Lifestyle brands have a unique marketing challenge. The nature of what they provide is deeply personal. Their brand must be aspirational, showing customers a reflection of what they want to become. At the same time, they must adhere to all the conventional rules of advertising to see results. A value proposition and strong call to action must be included, but this cannot be at the expense of the mood and feel of the overall messaging.
By KEVIN DEVOTO
This is obviously a difficult line to walk. The brands that have mastered it have endeared themselves to loyal customers and set themselves up for long-term success. While there’s no sure-fire recipe or road map to build a lifestyle brand, these five marketing tips should help you reflect on the most important areas you need to address as a marketer, in the hopes of bringing your brand recognition and increased profitability.
Messaging: Understand What Your Target Audience Wants
Let’s start with the message. Lifestyle brands appeal to people who either want to raise their status in the world or maintain a high status. Lifestyle brand categories center heavily on health, fitness, and style. From diet fads and tips to exercise programs to fashion trends utilizing an ambassador program, lifestyle brands sell success and well-being. On the one hand, everyone wants these things. On the other, almost every product, regardless of category or industry, trades on these emotions, putting you at a disadvantage in the marketing marketplace.
This is a rare situation where you may need to work against your instincts. Lifestyle brands are about selling prestige and confidence, right? No. They are about selling the means to achieve those goals. You need to be specific and personal in your messaging. You should never talk down to your target audience, rather, you should empathize with them. For example, if you are advertising an exercise program geared towards young new mothers who want to lose weight after giving birth, acknowledge the difficulty of their situation and pep them up. This will help build trust and credibility.
Design: What Will Stand Out (In the Right Way)
Laying out design rules in the marketing world is always tricky, as the pendulum swings so rapidly. One day, minimalist designs with thin, san serif fonts may be all the rage, and then a few weeks later, retro loud and bulky ad copy may have come back into vogue. Regardless, lifestyle brands trade on a few keywords: calm, simplicity, and peace. They are aimed at busy, high-powered people with money to spend. They are usually looking for escapes from their hectic lives. Give them sparse, clutter-free, soothing commercials, web pages, and vlogs, and they will pay attention. This is not a category where aggressively combatting competitors will pay off. Focus on unique services, benefits, and products you can offer. If you can’t differentiate between these aspects, try to market value and price.
Media: What Platforms Will Reach Your Customers
Buying media that your target customers are likely to see is a rudimentary marketing concept, to be clear. However, that water is muddied by the influx of digital and social media advertising channels that have emerged in the last decade. Social media and lifestyle brands go together so much that you may be tempted to build your strategy around buying ads and maintaining a strong presence on every established and emerging social platform. Don’t.
Unless you have a deep roster of marketing pros and even deeper pockets, it’s impossible to maintain an effective social presence on more than two or three social platforms, if that. Fresh posts and audience engagement multiple times a day are necessary to prevent being buried in social algorithms. You are far better served to focus your efforts. Lifestyle brands skew young, affluent, and female. A few internet searches will show you the top platforms to reach those demos in less than a minute.
Emerging Strategies: Influencers
Digital advertising has laid track for many outside-of-the-box marketing opportunities. The biggest is the use of influencers. Influencers are people with a significant number of social followers who are willing to promote your product and help sell it to their audience. Some of the biggest celebrities on the planet have hopped aboard the influencer train; it’s a logical extension of the decades-old “paid celebrity endorsement” model.
Of course, influencer marketing isn’t attainable, or even right, for every brand. If you feel it would be beneficial for yours and you have a budget for it, start simply. Seek out local or regional influencers. Appeal to them as personally as possible without bugging them. This may be in the form of a physical piece of mail, a phone call, or a straightforward email. Recognize that the more successful they are, the more sought-after they are. Offer generous samples of whatever you are asking them to promote. Be prepared to negotiate, but first, do your homework to vet them and make sure they are a good match for your brand.
Promotion: Retaining and Incentivizing Current Customers
Finally, recognize that while acquiring new customers is always critical, retaining loyal ones is crucial as well. It usually doesn’t take much to keep them coming back if they’re happy with you. A simple discount is almost always worth the money. Rewards programs can upsell. The bottom line is that you should never neglect your existing base in favor of new clientele.
Lifestyle brands live and die on trust and engagement. These strategies should help you build both while crafting a unique identity for your offerings.