The rich may be dif­fer­ent, but not as much as you might think. As wealth con­tin­ues to con­cen­trate at the afflu­ent end of the spec­trum and pre­dic­tions trend toward slower growth, lux­ury mar­ket behav­ior may hold impor­tant lessons for mar­keters at all points along the scale. In a recent white paper by The Lux­ury Insti­tute, sev­eral trends tread­ing into 2014 caught my attention.

The report men­tions that top lux­ury brands are dump­ing CRM firms fail­ing to deliver on promises. And, I might add, why shouldn’t they? No one, no mat­ter the mar­ket, should be send­ing bud­gets toward firms that are not accu­rate, timely, nor supportive.

Lux­ury brands, it seems, are also drop­ping bud­gets for ana­lysts unable to pro­vide highly accu­rate attri­bu­tion to sales chan­nels. Just like every­one else, lux­ury brands want to know where their mar­ket­ing invest­ments have the biggest bang for the buck in the cus­tomer sales jour­ney. Holy grail. It’s what every brand wants to know. It should also be what every mar­ket­ing ana­lyst strives to provide.

Most of it is exhaust,” claimed the report of on Big Data. True. How­ever, one man’s exhaust is another man’s fuel, so it is impor­tant, no mat­ter the mar­ket seg­ment or level, to look at the big pic­ture and choose wisely. Inter­est­ingly enough, the report hints that lux­ury brands may be cross­ing this off their lists as well, pre­fer­ring direct, per­sonal inter­ac­tion with cus­tomers on a daily basis.

The report dis­cusses a new lux­ury mar­ket profit model embrac­ing cus­tomer cul­ture, under­scored by a 2013 Deloitte study on cul­ture and val­ues. The study affirms that com­pa­nies that do good while doing busi­ness are far more prof­itable than those that sim­ply sell them­selves. The Lux­ury Insti­tute stud­ies indi­cate that data col­lec­tion increases three-fold, and reten­tion two-fold, in the top tier of cus­tomers respon­si­ble for 70 per­cent of sales. Taxes may have some­thing to do with the pop­u­lar­ity of char­i­ta­ble causes, but when it comes right down to it, who can argue with a firm that donates to the Humane Soci­ety or local schools?

I have to send out a big Cher­tudi “hur­rah” to the lux­ury mar­ket. I know why those CRM ven­dors were dumped. It’s com­pli­cated. I’ve seen lots of mod­els and sys­tems take their shot at get­ting attri­bu­tion right for sig­nif­i­cantly improved CRM. For the first time since I’ve been in this indus­try, we finally have a highly reli­able attri­bu­tion sys­tem that tells us where our mar­ket­ing is really working.

It is fas­ci­nat­ing to peer inside the attri­bu­tion data and see the impor­tance of con­nect­ing CRM to behav­ioral data. I’ve always known that email mar­ket­ing was impor­tant. I was shocked to see in a recent study that email is a key dri­ver in mul­ti­chan­nel sequences, with sce­nar­ios going some­thing like email-email-email-purchase or email-search-email-purchase, with emails car­ry­ing sig­nif­i­cant weight in the process.

Adobe truly is a highly con­sid­ered lux­ury brand of soft­ware, espe­cially the Cre­ative Suite divi­sion. We also have noted the impor­tance of mov­ing from an online “vend­ing machine” to a per­son­al­ized cul­ture that shifts the trans­ac­tion in a customer-centric direc­tion. Con­ver­sion comes from earn­ing our trust online as cus­tomers vote with their dol­lars, appre­ci­at­ing the oppor­tu­nity to tai­lor their sub­scrip­tions to their needs and try­ing before they buy.

The bot­tom line is that lux­ury brands will be tight­en­ing their 2014 mar­ket­ing belts while focus­ing on engag­ing cus­tomers with the human touch of cus­tomer cul­ture. If you haven’t already felt these trends, take a page from The Lux­ury Insti­tute. Focus on customer-centric strate­gies, giv­ing cus­tomers accu­rate, per­ti­nent infor­ma­tion to help them make quick, solid deci­sions. They will reward you for it with prod­uct loyalty.

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