By Marco Passoni
I saw a comment this week in a recent Future of Luxury blog which shocked me. Speaking to a brand ambassador, the author, luxury expert Daniel Langer, asked about brand storytelling and was told:
Only marketing believes in the story. For the rest of the organization, it is irrelevant. We focus on product.
To me, this way of thinking is extremely short-sighted and damaging to both the brand and the wider market. I have written in the past about how I am not talking about products anymore, as I believe the market’s focus should have moved on. We are building engagement and connections with shoppers which will generate better business in the long term. But it seems that for some on the front line, this is not the case.
Such a mindset forgets one of the key aspects of the luxury sector: excellence is not impressive anymore, it is the right to play. Every brand is promising and delivering exquisite products. If they are not, they have no place in the market and will drop out quickly. But if everyone is delivering great products and just talking about that, then everyone is saying the same thing.
If everyone is delivering great products and just talking about that, then everyone is saying the same thing
Such a setup is not just bad for each business, which cannot stand out and create repeat customers, but it is bad for the industry at large. It becomes a sea of sameness which is boring for shoppers. Why would they bother if there is nothing inspiring?
Brand stories and retail experience can make and break shopper engagement. I have told the story before of how I was drawn to a Birkenstock store in London by an enthusiasm for the brand. On arrival there, I found a long queue which was badly managed and then we were all randomly sent away. This is the danger of just focusing on shifting products for brands. You lose all personal connection, and you will drive away more shoppers than you attract. That is not a model for any kind of business.
What is more, just using stories in marketing is not the way to engage today’s shoppers. Consumers now are informed, connected, and engaged. They want to hear recommendations from others and they will research and see through marketing smokescreens very fast. A few passionate, engaged customers are much more valuable than a story which does not exist beyond a few press articles and billboards.
The story makes a difference in the modern market. It creates an engaging experience for shoppers
The story makes a difference in the modern market. It creates an engaging experience for shoppers who want a narrative, community and lifestyle which they can inhabit and interact with.
We are past the Mad Men days when brand stories were just baubles and smokescreens designed by marketers to charm and fool shoppers. Today, these stories are the lifeblood of a brand. They are the thing that leverages the past and creativity of the brand to build and guarantee its future.