Luxury Marketing for Gen Z: How to Get it Right

Luxury Marketing for Gen Z places high-end brands at the pinnacle of digital experiences. Here’s how to win over the next generation of luxury customers.
Fanbytes | Luxury Marketing for Gen Z

In 30 seconds:

  • Gen Z will account for 40% of the luxury goods market by 2035. And they’re forming their loyalties now. 
  • Luxury marketing is changing. We’ve listed the ways brands can make sure they’re getting it right.
  • Psst. We’ve put together insider info for marketing your brand to Gen Z on TikTok with our Luxury Guide.

When exploring the term “Luxury Marketing”, what comes to mind?  

High-end craftsmanship? Exclusivity?… Gen Z? 

Fewer brands focus on the last one than you might imagine. But when you’re building a luxury marketing campaign, it’s Gen Z who can make or break its success – especially on social media.

Gen Z are the most discerning when it comes to digital marketing experiences, and as a luxury brand, you should be too. So, you need to understand the luxury Gen Z consumer and what makes them tick. In this article, we’re giving you the tips to outperform your competition.

Why should luxury brands market to Gen Z?

Gen Zers currently have approximately $143 billion in total spending power, which will only increase as their earnings grow. By 2025, millennials and Gen Z will contribute 130% of the growth in the personal luxury goods market. By 2035, Gen Z will account for 40% of the global luxury goods market

If brands are slow to engage with them, or break their promises, Gen Z are more likely to switch to a competitor. However, technology can make them into brand enthusiasts.

Notably, the percentage of Gen Zers that show loyalty to brands increases dramatically as they age. For brands able to effectively capture this demographic, there’s huge potential not only for their esteem, but for long-term loyalty. 

A short but powerful window of opportunity exists for luxury brands. If they can compete to create strong connections with Gen Z now, they’ll reap the rewards as this customer base matures.

Gen Z luxury marketing – the TikTok challenge

For luxury marketers reaching Gen Z, the natural move is their favourite social media platform: TikTok. After all, this is the site where the most Gen Z are. But marketing luxury on TikTok presents a unique challenge.

Unlike the polished, curated feeds of Instagram, TikTok thrives on relatable content. This is a difficult characteristic to harmonise with luxury.

Additionally, TikTok demands fast reactions. Often, challenger brands see success on TikTok by taking part in the social media platform’s latest trends. For luxury brands accustomed to planning content well in advance, that’s a difficult task.

But you can get luxury marketing on TikTok right. And when you do, it’s an unparalleled opportunity to add an advantageous extra dimension to your brand, while connecting to an enthusiastic – and valuable – audience.

Our guide on the Luxury brands on TikTok breaks down some of the best luxury marketing campaigns on the platform, and what brands can learn from them. It’s free to download – you’ll find it here.

TikTok marketing for luxury brands

The challenges above explain why many luxury brands have taken longer to join TikTok – but this presents a great opportunity for luxury brands to stand out.

Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Dior and Gucci joined TikTok in 2020. Versace joined in 2021. Chanel has a TikTok account, but hasn’t posted any videos. In the luxury fashion sphere, there’s plenty of space up for grabs on TikTok.

And that’s just fashion. Luxury beauty brands have fertile soil on TikTok, as the rise of Skincare TikTok and Beauty TikTok influencers attests. Luxury real estate is also thriving, as estate agents showcase top-of-the-range homes. Check out this example from Erik Conover (@erikconover) below:

Another sector with huge potential on TikTok is luxury resale. Gen Z are passionate about sustainability. When working with luxury resale platform Vestiaire Collective, Fanbytes identified the #ThriftTok community as an opportunity to reach Gen Zers who love finding second-hand designer pieces.

TikTok users look to influencers for advice and guidance on how and where to find the best items. It’s a great opportunity to partner with trusted influencers for advice – like you would expect from your most knowledgeable friend:

@miraalmomani @Vestiaire Collective letting me live my Y2K dreammmm !! #vestiairecollectivehaul ♬ I must apologise - PinkPantheress

The key to both these TikTok videos’ success? Connection.

Connecting luxury with Gen Z through trust

Gen Z trusts social media influencers more than other forms of advertising. Trust is vital for luxury e-commerce, as customers are parting with larger sums for a product they may not have encountered in real life.

This is even more true for Gen Z, who are young in the workplace, so their hard-earned cash is dearer to them. Influencer marketing is how you can help demonstrate that your products warrant their luxury status (and price tag).

Inspiring trust through influencer marketing is just one of the ways you can use TikTok for your luxury brand. But there’s more you can do. To inform your luxury marketing strategies, you should first understand what it is about TikTok that Gen Z likes, and what that says about them. We dig into this in detail in our article here.

If luxury influencer marketing sounds exciting to you, get in touch. We’d love to take you through the perfect luxury influencer campaign to make your brand shine on TikTok.

Reaching Gen Z: how is luxury marketing different?

All marketing solves a problem and fulfils a desire – even luxury marketing. A luxury candle is desirable, but it also solves the problem of what to get your newly-dumped best friend for her birthday. Get into the mindset of your Gen Z customer now, and your messaging will set a course for a strong relationship that lasts years.

For luxury marketing, there are certain rules that always apply. Taking a look at these – and how they intersect with Gen Z – will help you take your brand to them in a way that performs well:

  • Luxury brands don’t just sell a product. They sell a lifestyle. This means creating a world of the brand.
  • Luxury brands are exclusive. Not everyone has your luxury product. That’s the point. This speaks to the desire to be recognised.
  • Luxury commands loyalty. Customers trust in a luxury brand’s quality and value, and see their loyalty as a personal characteristic.

What do these look like for Gen Z?

Experiences chime well with luxury brands who market themselves as a lifestyle. Consider the ways Gen Z access and experience your brand. How can you ensure that every touchpoint channels luxury?

A Gen Z-orientated focus on luxury experience could look like a luxury car brand asking their followers to vote on which luxury car they’d like a social media influencer to talk through – showing up-close details, interiors and the engine. Gen Z values interactivity, so this shows you are listening to them. 

2. Gen Z wants privileged access.

All luxury consumers value the exclusivity of their purchase. But Gen Z not only wants to consume high-quality products – they want to see high-quality content before their peers. Luxury fashion brands are already experimenting with ephemeral marketing with notable success.

A Gen Z-orientated focus on privileged access could look like taking your content live. Livestream is the ultimate in exclusive, ephemeral content, as even if the session is recorded, only the live viewers can interact in real time to affect the content.

3. Gen Z wants brands to represent their values.

Luxury brands can make the purchasing of their products feel like a personal characteristic for their customers. This inspires loyalty. They see themselves as a Chanel or Louis Vuitton customer, or a Mercedes or Porsche driver. But Gen Z’s relationship to brand values is deeper: they want brands to embody their values, too.

A Gen Z-orientated focus on values could look like making radical steps towards sustainability. Gen Z care deeply about this cause. 73% of the generation were willing to pay more for sustainable products. Share the steps you are taking and make it part of your brand story. You can use this opportunity to talk about your craftsmanship too.

Luxury marketing for Gen Z: tips to stand out

To reach Gen Z, your marketing efforts need to be digital – but also have real-world impact. Nearly 80% of luxury sales today are “digitally influenced”. But for this digital native generation, it’s the human touch that brings the luxury industry to life.

Here are 3 ways your luxury brand can do exactly that.

1. Command the digital space

You’re a luxury brand: you don’t just enter a sphere – you command it. You’re a trendsetter. As well as mastering existing digital trends, create your own. 

On social media, that can mean using tools in new ways – or being the first to use new tools or marketing methods. On your website, make sure you are optimized for search engines (SEO) – and create a user experience (UX) that surprises and delights your visitors. 

Gen Z are digital natives – and they’re also content creators. The more your brand demonstrates your mastery of the digital sphere, the more they’ll see you as an authority on the trends they’re acting on and using digitally, as well as the products they aspire to.

2. Be video-first

Gen Z loves video. It’s part of the reason they love video-first app TikTok so much. And luxury brands should love video too. Why? Because it’s authentic.

In a world where every 13-year-old has access to photo-editing apps to airbrush their selfies, you need your audience to know that it’s not just airbrushing: your products really are as luxurious as they appear.

Video is how you do that. Show how fabric moves, what an engine sounds like, or how one room flows into another. Video is how you can create experiences, tell stories and communicate authenticity. Brands should consider livestream: it’s unrehearsed, so it demands authenticity. It’s new, and it’s exclusive, as discussed above.

3. Disrupt

Global luxury brands may face challenges on TikTok when trying to be ‘down to earth’ – but they are at a great advantage when it comes to clout. Your audience already knows who you are. Use your power to make a statement.

Consider Gaming and VR experiences – Gen Z will be the first group to use these. Or get ahead of the competition on the Metaverse. Use your luxury marketing campaign to promote something other than your products: mental health, diversity and inclusion, gender equality, sustainability or social responsibility.

72% of Gen Z said they’re more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes. You don’t need to use all your content to illustrate your luxury products: Gen Z already knows how to discover richer information about brands online. A luxury campaign that sheds a light on important topics will resonate far deeper.

Gen Z Luxury marketing examples

Want to see what effective Gen Z luxury marketing examples can look like? We’ve popped down some useful examples of luxury marketing and listed how they’ve used our tips.

Fanbytes - Clarins Livestream - Gen Z Luxury Example

1. Clarins’ livestream shopping

French prestige beauty company Clarins partnered with video streaming company Bambuser to bring Live Video Shopping to its customers worldwide. In its first foray into live stream shopping, Clarins saw conversion rates of 30% and engaged viewers for nearly 17 minutes.

When you consider that Gen Z has an attention span of 8 seconds, that’s a huge achievement. Clarins used video content – livestream specifically – to give their customers privileged access and deliver a disruptive, innovative experience.

In Bambuser’s words, Live Video Shopping is “rapidly growing in popularity among luxury and beauty retailers who recognise the format’s power as a strategic differentiator in today’s competitive environment.”

Fanbytes - Burberry Are You Happy - Gen Z Luxury Example

2. Burberry’s introspective campaigns

British luxury fashion house Burberry collaborated with TikTok account and documentary, @AreYouHappy to ask strangers to reflect on their lives and share their perception of what it means to be happy. The resulting series of TikTok videos were an exploration of mental health.

Naturally, each person featured in the videos was wearing Burberry clothing and accessories. Viewers would easily recognise its pieces. But this was not the focus: Burberry used its platform to draw attention to a subject its audience finds meaningful.

Like Burberry’s earlier “At A Distance” campaign and Prada’s spring/summer 2021 “Dialogues” campaign, Burberry’s #AreYouHappy is indicative of a trend towards introspective campaigns in luxury fashion. Luxury brands can use their clout to create a conversation and encourage deeper engagement.

Fanbytes - Gucci NFT - Gen Z Luxury Example

3. Gucci’s NFTs

Italian luxury fashion house Gucci took a significant step into the digital realm in 2021 through offering the brand’s first Non-fungible tokens (NFTs). In May, Gucci created a film inspired by its recent Aria collection, and offered the NFT for it as part of an auction at Christie’s.

The four-minute-long video clip had a $20,000 starting bid payable only in Ethereum cryptocurrency – making it the most expensive single item that Gucci has ever produced. Gucci used video and disruptive digital advancements to command a new form of luxury space.

The best bit? The profits garnered by the winning bid for the NFT went to UNICEF to support the COVAX program, an initiative that makes COVID-19 vaccines available globally.

While it’s safe to say that few Gen Z will be buying NFTs like this, Gucci are demonstrating a clear correlation with this age group’s values – winning their esteem.

Fanbytes - De Beers Reflections of Nature - Gen Z Luxury Example

4. De Beers’ ‘Reflections of Nature’

Gen Z and Millennials now drive two-thirds of leading diamond company De Beers’ consumer demand. This is no accident: the iconic jeweller has centred this market’s mindset throughout its operations. Nowhere is this more obvious than in its recent high jewellery collection, Reflections of Nature.

Reflections of Nature draws attention to where the diamonds were mined. It focuses on transparency. Each jewellery set is named after the country where its diamonds were sourced. It’s a marketing move that illustrates why customers are paying a premium: because they’re representing their values.

Celine Assimon, CEO of De Beers, said: “for Gen Z, choosing a brand that is acting responsibly is very important. When the clients know they are buying a natural diamond, [they are concerned with] traceability – knowing that your diamond is contributing positively to communities.”

Fanbytes - Zalando Luxury on Your Own Terms - Gen Z Luxury Example

5. Zalando’s “Luxury on Your Own Terms” campaign

Zalando tapped into the video-first nature of Gen Z with their “Luxury on Your Own Terms” campaign, which included a shoppable film series, ‘The Life of Liberty’, featuring characters wearing products from Zalando’s luxury collections.

Naturally, Zalando promoted the campaign on TikTok. A diverse group of young creatives, including LGBTQ+ activist William Ernult (@william_.e), acted as brand ambassadors while creating original content as a series.

Anaheta Metghalchi von Berenberg, buying director at Zalando, noted that “by 2025, Gen Z and Millennials will conduct the majority of luxury purchases”. Zalando’s campaign paves the way for a future in which the luxury brands of tomorrow are built by young, social-first consumers.

Fanbytes - Stella McCartney Sustainability - Gen Z Luxury Example

6. Stella McCartney’s sustainable influencers

This example shows how strategically gifting TikTok influencers can have far more impact on Gen Z. Luxury fashion brand Stella McCartney gifted influencers including Rose Langtry (@rosebrownlangtry) some stock to repurpose. This is a sustainable fashion practice of up-cycling products to reduce waste.

Rose is a micro-influencer, meaning the number of her followers is smaller, but engagement is higher. By showcasing how she’s repurposing her Stella McCartney trainers, she uses TikTok’s video-first nature to her advantage. She’s created a series of videos demonstrating her process. Her followers tune in to multiple videos, meaning she holds their attention for longer.

At the end of each fashion season, outdated stock goes to waste. However, Gen Z are passionate about sustainability. By engaging with sustainable fashion niches on TikTok (such as #thrifttok), Stella McCartney can drive views and brand awareness, while boosting brand sentiment through embodying Gen Z’s values.

Fanbytes - Selfridges Cinema - Gen Z Luxury Example

7. Selfridges’s cinema experience

Luxury department store Selfridges’ London flagship space is more than a retail experience. In the basement, the retailer has a cinema – the first permanent department store cinema in the world.

This striking approach to placemaking is a perfect play for Gen Z’s attention. Through its luxurious design and unique entrance, the cinema lends itself to being captured on social media platforms. Gen Z aren’t just here to watch the movie: they go to be together, and do something that’s a little different.

This example is a manifestation of privileged access. As friendship groups return to physical meet-ups, disruptive luxury spaces like this have an extra allure for Gen Z, who’ve spent the past year(s) immersed in the virtual realm. Luxury brands can take inspiration from social media behaviours of Gen Z to inform how they create physical experiences customers won’t want to miss.

Taking luxury into the future

Established luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Hermes have adapted through decades of change, and the current climate is another period of huge upheaval. This presents a huge opportunity for both storied luxury brands and new luxury players ready to make their mark in exciting new ways. 

The power of marketing that resonates with Gen Z is transformative for any luxury brand. It brings the brand right into the present, and wins over an enthusiastic new group of customers who are forming loyalties now.

If you’re interested in marketing your luxury brand to Gen Z, you’ve come to the right place: Fanbytes are leaders in capturing younger audiences’ attention, with campaigns that have skyrocketed brands and transformed Gen Z perceptions. Get in touch to find out how we can help you today.

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