Luxury Beauty Brands and Value: A Matter of the Heart

Davide Nicosia says, when it comes to value, emotion can rule over logic.

By Davide Nicosia

Value is a huge part of any beauty brand, but achieving it looks very different depending on whether you are catering to a mass market or luxury consumer. Consumers tend to speak of mass brands as a “good value,” while luxury brands are “valuable.” Layers of nuance separate the two ideas, yet at their core, they are based on the acknowledgement of competition. Consumers always have choices, and brands that continually work to stay relevant and ahead - the innovators - are more likely to have a high value perception. But - Is It Worth It?

Another fundamental similarity can be seen in the universal question, Is it worth it? The answer to which can make or break a brand. While the mass consumer answers this question with logic, making his or her decision based on simple economics and a mixture of outside messages and internal beliefs, luxury consumers arrive at their decisions via a different psychographic process, where emotion rules over logic. Since reaching the luxury consumer is often a more nuanced mission, here are a few of my favorite tactics for emotionally connecting brand and consumer in the name of value.

The Power of Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful emotional strategy. Dunhill’s Custom Fragrance(designed by NiCE), tells its story through its bottle and package, both crafted to evoke the brand’s heritage of bespoke tailoring and craftsmanship: a stitching detail on the box for instance reminds consumers what makes a Dunhill item so valuable.

To further assure a resounding yes to the worth-it question, we added a customizable cap: Consumers can slide out the metal tag on the bottle’s top and replace it with a personally engraved (also metal) version, making the fragrance their own and deepening their emotional commitment to the brand. A special edition, designed to elicit a deep desire to own that particular variation on a favorite brand, is another opportunity for emotion and innovation. These must-have items are great fun to work on from a design standpoint, as it’s often when a brand shows its wild side, say in a summer themed fragrance or a line of beauty products geared to a younger market segment.

Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue fragrance recently introduced two editions (designed by NiCE) inspired by fantastic Mediterranean locations. To stir emotions associated with these evocative locales, packaging, advertising and marketing worked together, and the fragrances became coveted among brand devotees. In the same vein, artist collaborations – an illustration on a bottle, for instance – or celebrity endorsements can achieve a similar result. Of course, these tactics can backfire dramatically and expensively, but one brand getting it right is Chanel No. 5. Both with its posthumous Marilyn Monroe tie-in and its unexpected Brad Pitt endorsement, the fragrance cemented a three-way emotional connection between itself, its consumers and these iconic and on-brand celebrities.

Final Words of Advice

Whether the route one takes is through the head or the heart, arriving at value requires a commitment to innovation and an understanding of how a consumer will answer the eternal worth-it question. Knowing how to implement logic- or emotion-based strategiesis where we as brand and packaging experts can deliver real value.