Looking Ahead, The Luxury Market in 2020: Brands Turn to Print Advertising

While online marketing has brought unimaginable success to many brands in different industries by driving sales with a cost-effective and efficient advertising spend, it seems luxury brands are “over it” as they will dial back their digital advertising spend in 2020. The challenge facing many luxury brands in the coming year will be to return to the pillars of the luxury industry – quality, design, authenticity and craftsmanship, the characteristics that made these brands successful to begin with. These luxury brands need to better communicate their brand story and values to affluent customers in an engaging, informative and welcome fashion as digital marketing campaigns lose their luster among audience members. 

In an annual survey, as reported by Forbes, a select group of luxury brands were asked about their forecasted advertising spend allocation across print and digital. In 2018, 60% of those surveyed said they planned to increase marketing spend for 2019, but in 2019 only 40% confirmed the same strategy for 2020. 

As luxury brands reduce advertising spend but make efforts to diversify, they are rediscovering the power of print in the right application. In 2017, Two Sides surveyed a segment of U.S. consumers and found that 73% preferred to read books and magazines in print versus on an electronic device, and 66% thought it is important to “switch off” from their devices in favor of print. Without abandoning digital use, brands are rethinking how to harmoniously use the two different channels in an effort to enhance their reach and messaging. The value in print to reach the affluent consumer is there, and luxury brands are tapping into this as they search for more effective ways to relay their brand value to and engage with their target market. 

One print tactic that luxury brands are utilizing to stand out from their competitors is custom content print magazines. Popular brand magazines include Rhapsody (United Airlines magazine printed and distributed exclusively to travelers in first class), Porter (Luxury e-commerce retailer Net-A-Porter’s magazine that is sold in 30,000 retail stores around the world), Four Seasons Magazine (the exclusive in-room magazine distributed to all properties) and Colors (magazine of Italian brand United Colors of Benetton). Non-luxury millennial-focused brands are using print, such as Airbnb, which launched its ad-free subscription magazine with Hearst. 

Over the past years, luxury brands have been pouring the majority of their advertising spend into digital channels such as social media, websites and e-newsletters as the solution to the ailing print industry. However, consumers are constantly bombarded with digital advertising across all their devices, and their engagement with digital ads has drastically decreased, calling into question the true effectiveness of digital advertising for some luxury brands. Interestingly, print still seems to be a desired choice of audience readers and a more effective way for a luxury brand to communicate to its affluent target market without jeopardizing the integrity of the brand and its value. As luxury brands prepare their annual marketing plans for 2020, more will be integrating print in branded content creation with digital spend to push an elevated brand messaging across channels.

Written by Julia Gundlach

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