Luxury: A State Of Mind In The Whisky Industry

Luxury: A State Of Mind In The Whisky Industry

In todays world, we all have a different perception of what is considered a luxury. As the definitions are increasingly personal, ranging from physical goods or possessions, to a feeling of freedom or time, understanding luxury has become an increasingly complex task for marketers. 

We define luxury as a state of mind, rather than a price point, with quality being the number one driver of luxury. In this blog we explore luxury marketing in today’s whisky industry. 

What makes luxury branding unique?

Luxury brands have the ability to connect with their audiences in unique ways. While the concept of luxury itself is largely intangible, consumers require tangible cues to the brand in their minds. Often, brands that signal superiority and status, are experienced as premium - or luxury brands. Limited access can also represent another tangible cue, as it creates the sense of exclusivity and urgent desire, often present in luxuries. 

To communicate this position, brands aspire to build strong connections with their consumers. For example, sensory connections, such as the smell of leather in a new car or emotional connections, i.e. the feelings evoked when consuming the product, such as pride or nostalgia, are utilised to build a relationship between the consumer and the brand. As whisky is a multi-sensory experiences,  luxury whisky brands have numerous opportunities for meaningful and memorable brand communication. Research also suggests that setting matters, as the luxury product together with its environment can send a powerful message.

Promoting brand values and personality

Whisky brands often centre their messaging around the originality, authenticity and craft of their product. Craftsmanship tends to be a key brand value, and it is often portrayed in the description on how the whisky is nurtured and cared for during the production process. For example, brands often convey stories on the the type of oak barrels used, the ageing flavours and the blending process, and how the various aromas are captured to create a masterpiece. 

Besides the origin story, visual cues, such as the design and feel of the product are important in portraying luxury. Packaging can illustrate the prestige and tradition of the brand, while good quality materials signal superior performance. All of these cues are important in creating a long lasting impact, which will then signal longevity and timelessness to the consumer making the decision to purchase the product again and again at different times of their life. 

How luxury is evolving 

Consumers are becoming more educated and interested in the products they are consuming. In the luxury whisky field, this means that consumers are less likely to base there purchasing choice on a sophisticated label or a flashy bottle, but instead, require more convincing at the point of purchase. Brands are also breaking luxury norms: No age statements -where the whisky producers does not state the age of the product are becoming more popular. This can be seen as a controversial trend, as the age of the product is one of the most commonly used determinants of product quality among consumers. The whisky brand Compass Box has also questioned the definition of luxury whisky, by launching a limited edition blended Scotch whisky called “This is not a luxury Whisky”.   

Digitalisation and the emergence of social media also present challenges for luxury branding. Today, a big part of brand engagement happens online, and brands need to respond to this by producing the right type of content. Rich media content, such as images and video can be used to evoke emotions, create strong brand associations, reinforce positioning and brand values. 

The online sphere also presents notable challenges for luxury brands, for example in terms of the brand’s ability to convert without overexposure causing brand dilution or how the luxury experience can be replicated online to create a seamless multichannel experience. Most importantly in todays world, whisky brands need to ensure they resonate with the evolving definition of luxury or risk being left behind. 


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