Publicis on growth plans for its luxury arm

In an email interview with Marketing, Jae Soh, general manager, Publicis 133 LUX Singapore, talks about the agency’s plans to reach the luxury consumers in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

“Publicis 133 LUX Singapore plans to tap an increasing number of luxury consumers. We are driven by the positive numbers, evidenced by research dedicated to this market: the ultra high net worth (UHNW) who are looking for experiences that are unprecedented in so many ways. Ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWI) are defined as those with a net worth of US$30 million and above,” said Soh.

Calling Singapore a luxury gateway, Soh said that the agency would be bringing luxury brand marketing expertise and offerings to the region from Paris, where it is headquartered.

The agency currently works with global clients such as Cartier, Montblanc, Lancome and Yves Saint Laurent. In June 2014, it launched La Maison - an exclusive collaboration between Google, Condé Nast and Publicis Groupe digital networks as well.

Wealth centres are shifting from the West to the East. Asia is where the largest number of newly minted billionaires are based.

Asia saw strong growth in the size of its billionaire population and total billionaire wealth in 2013 - 30% of the net increase in global billionaire wealth came from thisregion.

Billionaires – defined as those individuals with a net worth of US$1 billion or above – control nearly 4% of the world’s wealth. These ultra wealthy individuals form one of the most exclusive clubs in the world: there is only one billionaire for every three million people on the planet.

Soh said that there were three major changes taking place in marketing luxury brands:

1. The constant shift in demographics and buying behaviors

“One size fits all” marketing strategy for luxury is no longer enough to reflect the changing faces of the luxury consumers. Tailored and localised marketing strategies are essential as the luxury sector is experiencing a surge in diverse range of consumers like never before. Each expects individual brand experiences, regardless of age, culture and level of affluence.

Striking a balance between global consistency and localised individuality when marketing these brands in local context is key. Many luxury brands are still navigating their way to optimize the use social media as a valuable means to develop new markets, increase consumer engagement and enable constant brand advocacy.

2. The shift from “Owning luxury” to “Experiencing luxury”

“Democratization” of luxury has caused shifts of behaviors for brands and consumers. Seasoned luxury consumers are now looking for exceptional ways to differentiate themselves from the rest. The levels of personalisation and customisation of products and services may vary from brand to brand but these two are becoming a norm.

It is no longer enough as luxury products move towards the exceptional, brick and click retail will move even closer towards the experience. Individual and local-focused experiential* luxury holds a longer-term promise and sustainability with its distinction and uniqueness.

*Experiential luxury (e.g. hiring a personal trainer, learning how to cook with Michelin-rated chefs or going on a life-changing adventure trip, spas, massage/beauty salon services, customized-itinerary travel, ultra private luxury boutique lodges, dining), the concept of spending on self-enrichment has become a widely accepted lifestyle feature.

3. Disruption by new digital technologies is affecting marketing and selling rituals – making it a means for luxury brands to ride the digital revolution.

Today’s luxury consumer is highly mobile. Each is a moving target, thus, it is imperative to reach them while they are on the move, wherever they are in the world. What seems to be a constant among this target is their use of digital devices as a means to reach the outside world and vice versa.

It’s a wired world. Luxury brands need to harness and make the digital world work for them. They need to connect and engage luxury consumers emotionally, intellectually and spirituality.