I love it when I meet with a potential client for the first time and I get to ask all the seemingly simple yet creatively complex questions such as, “What exactly is it that you are trying to give to your audience?” for starters. I’ve seen quite the array of answers but one that is frequently tallied up on the list of responses has to be my favorite, “We’re trying to sell a lifestyle!”. My initial instinct is to chuckle, because of course every start up normally has the ultimate dream goal of filling the shoes of many major lifestyle brand predecessors. Of course you want to sell a “lifestyle”, that is the only way to guarantee long-lasting success in today’s consumer culture. Speaking of..
Let’s break down this “consumer culture” phenomenon and how it impacts the development of said “Lifestyle Brands”.
Study.com has a great definition on Consumer Culture: “Consumer culture can broadly be defined as a culture where social status, values, and activities are centered on the consumption of goods and services. In other words, in consumer culture, a large part of what you do, what you value and how you are defined revolves around your consumption of stuff.”
Our society has a really tough time escaping this! Radio advertisements play more frequently than the music, commercials take up at least 1/3 of the viewing time of a 30 minute television segment, and don’t even get me started on the fact that it is almost impossible to stream any type of video on the internet without watching at least one advertisement. These things are constantly shoved in our faces; things we “need”, things we shouldn’t live without, things that will make us better than we already are.
The key to creating a successful lifestyle brand is to truly take the time to identify with your customer. Survey your target customers and find out what it is they want versus what it is they need, and how can you deliver it to them in a manner that makes them feel unique and special on a consistent basis. Let’s take a look at two different successful lifestyle brands and their unique approaches.
APPLE: What started out as a couple of tech geeks in a Silicon Valley garage eventually unfolded to the supreme candidate for revolutionizing consumer culture. Using advertisements and story lines that pull from a customer prospective and combining it with the sense of cutting edge technology that sets you apart from the norm, Apple found a way to provide products that people need while making it feel like it is something that they want. You may not need that iOS update, but you know that if you get it you are brought right up to the same tier as the elite in today’s consumer culture, making even the average person feel a part of an upper echelon.
Ralph Lauren: A brand that most certainly embodies what it is to sell a lifestyle. The classic pieces and consistency in delivery are what keep customers coming back to rock that Polo. Retail stores in major cities usually elude a sense of elegance and luxury down to the furnishing and detailed décor that makes the customer feel like they have stepped off a private jet and into the private Polo club that is Ralph Lauren. Even if they don’t live the RL lifestyle, customers still feel like they can when purchasing items from the collections, and feel secure that they are investing in timeless pieces.
The important thing to remember is to stay true to yourself and to your brand. Connect with your customers on a deeper level and give them something to remember! That is how you sell a lifestyle.
Jessica Rafaeil is a P.R. and Branding Specialist that loves working with young artists, entertainers and entrepreneurs.