The Premium Brand and The Premium Consumer

A recent Microsoft study was conducted in seven markets across Europe and took in the views of more than 4,000 individuals who buy premium products and I have found the following results both fascinating, challenging and of considerable interest to clients:

Unlike brands in the luxury sector – such as Bentley or Armani – premium brands are more easily within the grasp of ordinary consumers. Premium brands are considered by consumers to be those which are “one better than the norm, but still affordable”, such as a BMW or a Sony TV.

Over 40% of consumers purchase premium goods at some point and they are not necessarily wealthy.

There is definitely confusion with labels, various planners and marketers talk about ‘masstige’ [a combination of ‘mass’ and ‘prestige’] or ‘luxury for the masses’ and others talk about ‘new luxury’ and they are all talking about premium goods.  They are also thinking ‘upmarket’, which is not the case.

While marketers might be confused on what a premium brand is and who consumes them, premium consumers are the polar opposite; they are about being certain in their purchasing decisions and if anything premium can be classified as a mindset. The premium mindset is one that is driven by knowledge (73% admit to doing a lot of research before a purchase) and practicality (they look for value in their purchases and need to see the tangible benefits of spending more on a product).

Among premium consumers there is a heavy reliance of online research, 54% of premium TV buyers use the internet to inform a purchase compared to 41% in the non-premium category. Nearly 60% enjoy ‘being an expert’ about a particular product or category and 63% have made the time to investigate the product categories that interest them. 

The heavy reliance on online research and the desire to be an expert demonstrates the influence of word-of-mouth on this group of consumers. 

Considering the fact that premium consumers put a high importance on the value that they are getting from a product they purchase, and take longer to decide on committing to a purchase, it could be argued that a proportion of marketing spend could be refocused to developing products that ‘speak for themselves’ – which it is clear these consumers want.

RE-POSITIONING BRANDS AT THE PREMIUM END OF THE MARKET

I have read with interest in PR Week about Twinings Tea and a consumer media relations campaign that aims to position the brand at the premium end of the market.

Twinings has tripled its marketing budget for iced tea to £1m to turn around a lack of interest in the drink in the UK.

While the iced tea market in the US is worth more than £840m, with about 85 per cent of tea being drunk with ice, Twinings forecasts that the UK market will grow to just £10m by the end of this year.

The six-figure campaign, using the tagline 'refreshment blended with style', will focus on women's lifestyle magazines.

Titles targeted will range from health-conscious publications, such as Top Sante and Zest, to fashion titles, such as Glamour, New Woman and Red.

Affluent and professional women aged 25 to 44 will form the core target for the campaign to reflect Twinings' positioning as a more premium brand within the iced tea market, which is led by Lipton's.

It will also target TV, radio and women's websites, such as handbag.com.

The push coincides with new packaging and the introduction of two iced reen teas, and will include a sampling programme that will take in Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot in June.