Spare us the clichés.

Picture a ‘luxury’ consumer lifestyle: The champagne. The red carpet. The Learjet. 

OK, hold it right there. Clichés like this appeal to advertisers because they provide a kind of shorthand; a way to say to the wealthy consumer, “we’re talking to you”. But they also say something else: “We have absolutely no idea how you actually live.”

There’s as much diversity in the lifestyles of the wealthy as in any other consumer segment. But that doesn’t mean they’re beyond reach. 

When you look at the behaviour of the modern luxury consumer, about to be dominated by the millennial segment*, it’s easy to see that the real-world is very much where they live: uncovering unknown brands in quiet corners (both physical and virtual). 

Modern consumers have started interacting with brands, often years before their first purchase.  This means the messages from brands need to resonate with them, not polarise or patronise them, wherever they are in their journey with that brand. So yes, be aspirational, but not clichéd or homogenous. After all, how can a naïve consumer differentiate between brands if they play to clichéd stereotypes?   

Marketing and advertising stories need to transcend the ‘this if for those who live this lifestyle’ to ‘this is for those who want to step into this lifestyle’. 

Brands like Missoni , the Italian fashion label, are challenging this cliché. Using editorial style content to engage their future customers, they have created an accessible and easily understandable world. 

Tactics such as behind-the-scenes content, staff interviews or user generated content give brands the opportunity to challenge the clichés and make premium and luxury brands approachable to a new generation of consumers. 

Porter Magazine curates a world of high fashion and exclusivity. But across a clever mix of channels, it uses a written and visual language that is as accessible to a teenager in the suburbs of Seattle to the most experienced luxury consumer in the sixth arrondissement of Paris. 

We’ve been working with Bentley to challenge the clichés of the luxury automotive world. In their most recent campaign we placed their model, the Continental, in a series of spontaneous scenes captured by photographer Greg Williams (@gregwilliamsstudio). Each story engaged consumers with an extraordinary image of a global icon, before encouraging them to explore the world of Bentley further. Read more here.

*According to American Express Business Insights (AEBI) report, published in February 2012. This revealed that in 2011, US millennials increased their spending on full-price luxury fashion by 33%, and on luxury jewellery by 27%. These were the biggest gains in spending for any age group – making it a segment that luxury brands cannot afford to neglect.

Other Stories: