Finding a place for a product or service in an already established marketplace can be hard enough. If you add the extra elements of trying to blaze a trail for a luxury brand in a new market that’s just opening up, you need to take extra care each arrow in your business quiver is sharp.
That’s certainly the case for the emerging luxury marijuana space. It’s being spurred on by the fact more and more states are legalizing medical and in some cases recreational marijuana.
David Moritz is the Chief Marketing Officer for Toast, a luxury cannabis brand that’s trying to stake a claim in that fledgling high end niche. He offered ten tips for small businesses looking to take the entrepreneurial road less traveled: luxury branding.
Luxury Branding Tips for New Markets
What’s in a Name? Everything.
When you’re trying to establish your product in a new arena that’s not been tested it’s important to grab what Moritz calls the high ground first. Choosing a name is one of the first ways to do that. When you’re entering a market where there’s little or no history, there’s a lot more flexibility in the name you choose. Names should be both representative of what you’re selling and resonate with the experience you want your clients to have. In other words, get creative because you won’t have a lot of competition at first so you can take a little extra time to get this right.
For example, Toast speaks to the pillars of style and luxury the company wants to portray.
Identity Is Essential
The name and identity go hand in hand. For a luxury item, the identity needs to be crafted carefully so that it appeals to the specific target market you’re after. The tone needs to be sophisticated and even the logo needs to support the refined name that you choose to start the process off with. Giving a sense of heritage is another essential ingredient for identity.
Cues are Critical
Luxury brands obviously deliver more to a higher customer standard whether they are entering a new market or not. Part of that client expectation is summed up in the cues they look for.
“For example, there are certain finishes inside a luxury car that alert people this is a high end brand,” Moritz says. While you need these cues in for a new luxury market, finding a way to set these benchmarks is different because there are no previous examples.
Small business looking to build these markers in a new industry needs to take a page from the kinds of emotional cues that work for established industries and make them their own. Toast™ looked at the way alcohol advertising implied drinking in moderation could enhance and elevate any social event and morphed it to include marijuana.
“The whole nature of any luxury business is in the ability to hit people in an emotional place,” Moritz says adding to make that work you need to incorporate elements from other places to start.
“Then you can invent your own innovations from there.”
Think About Positioning
Because you might not have competition in you own industry, you’ll need to position your new product in relation to other products in similar industries. It’s the same kind of process used for emotional cues. For a high end product, you can advertise with personas similar to ones used with other luxury items. Refined and elegant people are the best bet.
Use Technology to its Fullest
Although you want to be sure to take your luxury brand and firmly place it on that shelf that sets it apart, you cant ignore how important social media is to getting the word out to your target market.
Moritz understands how this digital juggernaut is gaining in importance for luxury brands in new markets.
“As the algorithms improve and the advertising becomes more accurate and geared towards people’s interests, this is only going to increase,” he says.
Imagine the Competition
You likely won’t have any competition when you first position your luxury brand in a new market. Here you’ll need to play a little imaginary chess with a competing company to make your moves based on what you think a competitor might do.
“You can imagine those other brands but you need to take a specific approach,” Moritz says.
Through all the other work you do to create a luxury brand in a new market you need to keep in mind you should be fostering a high end experience in all your communications. For example, with the high end cannabis industry, laboratory testing is a given that doesn’t need to be stressed in marketing materials.
Think About Regulators
Your new luxury market won’t be new forever. Just like imagined competitors you need to think about how government and other regulators will affect your business. How you market and to who might need to be adjusted.
Provide an Experience
More than just the product itself, a luxury brand in a new market needs to provide a complete experience.
“The more that you can bridge the gap between newness and innovation to expectation and familiarity, the easier time you’ll have launching your product,” Moritz says.
Image: We Toast/Instagram