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When and how to start holiday marketing for luxury brands

By
September 18, 2012

Lexus' December to Remember campaign

Although it is a good idea to plan ahead for the busy and lucrative holiday season, luxury marketers do not want to get started too early since consumers usually do not think about shopping until later in the year.

It would be a waste of time and money to start marketing too early for the holidays, especially since typical holiday promotions that involve discounts really do not apply for luxury marketers. Some marketers have already started preparing for the holidays, but it is not in their best interest to start marketing until at least mid-November.

“As retailers continue to inch up the start date on holiday marketing and shopping, it has actually become counter-productive,” said Elizabeth DeMaso, managing partner at Brenes Co., New York. “Most shoppers are not in the mindset to begin holiday shopping in October.

“And, if the efforts are not translating to sales, the marketing dollars are simply wasted,” she said. “While there is something to be said for capturing shopping dollars early, shoppers have been trained to wait for sales and specials and often will not commit before December.

“Holding your messaging and putting on the full press once they are ready to receive it is a more productive use of marketing dollars.”

Most wonderful time of the year
Luxury marketing should not start until at least around Thanksgiving.

“You need to plan early, but not necessarily start your holiday campaign early,” said Al Ries, chairman of marketing consultancy Ries & Ries, Roswell, GA. “Traditionally, most people do not think about the holiday until after Thanksgiving Day.”

Black Friday is usually known for discount shopping, so luxury marketers may not want to be associated with that day.

In fact, waiting until the week after Thanksgiving would probably be best, according to Mr. Ries.

Instead, most luxury marketers will likely use event marketing to try to get customers in-store.

“I think you will see more and more special events in which luxury marketers invite potential customers to special showings, or to meet special guests that have some relationships to the products offered for sale,” Mr. Ries said.

Consumers could also consider developing an app that assists in managing shopping lists or drives shoppers in-store, per Brenes’ Ms. DeMaso.

“By taking into account the stresses shoppers are negotiating, marketers can come up with relevant messaging and offers to increase their presence in shoppers’ minds and under their trees,” she said.

Another key idea is email, which many retailers will use for month-long campaigns.

“Since luxury marketers do not generally look to deep discounts to entice sales, they have adopted other practices that seem to have yielded success,” Ms. DeMaso said. “Month-long email campaigns that showcase different products each day are a great way to stay top of mind and give options to keep customers coming back for multiple visits.”

Window shopping
Another crucial component for this year is the in-store experience.

After all, what affluent consumers care about most is the experience, and the holidays are a great way to step this up at their retail locations.

For example, both Barneys New York and Harrods have announced their upcoming holiday windows to drive consumers in-store.

Both retailers have Disney-themed components that will likely attract children and bring up nostalgia from older shoppers (see story).

Also, marketers should focus on products that can be sold as gifts.

Likewise, Harrods and Barneys are offering Disney-themed products and pop-up stores to complement their windows.

For example, Lexus’ Season of Giving and big red bow programs helped consumers to see Lexus models as gifts.

“How many people would have thought about giving an expensive automobile as a holiday present?” Mr. Ries said. “Not many until Lexus launched its holiday program, which apparently has been a big success since they continue to use the same idea year after year.

“The best advice is to focus on products that might be given as gifts,” he said. “Not just ordinary products.

“People like to give gifts that have novelty value, so luxury marketers should promote unusual items.”

Final Take
Rachel Lamb, associate reporter on Luxury Daily, New York

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Rachel Lamb is an associate reporter on Luxury Daily. Her beats are apparel and accessories, arts and entertainment, education, food and beverage, fragrance and personal care, government, healthcare, home furnishings, jewelry, legal/privacy and nonprofits. Reach her at rachel@napean.com.

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