10 Tips for Creating a Luxury Brand in a New Market

Luxury Branding Tips for New Markets

Finding a place for a product or service in an already established marketplace can be hard enough. If you add the extra elements of trying to blaze a trail for a luxury brand in a new market that’s just opening up, you need to take extra care each arrow in your business quiver is sharp.

That’s certainly the case for the emerging luxury marijuana space. It’s being spurred on  by the fact more and more states are legalizing medical and in some cases recreational marijuana.

David Moritz is the Chief Marketing Officer for Toast, a luxury cannabis brand that’s trying to stake a claim in that fledgling high end niche. He offered ten tips for small businesses looking to take the entrepreneurial road less traveled: luxury branding.

Luxury Branding Tips for New Markets

What’s in a Name? Everything.

When you’re trying to establish your product in a new arena that’s not been tested it’s important to grab what Moritz calls the high ground first. Choosing a name is one of the first ways to do that. When you’re entering a market where there’s little or no history, there’s a lot more flexibility in the name you choose. Names should be both representative of what you’re selling and resonate with the experience you want your clients to have. In other words, get creative because you won’t have a lot of competition at first so you can take a little extra time to get this right.

For example, Toast speaks to the pillars of style and luxury the company wants to portray.

Identity Is Essential

The name and identity go hand in hand. For a luxury item, the identity needs to be crafted carefully so that it appeals to the specific target market you’re after. The tone needs to be sophisticated and even the logo needs to support the refined name that you choose to start the process off with. Giving a sense of heritage is another essential ingredient for identity.

Cues are Critical

Luxury brands obviously deliver more to a higher customer standard whether they are entering a new market or not. Part of that client expectation is summed up in the cues they look for.

“For example, there are certain finishes inside a luxury car that alert people this is a high end brand,” Moritz says. While you need these cues in for a new luxury market, finding a way to set these benchmarks is different because there are no previous examples.

Find Similarities

Small business looking to build these markers in a new industry needs to take a page from the kinds of emotional cues that work for established industries and make them their own.  Toast™ looked at the way alcohol advertising implied drinking in moderation could enhance and elevate any social event and morphed it to include marijuana.

“The whole nature of any luxury business is in the ability to hit people in an emotional place,” Moritz says adding to make that work you need to incorporate elements from other places to start.

“Then you can invent your own innovations from there.”

Think About Positioning

Because you might not have competition in you own industry, you’ll need to position your new product in relation to other products in similar industries.  It’s the same kind of process used for emotional cues. For a high end product, you can advertise with personas similar to ones used with other luxury items. Refined and elegant people are the best bet.

Use Technology to its Fullest

Although you want to be sure to take your luxury brand and firmly place it on that shelf that sets it apart, you cant ignore how important social media is to getting the word out to your target market.

Moritz understands how this digital juggernaut is gaining in importance for luxury brands in new markets.

“As the algorithms improve and the advertising becomes more accurate and geared towards people’s interests, this is only going to increase,” he says.

Imagine the Competition

You likely won’t have any competition when you first position your luxury brand in a new market. Here you’ll need to play a little imaginary chess with a competing company to make your moves based on what you think a competitor might do.

“You can imagine those other brands but you need to take a specific approach,” Moritz says.

Get Perspective

Through all the other work you do to create a luxury brand in a new market you need to keep in mind you should be fostering a high end experience in all your communications. For example, with the high end cannabis industry, laboratory testing is a given that doesn’t need to be stressed in marketing materials.

Think About Regulators

Your new luxury market won’t be new forever. Just like imagined competitors you need to think about how government and other regulators will affect your business. How you market and to who might need to be adjusted.

Provide an Experience

More than just the product itself, a luxury brand in a new market needs to provide a complete experience.

“The more that you can bridge the gap between newness and innovation to expectation and familiarity, the easier time you’ll have launching your product,” Moritz says.

Image: We Toast/Instagram

This article, “10 Tips for Creating a Luxury Brand in a New Market” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The Role of CSR in Marketing and Branding

CSR Marketing: The Role of CSR in Branding

What do you think about when you hear the term corporate social responsibility (CSR)? There’s a lot of noise around this business opportunity, but a lot of business owners either view it as a passing fad or an unnecessary external pressure. However, the truth is that it’s very important to the overall health of your organization – especially from a marketing and branding perspective.

CSR Marketing

The Link Between CSR and Brand Equity

When you bring up the idea of CSR in a room full of business executives, you’re bound to get a variety of responses. Some will reveal that they actually know very little about it, while others will go on a spiel about all of the wonderful things their company is doing to better society. You’ll also have those who are skeptical about the return on investment in CSR.

By one definition, “Corporate Social Responsibility is an ethical management concept where companies aim to integrate social, economic and environmental concerns along with the consideration of human rights into their business operations.”

This definition is particularly relevant because it touches on just how far-reaching a CSR program can be. It’s not just about partnering with an NPO or sponsoring a local charity. It’s about creating tangible change – socially, economically, and environmentally.

While the underlying purpose of CSR is to advance a specific cause that benefits society, don’t be fooled into thinking that it can’t also have a positive impact on your own company. A strategically developed, properly implemented CSR program can directly enhance a brand’s ability to create and maintain a positive image in the consumer marketplace.

Don’t feel bad if you have profits on your mind whenever you approach the subject of CSR – you aren’t alone. “One of the main reasons companies engage in socially responsible behavior is the possible financial gain that can come from it,” management expert Timothy Creel explains. “Recent studies show that companies engaging in socially responsible behavior tend to show long-term financial gains and increases in value.”

CSR is very much a long-term play, however. Companies tend to show financial losses in the first three years. It isn’t until 36 or 48 months down the road that benefits begin to kick in. But when they do, the impact can be instrumental in terms of marketing and branding.

The reason why CSR builds brand equity is largely psychological. As Creel notes, “Positive feelings are related to social approval and self-respect. Brands that evoke positive feelings make customers feel better about themselves.” Remember that most purchases aren’t about satisfying a need. Sure, there are instances where customers need products to survive, but most purchases are rooted in wants. When a company is able to tie a purchase that is otherwise seen as non-essential to something larger than the product, customers have an easier time validating the purchase in their minds.

Another branding-related benefit of CSR is the sense of community it creates. Creel points to how Lowe’s donates materials and provides volunteer hours to Habitat for Humanity, which allows the company to form connections in local communities. These connections fuel the brand’s image and result in better connectivity.

Ultimately, a commitment to serving others has an impact on sales. According to a survey from Better Business Journey, 88 percent of customers say they’re more likely to buy from a company that supports and engages in activities that improve society.

Three Companies Getting CSR Right

Lowe’s was already mentioned, but what other companies are getting CSR right?

1. Kitchen Cabinet Kings

Environmental sustainability is a big focus right now and Kitchen Cabinet Kings is doing a phenomenal job of positioning its brand for the future by aligning the company’s sales with the Plant a Tree Campaign. For every full kitchen purchased, the company plants a tree in one of the 155 National Forests in the United States.

“We think a tree planting is a great way to thank you for your business while giving back to our planet,” the company explains. “Our hope is that as this tree grows, so does our relationship.”

It might seem like a small thing, but when it comes to choosing between Kitchen Cabinet Kings and a competitor, something as simple as supporting sustainability can make a big difference.

2. Kroger

The popular supermarket chain Kroger has long been involved with CSR programs. As the company explains, “We have built a strong foundation based upon the commitment of our associates to serve each and every customer every day, and our promise to be good stewards of our communities and our planet. We know that trust is earned and we never take for granted the trust and confidence of our associates, customers, suppliers, communities and other stakeholders.”

Specifically, Kroger partners with companies and groups that fight world hunger, support women’s health, and provide for military members and their families. They also have initiatives in place that relate to the environment, supply chain, and local economies.

3. Delta Airlines

In an industry where companies are often blasted by frustrated customers, Delta seems to be doing something right on the CSR front. The focus of Delta’s CSR programs, which center on reducing carbon emissions and encouraging environmental sustainability, is on improving transparency.

Delta also asks a lot of its employees, who are heavily involved in Delta Force for Global Good. The fact that Delta employees are also committed to the company’s CSR goals is something that appeals to many customers.

Give Your Brand a Boost With CSR

The benefits of CSR are plentiful. While a CSR program should have a positive influence on the people, groups, or communities that are directly affected by the actions, it’s also becoming abundantly clear that CSR is a strong marketing and branding play.

If your brand is looking for a boost, CSR may be the answer.

Business People Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “The Role of CSR in Marketing and Branding” was first published on Small Business Trends

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