Luxury Brands Struggle to Be More Approachable


What is a business to do when their brand no longer appeals as strongly to their target market? In many cases, the answer is to modify the brand. Many brands in the luxury and high end goods market are undergoing this very transition. In many cases, the answer is to shift gears to create a more approachable, consumer-friendly image. However, this comes with a caveat: high end labels cannot afford to turn off their core, upmarket shoppers either.

It once seemed that the line between mass market and luxury goods was uncrossable. The average person shopped for average brands and dreamed of luxury goods, while the luxury consumer would never dream of using something meant for the masses. However, a poor economy has blurred these lines. Luxury shoppers are becoming increasingly budget conscious while luxury brands are no longer selling enough high end goods to remain comfortable. The result is that lines are being blurred.

One good example of this is at high end market Waitrose. Once a haven for the luxury oriented shopper, the supermarket now offers a budget line called Essentials. Toiletry brand Anatomicals is taking a similar approach, keeping price points low while focusing on its brand ‘story’ to woo upper class shoppers. The brand is offered in markets ranging from Harvey Nichols to Asda, with very little difference in price and zero difference in product quality and packaging.

Premium candy seller Hotel Chocolat also must walk a fine line between luxury appeal and mass market sales. While the brand is becoming more inclusive, selling goods at a wider range of stores, it also is introducing newer and more upscale limited edition lines that appeal to candy snobs all over the UK. With rare ingredients and vintage, heirloom breeds of cocoa from far-flung locales, these brands have clear upmarket appeal. However, these are sold in very small packages to allow even the average shopper to try just a bite of luxury.

Meanwhile, mass market toiletries are finding their way into premium washrooms. Baylis & Harding, for example, has grown in popularity among the upmarket shopper for its combination of premium feel and mass market pricing.

While this strategy may be initially good for the bottom line, it can have long term effects that are nothing short of disastrous. This is why the companies making these transitions are doing so under the guidance of branding experts. It can be difficult to change a price point without changing the core value of a brand, but a branding consultant knows how to make the shift.

Further, only certain brands can get away with this type of switch. While the luxury shopper might not mind using the same shampoo or eating the same candy as their employees, handbags and automobiles are another story entirely. In many cases, rarity is an essential part of the luxury brand, and moving to the mass market means losing one’s brand equity entirely. If you are concerned about the movement of your business’s brand, consult a branding and logo design consultant today.