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By 2025, almost a third of luxury brand sales will be made online. Here’s a guide on how to succeed as a premium fashion brand in an increasingly digital world, and how to use ecommerce and performance marketing to your advantage.
In the past, many premium brands were resistant to adapting to the evolving digital world, feeling that ecommerce and digital marketing went against their consumers’ desire for exclusivity.
But the pandemic has caused a significant shift in the way people shop, with consumers moving online as physical stores shut. In 2023, 81% of shoppers are now choosing to research online before purchasing in-store and luxury shoppers are spending more time online than ever before.
Not only this, but digital presence is also crucial for capturing the premium shoppers of tomorrow - Gen Z, the digital generation. Although this cohort is only at the entry stage of luxury consumption, they will soon gain purchasing power as they start to enter the workforce. By 2035, it is predicted that Gen Z will make up 40% of the global luxury market.
Ecommerce and performance marketing can unlock huge revenue potential for premium brands. The key is making sure that you speak to the core values of the premium consumer:
Exclusivity - premium consumers are prepared to spend more because they feel that they’re buying something unique that the average shopper wouldn’t have access to.
Quality - premium consumers are looking for high-quality items, and therefore the quality of your products needs to be highlighted in the digital space in order for your brand to position itself as premium.
Immersive experiences - in-store, the premium consumer enjoys getting a true feel for the product, and you should aim to mirror this feeling online in order to get consumers excited about the shopping experience.
Personalisation - premium consumers are used to receiving personalised recommendations from attentive staff in-store, and digital experiences should build in layers of personalisation to build an emotional connection and boost brand loyalty.
In order to appeal to the premium consumer, your performance marketing creative needs to connect with the core values mentioned above. Performance marketing creative in the premium fashion space should:
This is how you’ll show-off the quality of your products.Channels such as Instagram and Pinterest cater to highly visual content and offer a huge opportunity for premium brands to drive brand awareness and advocacy. The prevalence of premium consumers across these visual channels became clear in 2019, when Chanel became one of the most ‘pinned’ brands on Pinterest.
To position yourself as premium, make sure your imagery and video content is professional and provides audiences with a clear view of the products to draw them in. Leveraging video content will allow you to really bring products to life, as this format gives consumers a more three-dimensional perspective and feels more immersive.
Content should be aspirational to appeal to a premium consumer’s desire for status, so make the most of lifestyle shots, textures, hues, and models that align with your branding. All of your performance marketing creative should form a cohesive relationship with your offline branding.
Working with influencers is a great way to show off your products and create aspirational content, by associating your brand with a well-regarded advocate. These partnerships also allow you to widen your customer base through access to the influencer’s followers.
It’s important to choose influencers who are relevant to your brand - don’t just go after those with the biggest following. Think about demographics, their location, and whether their aesthetic and values align with your brand. Once these partnerships are in place, influencer content can be harnessed in performance marketing activity to drive results off-the-back of social proof.
If you want to take your influencer partnerships to the next level, consider running influencer whitelisting campaigns. Whitelisting allows brands to run ads using the influencer’s handle, adding to the authenticity of the social proof. It’s mutually beneficial, with brands benefiting from gaining more control over copy, captions, targeting and the shelf-life of the content, and influencers gaining more followers through access to a wider audience.
There’s also the option of dark posting, which means your brand can test different ad variants without cluttering up the influencer’s feed.
It’s not relevant, so keep budget-conscious vocabulary out of your ad copy. Although price-point messaging might be used by other tiers of fashion brands, your premium consumer isn’t concerned with big savings available to the masses. They care more about exclusivity and quality so focus instead on creating aspirational content.
That’s not to say that direct-response messaging should be ruled out altogether. Time-sensitive online offers through retargeting ads can be an effective way of re-engaging past purchasers or top social followers. This could be access to unique products or special rewards.
The key to positioning this as premium is by appealing to the desire for exclusivity - making it clear to the consumer that this is a privilege being offered to a select number of individuals. By rewarding your customers, you are more likely to create loyal brand advocates, drive word-of-mouth recommendations and benefit from social proof.
As discussed, Gen Z are the luxury consumers of tomorrow, so crafting performance marketing creative that resonates with them will allow you to harness an important growth lever.
Overlapping with the needs of the premium consumer, Gen Z are interested in immersive experiences. Unboxing videos that use enhanced sounds to create stimulation can be highly effective - taking consumers through the process of opening the parcel, feeling the materials, fastening buttons and pulling up zips. This type of creative is highly immersive.
Although some of your higher price-point products might be out of reach for most of the Gen Z cohort, you can rotate more accessible, entry-level products into your creative mix to allow these younger consumers a gateway into your brand.
Promotional creative is another way of connecting with Gen Z, for example by offering mystery boxes to new customers, something which has become increasingly popular amongst this group in recent years. Again, it’s crucial to maintain your positioning as premium by emphasising exclusivity through time-sensitive windows, unique stock, and number of products available.
When it comes to ecommerce sites for premium brands, the principles applied to performance marketing creative should also be applied here. Particularly important is the highly visual aspect, and you should aim to use content with professional-style photography to immerse potential consumers in your products.
It’s also important to have a website that is highly functional, as this helps to create a seamless user experience which feels more immersive. In addition to functional navigation, you can achieve this through your content by building in additional functionalities such as 3-dimensional imagery which can be rotated to show all angles of the product, zoom capabilities to offer close up views of the materials, and video content for aspirational viewing, which will help to bring your products to life.
All of this brings consumers closer to the in-person shopping experience which allows them to connect intimately with products and get a true feel for them before purchasing.
In addition to this, your site should:
Ecommerce sites give you the opportunity to appeal to the premium consumer’s desire for personalisation. You can do this through building dynamic landing pages tailored to their product preferences or previous behaviour.
Or you can take this further by building in style consultation functionalities. This can be an automated functionality which guides consumers through a series of questions, helping to personalise products to them whilst they’re on the site, or it could be a link to a live chat with a real assistant. Both instances are effective in mimicking the in-store experience of speaking to an assistant or consultant. Here is an example from Bremont, who have built in a Live Chat functionality.
In-keeping with performance marketing messaging, avoid budget-conscious call-outs which are not of interest to the premium consumer. Instead, opt for messaging which emphasises brand heritage and attaches a story to your products.
This sort of messaging can be applied across product pages and about us pages, as well as through blog content for long-reads. Utilising content marketing in this way can also help you to position your brand as a thought-leader in the industry. Here is an example from Fairfax & Favor, who position themselves through blog posts as thought-leaders in Rural Vogue.
First party data can be harnessed for email remarketing campaigns, unlocking a huge opportunity for building loyal brand advocates. It’s crucial to keep engaging with your customer base, whether this be through sharing newsletters, access to exclusive products, or catalogues to keep them up to date with new collections that might be of interest. You can also use this as an opportunity to let them know about upcoming events or draw their attention to other interesting content.
Don’t bombard them with emails, but just ensure that you are making regular contact. Emails should be minimalist and visual rather than text-heavy, to provide an experience in keeping with your website and performance marketing.
The emails should also feel personal, recommending products and events that would be of interest to the customer based on their shopping behaviour. Audience segmentation is therefore crucial in order to appeal to the premium consumer’s desire for personalisation.
As premium consumers spend more time online than ever before, brands need to adapt to and embrace the ever-evolving digital landscape. Ecommerce and performance marketing open up another avenue for brands to communicate with consumers. Through carefully crafted creative and ecommerce websites, premium brands can harness the core values of exclusivity, quality, immersive experiences and personalisation in order to effectively communicate with the premium consumer online.
If you have any questions about growing your premium fashion site on-site or through performance marketing, feel free to get in touch.