The Video Opportunity for Luxury Brands

22 Mar, 2017, by Neil Cunningham

Luxury brands have long been plagued by the inability to truly master video – views and shares are low in comparison to more mainstream counterparts, and achieving widespread resonance has proved elusive. This is a reflection of the market – affluent and high net worth audiences are time poor, low in numbers, and security conscious. The opportunity for luxury brands is that video can educate quickly and more immersively compared with longer form content or static advertising. The emotional canvas of film makes it tonally rich as a medium, and delivers the poeticism and authenticity that HNWIs seek. By thinking about the lack of the engagement from affluents and HNWIs as the core of the issue, and a greater focus on distribution as the solution, we are able to reframe the tension and help luxury brands to deliver against previously unachieved expectations.

In the cluttered landscape of video content, luxury brands are not making the most of the video opportunity. No luxury brand made it into the top 25 most viewed brand videos of 2016. ‘Organic’ reach is incorrectly relied upon to deliver significant numbers. Reach is limited, and cost is very high in comparison. In a competitive marketplace, these tensions are only set to deepen further and put luxury businesses at an unfair disadvantage.

Affluent and HNW audiences are much less likely to share online. 58% of the UK population earning over £150k use social media, however, only 21% actually post or share with any regular frequency (YouGov March 2017), significantly under the national average. This helps us understand why luxury brands get far less traction online than mainstream brands; you are speaking to a group of people that don’t interact much on social media, making organic momentum for a piece of content hard to achieve. Whilst there is an appetite for the right content, we are targeting a relatively small pool of appropriate people, and a confident group that prioritises privacy over showing personality via posting and sharing.

Digital publishers are also not adapting content well enough for differing screen sizes and audience motivations; the mindset hugely differs when watching videos for entertainment, education, or shopping. Richard Ascott, Managing Director of Just So Content Agency agrees that the landscape has changed. “As media has evolved, we have learned to consume an enormous variety of film and video across a seemingly endless range of screens. At an almost subconscious level, we recognise the difference between entertainment, advertising and utilitarian content, and a business that does not consider the true purpose of their work or where it will live from the outset cannot expect to connect as effectively.”

Luxury and premium brands can use film to more efficiently and effectively tell their stories and engage their audiences’ imagination. The path to this success point is not easy, but it is logical. Creative testing must be taken more seriously, meaning thoroughly exploring opportunities such as interactivity (bringing a meaningful action for brand as close to the point of engagement as possible) and A/B testing end frames to properly understand the most compelling call to action.

The frequency and rhythm of the storytelling is also crucial; the consumer journey should be at the heart of any digital distribution plan. Plotting out the right sequence of ads following video exposure isn’t happening – sequential targeting with product messages or native content helps start a more varied and personal dialogue as opposed to the bombardment badly planned retargeting campaigns deliver, which will rightly be taken as patronising.

Of course, audience understanding is where all digital success stems from. What do we really know about our audience, where are they, what content are they interested in, when are they most receptive, relaxed, responsive? The variations of attitudes, behavior, idiosyncrasies, and psychographics included within any target audience exemplifies the fact that relying on organic reach or the unusual phenomenon of organic virality just won’t work, and cannot be relied upon. It’s hard to plan, it’s even harder to control and this leads to a huge amount of marketing investment being wasted every month on video content that doesn’t reach it’s potential.

We believe there are many effective methods of distribution that allow us to speak effectively to affluent and HNW audiences:

  • Carefully managed programmatic advertising
  • Highly targeted & optimised social advertising
  • The ever increasing scale available in In-stream video

Beyond this (and potentially even more exciting for us at Cream) it is bringing video content into the traditional media world through laser targeted television & cinema advertising that can add real credibility & impact to a digital campaign.

Achieving success, for us, is about digging deep into the audience profile. Despite the cautious and undemonstrative nature of current HNW audiences, we know that their online diffidence is indicative of taste, motivation, and aspiration, which is the life-blood to most luxury and high-end brands. High impact video is therefore perfect for this audience.

Clever, properly monitored, and well optimised distribution makes video content a sound investment for luxury brands. This always starts with holistic planning which puts the consumer journey at the heart of the distribution and fully unites creative planning with media strategy. In doing so, the impact that a luxury brand can have on their complex audiences fully rewards the effort and investment involved.