The marketing funnel has been around since 1898 and continues to be applied across different business sectors. The different stages of being aware of a brand, considering it as an alternative, deciding on buying from its range and finally purchasing have also applied to luxury retail in India such as jewellery or garments.
Traditionally, in India, luxury retail marketers have relied almost entirely on mass media and event sponsorship to create awareness and encourage purchase. And that has worked for them for many years. Customers saw their TV commercials, press ads or billboards, became aware of the brand, considered it as one of the alternative and visited showrooms of different brands. There the sales team took them through the other steps of the funnel to close the sale. Of course, this was supported by the recommendations they got from others who bought the product or from what they read in the newspapers and magazines.
But today customer behavior has changed. Digital and social media have become predominant. Customers base their decisions on reviews they see on different sites or social media before they visit the showroom. Many will even complete the purchase online. With customer behavior changing it is time for luxury retail marketers to relook at their marketing strategies and cater to this new marketing funnel journey for the customer.
Getting to know of the brand:
At the awareness stage a luxury retailer is making customers aware of his brand, its products and the unique characteristics, such as design or workmanship, of his products. This can be achieved through media such as print ads, outdoor and TV ads as has been done for many years. Additionally, luxury retailers should also invest in Google ads, social media ads and mobile advertising.
Luxury products are high-involvement purchases and customers will carefully consider a brand and its products before spending their money on it. At this stage reviews on Google and social media, influencer marketing, content on the brand’s history and its design or manufacturing process as help in getting the customer to consider our brand over other. Additionally, exhibitions and shop-in-shop displays should also be used..
Evaluating the alternatives:
Just because our brand stands out more than its competitors does not mean that the customer will surely decide in its favour. At this stage the customer is probably visiting different showrooms and trying out or checking products. Online the brand needs to be supported by reviews or videos on social media by customers who have used the products. For online shopping, guarantees and buy-back policies can help make the decision quicker. Alternatively, brands may also choose to start Try at Home or BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up In Store) strategies.
This stage is when the customer buys the product. This is straight forward when the transaction is at the showroom. However, when shopping online the customer still needs a final bit of encouragement to buy the product, especially if he hasn’t seen it up close. In order to achieve this, brands offer special limited period offers such as discounts or freebies to entice the customer to finish the purchase. Other strategies include showing just a limited number of pieces available for sale.
The buying process doesn’t end with the purchase. After all, not only do we want a customer to keep coming back to us, we also want the customer to refer and recommend our brand to their friends and relatives. This is where CRM and customer loyalty come in. Brands, especially luxury retail brands, need to get the customer’s feedback on the purchase process and on the product. Only then can they address any issues that should arise. A customer loyalty programme will help brands communicate more often with the customer, keep them informed and offer them what they may be interested in.
Luxury retail brands should understand the purchase process and customer preferences have changed. The traditional marketing funnel that most luxury brands in India have employed will not be as effective as before. A well-designed strategy that keep these facts in mind will result in better sales conversions as well as a more loyal customer base.