How do I get luxury brand partnerships? How do I present my followers to luxury brands?
I have 5 million followers, doesn’t that speak for itself?
(I know, 5 million is a lot of followers, most influences dream of getting 500k)
And who should I talk to, who are the decision-makers in luxury houses?
To get sponsorship or cash paid upfront from your target clients, it’s critical to understand them very well.
To win luxury house partnerships, social media influencers must position themselves differently than for mass market fashion and travel brands. Million-dollar jewels are a world away from road testing yoga pants brands.
This is exactly why we createdthe View inside The House Series. Here influencers like you will get an insider view from the perspective of a luxury house decision maker. You’ll better understand how they evaluate partners, allocate budgets, and measure results.
Understanding the Difference between Luxury and Fashion
The very first thing is to understand the difference between luxury and fashion.
I ran into this question three times when interviewing for luxury brands.
1. Why is it important?
It’s a deal breaker.
Luxury brands don’t care if you have 5M followers. What they do care above all is that you understand luxury. You understand how to appeal in a way that speaks to their customers.
In short, do you speak their language?
Mixing luxury and fashion up is like confusing an important client with another person at a very important meeting.
Whatever you do the rest of the meeting, you lost the deal.
Both luxury and fashion brands want to get this straight, before having further conversation with you
2. The key difference
I bet you may say price! Well, it is, but it’s not.
To give you an example:
Some luxury brands have accessories collections. A few pieces of logo engraved letters sell for $80. The actual price is not super expensive, but in the context of the paper, it’s absolutely a luxury item.
I will tell you the differences with my interview stories:
3. The Million Dollar Question
My first official interview with Harry Winston was at an Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan.
At that point, I already have experience in the luxury goods industry, with a resume studded with luxury brand names from Saks Fifth Avenue to Jaguar Cars.
Yet, still, I needed to prove I truly understand the difference between luxury and fashion. Harry is the king of ultimate luxury, there is no room for confusion.
The question came: what do you think is the difference between luxury and fashion? And what do you think of Harry Winston?
This is what I said, as far as I remember:
- Luxury and fashion are like an X-Y axis. If the X axis is Fashion then Y axis is Luxury.
- Fashion is more focused on trend, newness, it fuels excitements via launching new collections every season.
- On the other end, luxury is more classic. It has less frequent new launches and needs a sense of mystery.
- It is about craftsmanship, heritage, and scarcity.
At that moment I was doing an internship at Saks Fifth Avenue. So I gave my current example:
- If Saks Fifth Avenue is on the luxury Y -axis, then Bloomingdale’s is on the other side, the fashion X-axis.
- Luxury goods customers are also more mature and discreet than fashion customers. Bloomingdale’s attracts a younger generation, Saks Fifth Avenue is for mothers whose daughters shop at Bloomingdale’s, their average age 45+.
- As a result, luxury goods merchandise tense to be more conservative. It’s less about chasing the trend, it’s more about making themselves comfortable.
My boss was very happy. He said: “Great, you obviously know it very well. The reason why I ask this question is that many candidates couldn’t even tell the difference. They think these two are the same thing.”
The difference between luxury and fashion lies fundamentally in the target customers.
4. The difference in target customers:
- Luxury goods customers are more mature and wealthy, they prioritize privacy and security.
- Many luxury brands’ customers are aged 45+.
- Fashion customers are younger and hence less financially established. They prioritize getting attention and being noticed.
Fashion customers, led by women in their 20s, prefer more variety of color and styles in collections.
5. The difference in focus:
- In this axis, the fashion industry stands for the latest trend, the brightest colors. It likes attention and says “Hey, look at me!”
- On the luxury side, it’s classic and discrete. It shies away from overexposure and rather enjoy being mysterious.
Now you’d be ready for a more advanced example:
6. The Beauty Pageant Sponsorship Proposal
It’s a conversation about a beauty pageant sponsorship in a luxury brand’s marketing department.
I was approached by a global beauty pageant organizer. The campaign would like Harry Winston to become a title sponsor. A title sponsor is a lead sponsor, who can have the biggest logo on the wall where celebrities pose for pictures.
I hadn’t been with the company long enough, so I decided to seek advice from the Marketing VP.
On my way to her office, I thought to myself: gorgeous women, glamorous stage and lavish couture, in front of hundreds of millions of audience worldwide. Won’t that be a perfect partnership platform for Harry Winston diamonds?
I was wrong. Guess what the Marketing VP said?
7. No. This is not an ideal platform for us.
What’s more important is the reason she explained:
- Harry Winston clients, men or women will not relate to wearing Harry Winston diamonds in front of a public audience like a beauty contest. It doesn’t relate to them.
- The beauty pageant audiences are not potential Harry Winston clients.
- Yet a beauty pageant is great for diamonds brands, it’s just not for luxury brands like Harry Winston. It’s about attracting attention, the opposite of being discrete.
- Beautiful and sexy, millions of audiences are not the keywords one use to convince luxury brands. These are the words for fashion brands.
Million-dollar diamond does not go together with beach bikinis.
8. Pleasant and elegant > beautiful and sexy
For luxury brands the beautiful beach pictures are not a plus, but an extra layer of concern for discreet and brand image.
In many luxury boutiques, you can’t help notice that they’ve got some of the most gorgeous human beings on earth working in sales!
Yet they never come across to the clients with aggressive sexiness. They often wear black or navy colors and make clients feel pleasant and comfortable.
This is what luxury goods offer to their target customers that fashion brands don’t: privacy and discretion.
Now that you have clearly understood the difference between luxury and fashion. You are one significant step closer to your goal: to persuade luxury brands to give you a sponsorship, etc. You can start to present your followers and platform in a way that speaks to luxury brands.
- The difference between luxury and fashion lies fundamentally in their target customers.
- Fashion is more focused on trend, newness and frequent new launches.
- Luxury is more classic and discreet. It has a sense of mystery. It is about craftsmanship, heritage, and scarcity.
- Luxury brands shy away from overexposure.
Let’s try to think like a luxury industry professional.
- Map out the brands that you currently work with on an X-Y axis, either as an advertiser or via an affiliate program.
- Map out where your desired luxury brands would be on this axis.
- You should see that there is little overlap between luxury and fashion.
That means at some point, you need to make a decision to go for fashion or luxury brands, not both.
Because luxury and fashion do not appear together.
Feel invited to join the conversation on What’s the #1 biggest challenge you have partnering with luxury brands?
Hope to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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