What is Lifestyle Marketing?
Lifestyle marketing is a technique that embodies products with emotional or aspirational ideals to “sell the lifestyle”. Rather than pushing the functional value of a product, brands that use lifestyle marketing target deeper, more subconscious desires, to make their brands a way of life for their consumers. Lifestyle brands have a strong appeal because consumers want to interact with brands that have similar values.
Three Key Megatrends Shaping Lifestyle Marketing
Catalysation refers to brands that have been working to accelerate the personal development of their customers. This demand for goods that catalyse personal development arises from a desire to feel better about one’s consumption habits by choosing products that assist with self-improvement.
This megatrend fits into the aspirational aspect of lifestyle marketing and is shaping up to be incredibly influential in the realm of digital products and services. In 2017, ThinkWithGoogle said that 75% of people say their smartphones help them to be more productive. We are already starting to see how some digital products are making themselves indispensable parts of their users’ lives, especially in personal finance and remote work.
Given the multitude of options available on the internet, consumers have become tired of the process involved in purchasing any given item. They will happily provide information in exchange for curation and guidance on what they should buy.
Consumers that are willing to outsource the research and decision-making process are a huge opportunity for businesses. Adjacently in marketing, the influencer is evolving into the curator, as social media ecosystems push creators that have niched down and provide value.
Last but not least, hybridisation is closely linked to curation and how brands differentiate themselves. Businesses that combine business models, products, and services in unique ways are more likely to attract consumer interest.
The blurring of industries, channels, and business models first began to pick up momentum with Amazon Go. Since then, consumer behaviours from the pandemic are expected to stay. A study found that 60% of consumers believe brands must win their loyalty by providing exceptional digital experiences. This expectation extends into physical stores, and how retailers can create attractive phygital (digital + physical) experiences.
Emerging Tactics and Strategies
Games as Immersive Advertising
Animal Crossing and Gillette Venus
Nintendo’s Animal Crossing New Horizons was the perfect escape from the reality of quarantine and COVID-19. Fashion brands began offering design codes to dress users’ avatars in Animal Crossing versions of real-life products, thus raising awareness for the brand.
Gillette Venus joined the trend and designed a fashion line for Animal Crossing players to “replicate the look of their IRL skin in the game”. The free design codes include skin conditions, prosthetics, and body shapes.
Roblox and Nike
In 2021, Nike launched a virtual world called Nikeland in partnership with Roblox. Users can dress their avatars in Nike goods and interact with the metaverse version of Nike’s physical headquarters.
Nikeland mainly targets younger audiences, and is a good channel to test new designs with their target audience at scale. Analysts also believe that products which are popular amongst children in Nikeland will likely be rolled out in real life soon after.
Fortnite and Travis Scott
The effect of the pandemic on travel means that artists have adopted new channels to interact with their listeners. Travis Scott, who is renown for his impressive live performances, partnered with Fornite to hold a concert inside the popular video game.
Taking advantage of the digital channel, Scott was able to translate his persona into a surreal audiovisual experience. The concert was a huge success and helped Scott get his new single in front of millions of awed players.
Overall, the combination of gaming and advertising is ushering in a new era of hybrid experiences where consumers can have one-to-one interactions with a brand in virtual spaces. For the games being used as platforms, partnering with brands allows them to deliver extra value by curating experiences in other markets.
Social Media “Aesthetics” and Attached Brands
Social media microtrends created the “aesthetic”, which is internet slang for a visual theme. Google Trends shows that the search term “aesthetic” consistently had an interest level of 85+ over the past year.
Nowadays creators curate their content to suit an aesthetic. Products that these creators feature frequently then become staples of the aesthetic. For example, the “art hoe” is inextricably linked to the yellow Fjallraven Kanken backpack. Similarly, the “VSCO girl” is named after her favourite photo editing app.
Besides visual themes, aesthetics have branched into identity and personality. Newer aesthetics cover hobbies, careers, daily routines, and life goals. With this, brands have an expedited path to becoming (or solidifying themselves as) lifestyle brands.
For example, “that girl” has her entire life together by her mid-20s because of her diet, exercise, morning routine, and mindset. Interestingly, “that girl” always lives in a nice apartment, shops at upscale farmer’s markets, and only uses Apple products. The insinuation that healthy and successful girls have used Apple to get to where they are plays with strong subconscious desires that most young audiences can’t shake.
Whilst the trend has garnered some criticism, the association between a certain product and an aspirational lifestyle has always been an intrinsic part of lifestyle marketing. Influencers are taking this into their own hands by curating social media aesthetics to create their own brands, thereby carrying their favourite businesses with them.
The car manufacturer combines a car showroom, restaurant, coworking space, and event hall into one central location. SEAT used its values as a connecting thread to export its business into adjacent markets like innovation, micromobility, and sustainability. CASA SEAT, which is house of SEAT in English, is the culmination and physical outlet for SEAT’s initiatives.
In a city where driving a car is both inconvenient and expensive (Barcelona), CASA SEAT is not just a showroom for people who want to buy a car, but a lifestyle hub for people who believe in SEAT’s mission of innovation in technology, design, and creativity.
The Editor’s Market
The flagship store of lifestyle brand The Editor’s Market is a one-stop shop for its customers to “keep discovering”. Centrally located in an upscale shopping mall (in Singapore), The Editor’s Market sells clothes, accessories, and footwear, as well as toiletries, cutlery, interior decor, and even gardening equipment.
Despite the large variety of products, everything about the brand is sleek, modern, and attractive. Most importantly, the brand is aesthetically coherent. Shopping from them feels like buying a lifestyle straight off a Pinterest board.
The idea is further perpetuated by Found, which is their gourmet café. Like social media influencers who curate aesthetics, The Editor’s Market curates not only how their consumer’s houses and wardrobes look but also what they eat. The expansion into F&B with their values in tow plays on the idea that eating at Found brings consumers closer to their own goals of self-discovery.
In an era of oversaturation, consumers seek simplicity, convenience, and personalization. The desire for a “one-stop shop” experience coupled with the compulsion of UGC lifestyle marketing has led brands to diversify their business models and enter other areas of consumers’ lives.
To conduct lifestyle marketing successfully in this environment, there are a few top-level things to keep in mind as you develop your strategy:
The crux of lifestyle marketing is understanding your consumer’s goals, motivations, and fears. You need to understand your consumer’s ideal life and why they want it. Knowing this information will help you develop a cohesive strategy. Moreover, knowing why consumers want something will help you identify where and with whom you should be marketing your brand (influencers/celebrities, movies and TV, etc.)…
And if you can’t find an appropriate influencer, you can make your own. For example, Elon Musk’s unique and sometimes divisive personality is a driving force behind Tesla’s brand identity. People identify with Musk’s humour, admire his work ethic, and look up to his lifestyle. He has also made himself inextricable from Tesla, thereby selling the idea that people who live like him drive Teslas.
Lifestyle marketing is built on strong brand identities. The Editor’s Market without its “aesthetic” is just a department store. Their brand identity is a key differentiator that elevates the quality of their products, and helps consumers picture the lifestyle that their products “create”. Striking the match between strong brand identity and accurate consumer insights creates a customer experience where purchasing from your brand has both functional and emotional benefits.