For a long time, luxury brands were reluctant to adopt affiliate marketing as part of their digital strategy, whether simply because they felt that it didn’t add any value to the brand, or even worse it could damage the brands reputation! However, over recent years the affiliate marketing industry has diversified, developing publishers and innovative ideas which actually address the needs of luxury brands.
Myth 1 - Affiliate marketing is all about banner ads, which can come across as very spammy
There are actually many other publisher types in the affiliate marketing mix, but we’ll touch on that later. For now, here’s why banner ads don’t have to be ‘spammy’:
Affiliate marketing isn’t about irrelevant banner ads, it’s about showing the right ads at the right time, to the right user. Therefore, if a user sees an ad, more often than not there’s an interest in that particular product or service. Aside from users that have already been to the site, affiliates are able to build profiles for luxury consumers which allow them to target lookalike users who share the same behaviour and characteristics. You probably don’t notice it, but there will be times when subconsciously after seeing an ad, you end up buying the product.
Myth 2 – there is an overreliance on incentive sites, and a lack of relevant publishers
There’s no denying that incentive publishers can often make up a large share of an affiliate programme. However as mentioned, the affiliate space has changed significantly over the years, allowing more content focused publishers to emerge. Most importantly, luxury content publishers are becoming more and more popular.
Examples of luxury focused publishers include websites such as Sheerluxe and SoSensational, both have a huge readership (with a combined total of 300,000 unique visitors a month), and are geared around providing insights for luxury consumers. Celebrity bloggers often have a strong following which supports the brand to increase its reach – and they are often highly trusted by their followers. According to affilinet’s consumer trust index, bloggers are the third most trusted, just below family and friends when making a purchasing decision online. They clearly have a strong influence on consumers purchasing decisions.
Myth 3 – Use of incentive sites such as loyalty publishers can be seen as discounting
As a matter of fact, these publishers actually do the opposite! For luxury brands that don’t want to discount, there are opportunities to promote full priced products on these sites. Customers are happy because they are still getting an incentive, but through an indirect way, which allows the brand’s reputation to stay intact. For example, if a customer is getting loyalty points which end up converting to cash, the consumer wouldn’t associate this funding with the brand but with the affiliate themselves. Nectar is a very good example of this!
Myth 4 – the channel is too geared towards a price focused audience, which isn’t the focus of a luxury brand
In my opinion, consumers within the affiliate channel are looking for the best all round value, which may not necessarily be the cheapest. It’s about making a saving whilst ticking all of the other non-monetary boxes. As a result, brands can utilise this channel to push brand USPs or price points and offers that already exist on site. For example, for a luxury holiday other factors could include whether scuba diving is included in the package, or if the resort has a 24-hour butler service.
Therefore, luxury brands need to make a conscious effort to have a presence within this space.
Myth 5 – the target audience is looking for the best deal, does this mean they’re not brand loyal?
It can be a misconception that those looking for the best deal online are not brand loyal. While products without an emotional attachment may not evoke brand loyalty- luxury items certainly do. These are products or services that consumers connect with the most!
The affiliate channel can also assist in new customer acquisition. Once that has happened, the brand plays the biggest role in retaining these customers. If the brand is confident that their product or service is brilliant, then there shouldn’t be any reason as to why a customer wouldn’t return. That isn’t to say that affiliates cannot be used for retention! Publishers are able to reach out to consumers that they know have shopped through them onto the brands site and are therefore able to remind that consumer of the great USPs that brand has. The largest publishers in the industry often have millions of consumers that are loyal to that site; it can only benefit brands to leverage that.
Here are some key points to take away from everything mentioned above:
- There are many methods of using affiliate marketing to add value without damaging your brand image, including display prospecting and retargeting, content sites and incentive sites (if used correctly).
- The target audience for the affiliate channel aren’t solely influenced by the price, but the value that the brand can present.
- Luxury consumers use incentive and comparison sites too.
- The nature of the product determines whether a consumer is brand loyal or not.