Lessons from luxury brands

What can we learn from luxury brands about marketing and customer engagement and apply to our own small business or role?

That was what Toby Beckers sought to discover on a Nuffield Farming Scholarship. In his case it was to identify the lessons for small Australian wine producers in a way that could help them to apply the findings. Toby and his wife Emma own Bekkers Wine, a boutique winery in South Australia’s McLaren Vale region.

As he put it, “Australian agribusinesses, and many wine brands, are good at efficiently converting natural capital into quality products. Australian winemakers excel at wine production. However, what they are not as good at is inspiring customers to pay a premium.”

This was his starting point when he embarked on his Nuffield scholarship studies, meeting with many prestige brands both within and outside the wine industry. He travelled the world investigating strategies, communication and customer engagement in industries such as fashion, jewellery, fine art, whisky, luxury hotels and restaurants. This was with businesses that do not compete on price but rather by satisfying the emotional needs of their customers.

Click here to download his Luxury Brand Report Bekkers. It contains much food for thought and not just for businesses offering premium products or experiences.

Toby says, “It is not necessary to be a luxury brand in order to adopt some of the techniques and concepts that drive the success of those businesses… simple techniques applied with discipline appear to be the basis for much of the success enjoyed by luxury brands.”

As he puts it, “small winemakers should focus at least as much of their energy on marketing and communications as they do on production.”

In his report Toby Bekkers takes you on a jargon free, easy-to-read journey identifying four main themes common to all the businesses he visited:

  1. They understand their unique ‘Brand Identity’.
  2. They seek to understand their customers’ emotional desires.
  3. They are obsessed with presenting a consistent brand image.
  4. They are master storytellers.

For example, relating to point 3 above regarding consistency he says, “Landscape and architecture plays a leading role in setting the scene at most of the Napa Valley’s leading wineries (in California). The most memorable visits were where every element told a story of excellence and craftsmanship.”

As he puts it, the lesson from this is, “A careful audit of all customer-facing parts of the business to assess what message they are transmitting would be a useful exercise for most small winemakers… Are certain elements detracting from the overall image? These anomalies may be small, yet speak loudly about the brand.”

Toby Bekkers’ 42-page report is illustrated with real examples and commentary from the businesses he studied. It provides an invaluable insight from a switched on small business person who is rightly proud of his product but realises that this isn’t enough to set him apart from the crowd.

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Jurek Leon is a storyteller, speaker and trainer. Subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly 'Terrific Tips' e-newsletter at http://www.terrifictrading.com/terrific-newsletter/. Alternatively, email info@terrifictrading.com.