‘Premiumisation’ of brands has bridged a gap between the desirability of the luxury world and the operation and necessity of the mass market. However as a lot of brands look to ‘premiumise’ their offers, the way to express this new focus on distinctiveness has to be more than simply skin deep – it’s not just a case of style over content.
From the breakthrough introduction of premium brands during the 90’s, to the present, premiumisation is currently more prolific than ever and no less sought after. And finding the convergence between these unique markets demands the correct kind of magic from brand owners and marketers. As more brands enter the fray we have a tendency to see a continuing shift in the premiumisation stakes - and therefore the question of what it means for brands is becoming progressively reliant on drawing out the distinctiveness inherent in a brand’s equity.
We tend to see that premiumisation is known and appreciated in increasingly alternative ways. It is often class specific with, for instance, rapid wealth creation in emerging markets bringing about new sources of demand for high-end products. However, this is often subject to context, placement and how developed the territory might already be – or not. It’s about understanding competitors, and particularly culture, to decipher the semantics and mood of what premium actually conveys to a specific audience and mindset.
Ask anyone to identify favoured examples of premiumisation, notably when it involves brand and product-designer collaborations, and they should be able to name dozens. The list is seemingly endless, and this has become a drag for the exclusivity they seek to obtain. Historically, a route to creating desirability, excitement and uniqueness - the collaboration-between-brands route - has now conversely started to become overused. Borrowing or sharing approval implies that only the absolute best and/or original brands are able to partner their traits with success or differentiate themselves through this approach.
Where the luxury/premiumisation landscape offers the chance of radical evolution is via a new, marked - and following the example set by the luxury sector - continual disruption of class. We begin to witness the emergence of revolutionary brand languages that are unique to a brand’s core and come from intrinsic beliefs. They bring new energy, excitement and impact – breaking established norms – to set radically new and different standards.
5 tips for addressing premiumisation today:
1) Build needfulness – exploiting powerful creativeness to identify and drive real distinction, making a brand new future definition, language and identity that does more than aspire materially with the Joneses and actually builds new expressions of desirability.
2) Create new ‘moments’ – It’s about adding new meaning, substance and experiences in an authentic approach that connects back to the core of the brand – without pricing the brand out of its own market.
3) Reach completely different audiences – Luxury is now no longer understood by typical expressions and instead leans on imagination and originality to establish its standing in new ways, permitting brands to open themselves up to new audiences.
4) Build lasting approval – Premiumisation must originate from the essence of the brand. It’s about staying faithful to that and finding ways in which to build on and heighten that distinctiveness.
5) Delight! – Those wanting to master premiumisation ultimately need to be influenced by the high-end approach – returning to its representative beliefs to form happiness and pleasure through ever more distinctive and individual future expressions.
We will continually look to an improved quality of life. Luxury makes us feel special because it too is special. Products that previously just answered a ‘need’ now fulfil us in new ways, offering an ‘experience’. Premiumness, like luxury, establishes distinction – our ‘distinctiveness’ – at a price which we may able to afford and in ways that we may able to incorporate into our daily lives. If businesses develop a resonant understanding of what premiumisation can be for them they will use it masterfully to develop their brand to a new level, conveying desire through unique and notable new expressions.