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By Jenni Baker | Senior Editor

December 13, 2022 | 5 min read

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For luxury brand marketers to connect with the modern-day luxury consumer, they must experiment with channels, be able to reflect their values and be agile in their approach.

The ‘New Guard’ will be an essential audience to the luxury industry’s future

The ‘New Guard’ will be an essential audience to the luxury industry’s future

Spend on luxury goods is forecast to rise dramatically from €283bn in 2021 to up to €380bn by 2025 (Bain & Co). The attitudes and behaviors of luxury consumers have shifted over the last two years, bringing an evolution from the more traditional face of luxury (the ‘Luxury Loyalist’) to the rise of the modern ‘New Guard’ – an audience that will be essential to the industry’s future.

But who are they and what impact are they having on the communication approaches and marketing strategies for luxury brand marketers to engage them? The Drum sat down with Pip Usher, global luxury content director at Financial Times to learn more. Watch the interview above.

Beliefs and values

The New Shape of Luxury report, from Financial Times and the IPA, identified seven key audience segments – each of which bring their own sets of behaviors and beliefs to the table.

“When you look at the ‘New Guard’, many of their differing attitudes are generational,” explains Usher. “As a typically younger set of luxury consumers, the ‘New Guard’ is open to new ways of purchasing luxury goods, including second hand. They’ve also grown up with climate change as a central issue in their lives and we can see that reflected in the way they are valuing sustainability.”

But despite the differences between audience segments, there’s one thing that remains constant: the status that comes with owning luxury goods remains as strong as ever – they are using luxury goods to externally signal to others and themselves how they want to be perceived.

Emotional connections

To engage with this new segment, Usher advises that brands must look beyond a focus on the products themselves or the heritage of the brand and build a bigger narrative. The in-person experience is still valued in a digitalized world. Emotional connection is vital for luxury.

“With the ‘New Guard’ in particular, we can see the importance of content with the under 35s,” says Usher. “They favour a broad range of channels because they expect brands to engage in all parts of their lives. That could be anything from an exclusive video series, a podcast or mobile game.

“They’re really open to engaging with brands in all sorts of ways – and because content is driven by storytelling, it gives brands the opportunity to align with broader trends or topics that reflect their values.”

Cultural credibility

Only when a brand understands the wider interests and behaviors of the ‘New Guard’ are they much better positioned to create content that meets their needs. Usher cites Gucci as a forward-thinking brand who isn’t afraid of taking risks: “This really reflects the need for brands to have cultural credibility – that comes with an expectation that luxury brands feel relevant to the moment.”

Usher offers three top tips for luxury brands to engage and connect with the ‘New Guard’:

  1. Experiment: seize the opportunity to connect with them across multiple touchpoints

  2. Reflect: mirror their sustainability values – adjust to reflect their expectations

  3. Evolve: stay agile – keep your core DNA but adapt to changing attitudes and behaviors.

Watch the full video interview above and for a deeper dive on how brands can navigate the changing luxury market, download ‘The New Shape of Luxury’ report here.

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The Financial Times is one of the world’s leading news organisations, recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy.

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