It’s no secret that successful marketing is customer-focused; whatever you sell has to satisfy the customer’s needs and desires in concrete ways. It is also important to build solid relationships with your customers, but what about the customers themselves? How does your product influence their lives? Lifestyle marketing is not so much about a product as it is about speaking to consumers’ lifestyles. Whatever product you are selling, it has to resonate with how the consumer lives every day and what he/she believes in. When an individual is influenced strongly enough by your product, the impact goes well beyond his/her individual purchasing power.
What is Lifestyle Marketing?
BusinessDictionary defines lifestyle as the manner in which people cope with their physical, psychological, social and economic environment on a daily basis. It goes on to say that lifestyle is a “composite of motivations, needs and wants…” Lifestyle marketing directly targets these needs and wants. It is important to note that these needs go beyond the immediate drives that might motivate someone to buy a product, such as thirst or hunger. Even if buying something involves these physical needs such as these, a person’s purchasing pattern reflects their self-image, beliefs, core values and even aspirations. In other words, people buy in accordance with their lifestyles; therefore your product must be in sync with this lifestyle.
Examples of Lifestyle Marketing
Major brands such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull are excellent models to follow when it comes to lifestyle marketing. Red-Bull’s marketing is not so much about their product, but about the lifestyles that they deliberately associate with their product. If you visit Red Bull’s website, the homepage is littered with images and articles about stunts and adventurous feats: biking, diving, and skateboarding, just about anything that pumps your adrenaline. Red Bull’s marketing strategy targets people whose lifestyles are all about excitement and “living on the edge.”
Coca-Cola’s marketing strategy is simple yet effective; they promise people pleasure. If you’ve ever sat through a Coca-Cola commercial, it’s often about friendship and fun, the things in life we all crave for (even if we don’t realize it). Like Red Bull, Coca-Cola’s product identifies with a particular lifestyle. When we see that product, we desire not so much the product itself but the lifestyle it represents. Red Bull and Coca- Cola are merely two examples; the list can go on. Successful brands sell lifestyles rather than just products.
Applying Lifestyle Marketing to Your Business
Lifestyle marketing is by no means limited to large companies. Even if you are a small firm, build a solid relationship with your customers. Get to know their lifestyles and have your product resonate with them. Your product or service should go beyond solving their immediate problems; it should speak to their core values.
Inbound marketing expert Scott Anderson Miller, in his book Inbound Marketing For Dummies, talks about the Lifestyle Loop model that is premised on a “multi-dimensional relationship between a person and a product.” The key to creating this type of relationship is by enriching the customer’s experience at each point of the purchasing process, from the first point of contact to the final sale.
Let’s say your business is targeting stay-at-home-Moms (or Dads). You have to sell the lifestyle of this particular market: spending most of their days at home looking after children and the household. You must resonate with the values of this group: values such as family, quality time, a sound education, a safe community and good role models for children. Some Moms/Dads might have put their careers on hold, and these are life events that should be acknowledged. Make them feel like heroes (because they are!).
When they are engaging your website, you have to make everything as interactive as possible. It could be stories of parenting experiences, or pictures of children playing, or of family gatherings. When they browse your website, everything about their experience must remind them of the lifestyle they are living (and feel good about it). By the final transaction, they should have felt a connection to your product on multiple levels. This is what creates customers who are not just loyal but vocal about your brand, hence why they are called brand advocates.
Why You Need Brand Advocates in Marketing
When you create a relationship with customers, they become your best salespeople. Moms, bloggers, business owners, socialites, and anyone who posts reviews online can become very important to your marketing efforts. Brand advocates spread the “good news” about your product and so people will come flocking to your website once the word is out. They are more than just loyal customers; they are ambassadors for your brand. And it all goes back to lifestyle marketing. Your product resonates with everything that is important to them, and so they feel a strong connection with your brand. This is every marketers dream customer, and with lifestyle marketing, having this type of customer can be very real.
Your product or service must be a reflection of your customer’s needs, wants, desires and values. In sum, it must be a tangible reflection of a consumer’s lifestyle. Your customer must experience a multi-dimensional relationship with your product, because it’s not just about satisfying the immediate need or solving a particular problem (although these are indispensable) but speaking to those things that customers may not even be consciously aware of. Successful lifestyle marketing creates not only brand loyalty but brand advocacy, and advocacy builds your brand even more. What sort of lifestyle does your brand advocate?