The Psychographic Endeavor


What are psychographic studies and what role do they play for luxury marketing? Why is it better to conduct psychographic studies before designing the ideal luxury strategy? How different is it from other techniques applied in research and studies?

Psychographics is an interdisciplinary field which includes studies conducted before constructing market segments. This peculiar approach is qualitative and almost never quantitative. The methodology asks the why questions rather than the confusing questions that start with who and how. It is about the role of values and interests in the consumers’ mind. Psychographic studies focus on the attitudes, behavior and lifestyles. As a concept for luxury marketing it is more effective than basic studies on demographics. These days strategists usually fight for a creative idea however psychographic studies need more than one, two, or three big ideas during the process of branding a delicate luxury brand. It is about a way of thinking and a way of life therefore there are thousands of ideas in one strategy alone. One creative idea is not enough. In these studies the socio-cultural and socio-psychological perspectives matter more than just the socio-economic perspectives. Certain concepts as linguistics, symbolism and ancient history help the strategist find keys during the psychographic journey. The idea that asking the why question could add meta-physical value  to a luxury brand cannot be overstated.

The essential role of psychographics in the luxury marketing industry may be described as "the use of psychological, sociological, and anthropological factors to construct market segments" (Solomon). It is "dividing markets into segments on the basis of consumer lifestyles, attitudes and interests" (Peter and Olson). "In fact psychographics and lifestyle are frequently used interchangeably. Psychographic research attempts to place consumers on psychological - as opposed to purely demographic - dimensions" (Hawkins, Best & Coney,1995). In other words, demographics is what is written on the ID card or passport of the consumer whereas psychographics is what is written in the mind (both conscious and subconscious) therefore it is surely beyond demographic segmentation. In a way, this approach shows how we should focus on studying the psychology of nature as much as we focus on studying the nature of psychology. This concept is crucial for figuring out the consumer behavior in global luxury marketing industries. These studies are the key to open many doors within the industry, so I propose that mankind should open these doors and pursue the psychographic endeavor to shed light on this multidimensional phenomenon.


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Swiss Time in Istanbul Highlights


I had an invitation to the 2012 Swiss Time in Istanbul luxury watch exhibition and so I went there to check on the pulse of the luxury watch industry in Turkey. There were around thirty brands exhibiting watches that had a total value of 30 million USD. The head of the Swiss counsulate general Monika Schmutz Kirgöz was present as well as many CEOs, founders and insiders of the industry including journalists and Jean-François Meyer who is the head of promotional affairs of Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH. Some of the oldest brands that exhibited theirs pieces were Ellicott and Perrelet. There were very few co-branding strategies during the exhibition which was a chance missed by the non-watch luxury houses that are active in the Turkish luxury market. Unfortunately certain brands did not have ideal brand ambassadors. It is especially important for a luxury brand to educate its promoters, representatives, managers about such critical concepts as the brand's identity, character and personality. So it was another important branding oppourtunity missed by some of the brands during the exhibition. As a luxury brand strategist it was a pleasure to meet with the insiders of the Swiss watch industry and to discuss not the watches but the brands.  As it was said during the Marketing Summit Istanbul in 2012 by Michael Benson, the regional director of Interbrand, the brand identity plays a more important role in the luxury sector than in non-luxury sectors. So intead of the technical details I was more interested in the brands' stories. Selim Yoruten was, for example, very informative when he was eloquently describing the history and culture of Franck Muller. Overall it was an honor to see such a noble community of watch enthusiasts and connoisseurs and learn more about the way this field of luxury is growing progressively in Turkey.




31st International Istanbul Boatshow

As a luxury strategist I was invited to this great worldwide yachts exhibition few days ago. It started in Amsterdam this summer and then Cannes and after Monaco the 31st International Boatshow was held in Istanbul to which I attended to meet with the insiders and authorities of the industry. There were over 380 boats and more than 80.000 visitors during ten days of the exposition. The visitors had the oppourtunity to test drive, analyze the details and the experience in general. Some of the Turkish Yacht media were present, these were the niche magazines: Yacht Turkiye - the most popular; Naviga - the oldest; Powerboats and Yachts - to be shut down soon as I heard. The most expensive yacht was the Infinity by CobraYachts which was for 8.950.000 euros. However, being a luxury strategist I was not as interested in these products (yachts,boats etc.) as much as I was interested in the brands and their strategies during the exposition. So, in general in this kind of high lifestyle exposition not seeing alternative (non-yacht) brands applying a co-branding strategy was shocking to me - an oppurtunity missed by the luxury brands that are in Istanbul. There were many prestigious brands as Riva, Princess, Azimuth, Beneteau etc. The most memorable experience for me was with the Ferretti group and their Riva yacht which was rather informative and delicate at the same time. I observed that Riva with its high luxury brand strategies is beyond just a yacht brand for being historically significant by preserving the Italian touch and values and of course by passing the knowledge of the craftsman from generation to generation. So, the famous 4 Es of luxury marketing strategies mentioned in the global luxury summit 2012 emotion, engagement, experience and exclusivity were strongly present in Riva's section. The last but not least, happy 170th anniversary Riva! 





Why is Luxury Branding Radical?


Note:This business article of mine was published on the website of Campaign magazine in Turkish click the link to read the original article:


The French say it’s impossible to overdo luxury. In other words, if luxury is an exotic and radical idea, one cannot overdo it anyway. As we are the consumer generation during the age of globalization, we were introduced to this high concept of luxury even before we knew about brands and products. One way or another, most of us attempted to give answers to the question “what truly is luxury?”. Historically, socio-economic classes always questioned the idea of luxury, however not much light was shed on the topic of creating and selling luxury. After two years of my industrial research, I must say, being capable of talking about luxury branding, marketing and advertising is already luxury in and of itself.

According to research, the global luxury market’s size has reached around 260 billion (USD) in 2011. Even though the industry is this big, most of the great universities around the globe do not offer luxury marketing major. It could be a chapter in a book of regular marketing major, or if you are lucky a separate book on luxury marketing, however studying luxury marketing in a full four year program is a luxury that is offered in very few universities. Additionally, there are still very few experts like Clotaire Rapaille around the globe, who we could learn the nuances of luxury branding from. 

The luxury branding specialists French Michel Chevalier and Swiss Gerald Mazzalovo state in their book: "To say that a logo functions as a symbol for a brand is to describe this notion of consumers' belonging to and having membership in a special and prestigious club." The luxury brand management authority of Europe Jean-Nöel Kapferer and luxury marketing professor Vincent Bastien describe luxury from the perspective of the consumer: "To enjoy luxury you have to devote time to it, and conversely, luxury is an opportunity to enjoy some free time." These two masters explain the strong emotional attachment between the luxury consumer and the inanimate objects – even when the object gets old you would not replace it or when it stops functioning you would not get rid of it as it still is full of meaning.

The differences between regular and luxury marketing would not fit in one article but it must be mentioned that the more regular marketing is being standardized, the more luxury marketing is being radicalized. Today in luxury consumer research, usually, the archetype consumer, reptilian brain, motivation research and psychographic segmentation are discussed in depth. For instance, the luxury strategy hates mass marketing and almost always is closer to niche marketing, but of course not every niche marketing case can afford the luxury strategy.

For example, ten years of decrease in sales is a too radical type of planning for standard marketing and the CMO would probably be fired on his third or his fourth year. In the world of fashion the global luxury brands that have sales graphs with dramatic decrease still focus their planning and strategy on prestige and exclusivity rather than just profit.

When applying the niche marketing strategies mostly the niche circles of a society are being targeted. For instance, few months ago in Istanbul Johnnie Walker, Omega and Mont Blanc chose to sponsor the gatherings of a luxury lifestyle society of around thousand people called Encoreist. So, most of the time the corporate communication is with the high socio-economic classes. Even though the radical luxury branding applies advertising to these niche circles, the idea that “we actually don’t even need advertising” is being delivered to the consumer’s mind. Since, the luxury brands usually advertise to only certain circles rarely and never in a disturbing way, the consumer prefers to believe the mythology that “the luxury brands don’t advertise”. If you haven’t seen an ad of a luxury brand in the last month, it means that you are simply not in their target audience.

In the universe of luxury, whether for the consumer or the seller, all is for the sake of luxury; it is impossible to overdo luxury. Therefore there are many reasons why luxury branding is radical but shortly, we can put it this way: take all the rules of standardized marketing and turn all of them upside down.


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