Studio Black Tomato will be joined by Samantha Strawford, Brand Communications Director at Belmond; Carla Filmer, Chief Marketing Officer at Manolo Blahnik; and Colleen Caslin, CEO of Jessica McCormack, for an exploration of the importance of storytelling, developing the right tone of voice, and how e-commerce can provide as rich an experience for the luxury customer as the traditional bricks and mortar.
Studio Black Tomato is part of the Black Tomato Group and Sophia and Adam are the authors of the Language of Luxury – original research as part of the Festival of Luxury Marketing.
How have the events of 2020 impacted on how your brand or business communicates with your customers?
In terms of Studio Black Tomato, as a creative agency, our current focus is twofold – educating and supporting our current client set as well using our expertise and point of view to help people we may not have previously spoken with but could do with our assistance. With a lot of our client base within the travel and hospitality sector we know the instinct is to slash marketing budgets. But the discussion we are having is, for them to survive and protect what they’ve worked so hard to create, and to protect the jobs of their employees, they need to invest. This is where Studio Black Tomato’s place within the Black Tomato Group is incredibly valuable to us.
We are not expecting any immediate return on sharing our expertise and opinions on changes to marketing. However, being able to share thoughts with partners of Black Tomato and clients of Black Tomato Agency helps build these relationships and strengthen them for a time in the future when their ability to spend returns. Not only that, but having access to the product team within Black Tomato gives so much more value to our clients within the travel and hospitality space, where we are able to advise appropriately on the very quickly changing nature of travel — which countries are re-opening, where people are starting to book and how to handle messages of health and hygiene.
What has been the biggest marcomms lesson you have learnt since March?
For us we are talking to our clients a lot about the difference between the messaging you “can” communicate and “should”. We have divided these messages into “education” and “inspiration”. There so many “education” messages (which services are still available, when you will re-open, what safety procedures you are taken) that we often forget our inspirational messages. The other point of looking at these two groups of messages is that we can advise where and when you should use one message over the other. The educational covid messages are important for a brand to have – but they should live on a website where a consumer goes looking for information – they are not necessarily an inspiring Instagram post.
What do you believe are the ‘new marketing luxury rules’ for the ‘new normal’ ?
We talk a lot about the lessons learned from the financial crash in 2008. There was a big shift then from financial services brands toward a marketing of sensitivity and humanity. We feel that this change is what is happening again and will stay with us but even more so than ten years ago. That last big shift in marketing was about brands being honest, brands being more human. Now the luxury consumer responds very positively to the intimate marketing which is everything that we understand about honesty but more so. Its about letting you in on a secret, about showing behind the curtain but not to everyone. Its about looking for moments to pick up the phone and share how things have been rather than sending out a mass email.
What can we look forward to hearing you discuss this September?
In the current climate - sensitivities around tone of voice and language have never felt more important. Working predominantly with luxury lifestyle brands, it felt timely to understand, challenge and unpack the language within our category – for the purpose of our research we call this ‘the language of luxury’. In September, we will be presenting key insights from our interviews with leading brands on this topic.
We will discuss what makes the language of luxury - from humour, to formality to simplicity - as well as exploring the challenges and opportunities this language faces, from carving an ownable space in a well-established market, to adjusting to an ever-evolving digital landscape. Looking ahead, we will share our thoughts on what the “New Language of Luxury” is, not only post-Covid but in relation to a need to engage and react with sensitivity and kindness to pressing social, political and cultural movements.
What headline insights will you be sharing?
We will cover everything from the role of formality in luxury language to whether the language of luxury is just about having a strong brand identity. Below are some of the key insights explored:
Why traditional signposts of luxury – five-star, premium, world-class – can limit differentiation and cut-through.
The relationship between the language of your brand and that of your audience – whether it’s about mirroring how they speak or simply understanding it more deeply.
How the language of luxury has and is already shifting in relation to the pandemic – more sensitive, subtle, nuanced - creating a new landscape with parallel challenges/ opportunities for brands to stand out.